Why Implement and Maintain an OHSAS 18001-Compliant Health & Safety Management System?
It is not sufficient to simply put in place health and safety plans without coordinating, fully documenting, and managing them according to specific policies and procedures. Though the organisation’s safety officer or committee can be tasked with the setting up of health and safety plans, involvement from top-level management is essential to ensure the plans’ ongoing success. The plans should form part of an overall health and safety management system, which meets the legislative requirements of the specific country, such as South Africa, where acts such as the Occupational Health & Safety Act are in place. The management system should be integrated with the company’s existing management systems, such as quality, security, and environmental management, to streamline compliance administration.
Failure by companies to set up and properly maintain health and safety systems can lead to legal penalties. However, to ensure optimal functioning and the success of implemented systems, it is important to use specific, internationally accepted benchmarks and guidelines. With standardisation, the company has metrics that can be used to measure the performance of their health and safety management systems. OHSAS 18001 is an internationally recognised standard that provides a comprehensive framework for the development, implementation, and management of a firm’s health and safety management system.
Compliance with the requirements of the standard helps the company to mitigate and considerably reduce occupational health and safety risks, costs associated with accidents, time spent on accident investigation, treatment of injured parties, and more. In addition, companies that implement OHSAS 18001-compliant health and safety management systems benefit from improved worker morale, as the workers have the assurance that their employers care about their health and wellbeing. Users of company premises also have these assurances and, as such, the companies have credibility with their customers, trade partners, and employees.
Compliance with the requirements of OHSAS 18001 also helps companies to improve general workplace conditions, because they have a set structure in which to develop health and safety plans. These plans should be preventative in nature. However, it is also important to have metrics in place to determine the effectiveness of the plans. In addition, the companies need to put written plans in place for the investigation of hazards, handling of the risks, responding to incidents, and preventing repetition of the incidents, as well as minimising the harmful effects of any incidents.
There are several reasons for firms to implement legislative and OHSAS 18001-compliant management systems:
- Reduction in downtime because of workplace injuries.
- Improvement in productivity because of a healthier and safer workplace.
- Improvement of training outcomes.
- Reduction in lost work hours related to incidents.
- Improvement in the organisation’s safety profile and public standing.
- Reduction in insurance premiums.
Implementing an OHSAS 18001 health and safety management system entails:
- Development, implementation, maintenance, and improvement of the company’s health and safety management system in line with the requirements of OHSAS 18001 and the legislation of the country.
- The following of a systematic approach to health and safety management according to the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle.
- Implementation and improvement of controls to document, check, report, and manage health and safety issues.
- Ongoing improvement of the system.
The Plan-Do-Check-Act approach makes it possible for the company to continually improve on the management of health and safety. “Plan” entails the setting of health and safety objectives, analysis of the systems already in place, and setting of goals for improvement. “Do” includes the implementation of the plans within the OHSAS 18001 framework. This includes aspects such as appointments of persons to take responsibility for the management system’s performance. It also entails developing awareness, setting communication channels, and ensuring documentation and records are in place. The controls must be measured and the plans reviewed at set intervals. The “Check” and “Act” phases entail ongoing monitoring and measurement of the company’s performance in terms of the requirements of OHSAS 18001 and making corrections where needed to ensure better performance.
Where to Get Help
Professional assistance is available from us regarding development, implementation, and improvement of your firm’s health and safety management plan to meet the requirements of OHSAS 18001 and the various laws relevant to it. We also provide templates for development and implementation, video instructions, internal and external audits, GAP analyses, training, and integration assistance.