SHEQ, which is the acronym for Safety, Health, Environment and Quality, simply refers to the integration of the 3 basic management systems – ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 (now ISO 45001) and ISO 9001.
Businesses typically make use of management systems individually but by integrating these three standards, organisations can combine all its systems and processes into one complete framework. This results in a compact management system that is more effective, more efficient and easier to follow than having several separate systems.
The Three Basic Management Systems
The International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) refers to a management system as “the way in which an organization manages the inter-related parts of its business in order to achieve its objectives.” These objectives can span across several different subjects such as product or service quality, operational efficiency, environmental performance, and health and safety in the workplace.
It is important to note that the implementation of a quality management system is not a legal requirement (although it is advised), there are legal requirements for environmental management and safety and health management so as to ensure the safety of employees in the workplace.
To form a SHEQ management system, the following standards must be combined:
ISO 14001: 2015
ISO 14001:2015, which was published in 2015, is the standard that outlines the requirements for an effective environmental management system. The objective is to help organisations to effectively identify, manage, monitor and control their environmental impact by using efficient resources and significantly reducing their waste production. ISO 14001 can be integrated easily into any existing ISO management system.
OHSAS 18001:2007 and ISO 45001
OHSAS 18001 specifies the requirements for an Occupational Health and Safety Management System. While organisations can still apply for certification to OHSAS 18001, it was replaced by ISO 45001 in 2018.
The objective of this standard is to help businesses reduce workplace risks and ultimately eliminate work-related accidents. This enables organisations to create a safer work environment for its employees.
ISO 9001:2015 outlines the requirements for a quality management system and is the only standard in the ISO 9000 family that can be certified. It can be used by any organisation, large or small, regardless of its industry. The standard is based on quality management principles such as a strong customer focus, the motivation and implication of top management, the process approach and ongoing improvement. The objective is to help organisations provide their customers with a consistent supply of good quality products and services.
These standards were created in such a way that they can function together as one efficient management system. Both ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 have been completely aligned with each other and, while ISO 9001 uses a different structure, it can still be integrated with the other two standards.
Benefits of an Integrated Management System
Probably the biggest advantage of having an integrated management system in place is that the organisation would be able to understand both the strong and weak areas of the business. Also, when implemented correctly into an organizations’ strategy, it allows members of top management to ensure efficient and safe work practices.
The benefits of integrating ISO 14001, ISO 45001 and ISO 9001 include (among others):
- A reduction or elimination of system redundancies
- Less expensive and easier internal audits
- Consistency in approach
- No chance of a certain management system being regarded as superior (all three are equally important).
- Consistent objectives, planning, and document management
- Implementation and Operation of the integrated system costs less.
- An improvement in internal communication
In conclusion organisations must be aware that, in today’s competitive markets, they must consider every aspect of their business processes. Yes, providing quality products and services is a priority but the well-being of employees, the organisation’s environmental impact, and their use of available resources must also be considered. Ultimately, by making use of a properly integrated management system, the organisation will remain competitive while still coping with the many other aspects that come with running a business.