Many people incorrectly refer to OHSAS 18001 as ISO 18001. It should be noted that OHSAS 18001 is not an ISO standard, but a British Standard that has been accepted worldwide as the guideline for setting up and managing occupational health and safety management systems in the workplace. Indeed, ISO stands for International Standards Organization, a body consisting of representatives of many quality bodies from various countries that have been tasked to develop standards for various applications that can be used internationally.
The standard can thus not be referred to as ISO 18001, since it has the official name of BS OHSAS 18001 and OHSAS stands for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems. The standard is now universally accepted because organisations across the globe have recognised the need for standardising health and safety management procedures. With companies now operating in multiple countries and having employees working on projects in other countries, the need to ensure that the same safety and health principles are applied across borders has become overwhelming.
In the past, countries applied their own safety and health management systems, which differed tremendously from country to country. The lack of consistency in applying the same principles and following the same approach to occupational health and safety severely affected confidence in working and operating in other countries. As such, OHSAS 18001, or as some incorrectly refer to it as ISO 18001, has brought about consistency in occupational health and safety across the globe.
How the Standard Came About
In order to address the above and thus resolve the confusion surrounding occupational health and safety management, an international group was established called OHSAS Project Group. The group had a coherent approach and consisted of various national standard organisations and agencies, as well as certification authorities and health institutions from various countries, in addition to the British Standards body.
The group was tasked with the development of a standard that could be applied across all industries and countries. The group used existing standards as the foundation for the creation of the standard. Two standards formed part of the series, with OHSAS 18001 outlining the requirements for the occupational health and safety management system and OHSAS 18002 providing the implementation framework. Well over 17 000 organisations have already adopted the standard, with over 55 000 certificates awarded to companies.
The standard was updated in 2007 to enable improved integration and alignment with ISO standards, such as the ISO 14000 series for environmental management and IS0 9000 series for quality management. Health and safety were the focus points, but the BSI Group also decided to adopt the standard.
Why OHSAS 18001?
Implementation of the OHSAS 18001 (incorrectly noted as ISO 18001) and OHSAS 18002 standards helps organisations to improve the safety profile of their work environments. Adoption enables them to accurately and timely identify risks related to health and safety, take proactive steps in prevention of such risks, reduce accidents and risks of health and safety related incidents, and to ensure compliance with legal requirements for their specific industries and the countries in which they operate. With the implementation of a compliant occupational health and safety management system, companies are able to improve their business performance, reduce productivity losses because of health or safety related incidents, and reduce financial losses related to such.
With OHSAS 18001 and 18002 implementation possible alongside other international standards, compliant management systems companies are able to save on costs and time related to management of such systems, in order to ensure compliance.
The standard enables the setting of policies and objectives, control measures and assessments of the effectiveness of such control measures. The implementation of OHSAS 18000, ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 series of standards at the same time helps to reduce the costs of compliance.
Documents Used in the Development of the Standard
Many documents, as mentioned earlier, formed the basis for the creation of the standard, including the DNV Standard for Certification of Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, the BS8800 of 1996, and the UNE 81900 series of pre-standards related to prevention of occupational health and safety risks among others.
The certification bodies that participated in the drafting of OHSAS 18001 and 18002 hold the majority of shareholding in system certification across the globe. This gives the standard the required credibility for international application.
What it Doesn’t Do
The standard is a specification for the requirements and management of OHMS, the control of occupational risks and improvement in safety performance, although it doesn’t stipulate the criteria for occupational health and safety performance and also doesn’t provide exact specifications for the development of an OHMS.
Why Implement the Standard?
The standard can be used in any industry and by any sized company. Implementation is beneficial if an organisation wants to improve their safety profile, show their conformance with the standard and increase confidence of employees, shareholders, business partners and clients regarding their commitment to safe operations. Implementation is furthermore recommended to companies who wish to have a standard against which they can measure their occupational health and safety management performance. Implementation of the system helps to reduce risks to employees and occupants of the work space. It is essential if the organisation wants to gain certification of occupational health and safety through external assessment.
Part of implementation of the, incorrectly called ISO 18001, system for compliance requirements involves training of personnel in occupational health and safety aspects, internal audits, leading of internal audit teams, external audits and safety officer positions.
Steps in Certification
The first step entails a GAP analysis, whereby we assess shortcomings in conformance and review the company’s existing system. Based on such, recommendations are made for corrective actions. Once done, the audit is performed and if all issues have been adequately addressed, the certification can be awarded. After certification, companies can choose to follow the compliance maintenance programme to ensure ongoing compliance with the requirements of OHSAS 18001 and 18002. We furthermore provide consultation and training services, in addition to assistance in the development of integrated management systems.