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Introduction to OHSAS 18001 Management Systems

28th March 2012
By John Mills in Business Law
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The industries are required to grow to satisfy the need of the society, but at the same time they need to do all of this in an occupational health and safety acceptable manner. Of late, industries have been reactive towards OHSAS management and the follow-up of safe production practices. In this scenario, the concept of OHSMS is presented through a planned approach of system implementation for occupational health and safety issues taking shape.

What an OHSMS System Is

OH&S Management System (OHSMS) refers to a system used by an Organization to manage its activities, product, or services in such a way to minimize or eliminate the adverse risks on Occupational Health and Safety hazards to workers. More explicitly, the OHSMS is that part of the overall management system through organizational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes, and resources by which developing, implementing, reviewing and maintaining the organization's OH&S policy occurs.

Evidently, OH&S Management System is not a Hi-tech mechanism to address Occupational Health and Safety issues of an organization. Basically OHSMS is a manual system consisting of three components, namely:

I. Design or development of elements of the OHSMS
II. Documentation
III. Implementation

Of course, the documentation can be supported by software.

Unlike the Quality Management System, which concentrates only on customer satisfaction, the OHSMS is required to satisfy different stakeholders- e.g., employees, shareholders, regulatory authorities, customers, and the general public as well. Also, because quality can be defined by technical specification, satisfying customers is relatively easier than under OHSMS, which is dependent on the diverse interest of these stakeholders. Additionally, OHSMS is required to ensure compliance with relevant legislation and regulations. Thus, the scope of application and operation of the OHSMS is wider than that of a QMS.

Need for OHSMS

With growing health and safety awareness, compulsions and competition, it becomes imperative to not only manufacture, but also to source raw materials, and sell products in a manner that takes care of OHSAS issues.

Global trade henceforth would reinforce the flow of safer goods and services, in which only OHSAS complying companies shall be able to retain and enhance their share of the growing international market.

While all industrial enterprises are required to comply with a growing number of OHSAS regulations, it is only those who proactively seek to demonstrate OHSMS performance far beyond compliance, who would be the market leaders.

Credibility comes in only when an independent, well-respected, internationally recognized third party speaks of these OHSAS achievements. Then, it not only carries conviction, but also has risks that the consumer doesn't mind.

Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) certification is one such opportunity that can enable the company to acquire the label of sound enterprise and improve its economic performance at the same time.

Why implement OHSMS?

* Systematic approach
* Improved communication
* Improved compliance
* Improved profitability
* Reduction in liability and risk
* Improved internal management
* Confidence with stakeholders
* Improved employee confidence/faith
* Market credibility/image
* Improved emergency preparedness

Developing an OHSMS

Any organization may develop its own OHSMS Management System to address OHSMS issues arising out of its activities, products, or services. The elements of such a system may be decided by the organization itself depending upon the need.

Such a system may be functioning well to enhance the OHSMS performance; still it will lack credibility and conviction. In these circumstances third party certification of OHSMS is required. For this purpose the organization's OHSMS has to be designed, developed, and implemented as per specification of recognized standards.

Thus, OHSMS scope is as outlined:

* Must be based on control of causes, not hazards and risks reactive.
* Must address all management elements of control.
* Must address Normal/Abnormal/Emergency conditions.
* Must have measurable parameters.
* Must be goal driven.
* Must be relevant to risks.
* Must involve all.
* Must promote continual improvement.
* Must be management and not control/eradication.
* OHSMS is managing risks and hazards.
* The essence of hazard management is to avoid high risks, manage medium risks, and live with low risks

Importance of OHSAS 18000

The standards are generic, i.e., applicable to both manufacturing and service organizations in public and private sectors. They say what should be done by an organization to manage the impact on the OHSAS of its activities, but do not dictate how to do it. Thus, OHSAS 18001 impacts the issues listed below.

The following issues for industry are considered:

* Occupational concern for the organization
* Health issues
* Safety of workers
* Water use
* Other resource use
* Hazardous substances
* Biological hazards
* Radiation
* Waste
* Noise
* Community concerns
* Wildlife and habitats
* Accidents and emergencies
* Planning issues
* Interface with other health and safety issues

OHSAS 18000 series of standards can be classified as the specification standard and guidance standard. OHSAS 18001 is the only specification standard to which companies would be registered.

The overall aim of this international standard is to support the OHSMS system. However, it is not intended to be used to create non-tariff trade barriers or to increase or change an organization's legal obligations.

The company has to set targets and goals relating to OHSAS issues for the long run and these must be achievable. Also, provisions for emergencies must be taken into consideration so that OHSAS will not be affected. The elements of OHSAS 18001 are listed next.

1. Commitments and Policy:
An organization should define its OH&S policy and focus on what needs to be done for ensuring continual OHSMS performance. It should also ensure commitment to the policy.

2. Planning:
An organization should formulate a plan to fulfill its OH&S policy and legal requirements.

3. Implementation:
For effective implementation an organization should develop the capabilities and support mechanisms necessary to achieve its OH&S policy, objectives, and targets.

4. Measurements and Evaluation:
An organization should measure, monitor, and evaluate its OHSMS performance.

5. Reviews and Improvement:
An organization should review and continually improve its OHSMS management system, with the objective of improving its overall OHSMS performance.

Purpose and Benefits of OHSMS (18001):

Organizations certified to OHSAS 18000 would achieve significant competitive edge over organizations engaged in similar operations (activities, products, and services), as certification reflects the proactiveness of an organization to protect the environment through OHSAS by a preventive mechanism rather than a corrective or reactive one.

Again, a well-functioning OHSMS provides confidence to the organization and its various stakeholders. Some of the benefits are listed below:

1. Increases the acceptance from financial institutions, banks, the public, insurance, etc.
2. Improves industry-government relations
3. Improves OHSAS performance, which in turn increases productivity of man and machine
4. Meets customer's OHSAS expectations and maintains good public relations
5. Government benefits
6. Ability to meet:
* National/International legislation
* Regional variation in legislation
7. Health and safety of workers
8. Public image
* Consumer opinion
* Inter-company/International trade
9. Increases employee confidence

Global Manager Group stands with mission and purpose to assist occupation health and safety for achieving business excellence with help of the ohsas 18001 standard certification consultancy. Also provides ready to use ohsas 18001 manual and other iso quaility manual and sample formats.
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