Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS) have been defined by Gallagher as “â€¦a combination of the planning and review, the management organisational arrangements, the consultative arrangements, and the specific program elements that work together in an integrated way to improve health and safety performance”
A management system is a set of interrelated elements used to establish the policy and objectives, and to reach these objectives, it includes an organizational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources.
The implementation process of a management system adds value to organizational culture since it develops competences related to the planning and execution of activities, prioritizes the capacity of team work and promotes the improved reliability of production systems.According to OHSAS 18001 – Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (2007), occupational health and safety are conditions and factors that affect, or could affect, the health and safety of employees or other workers (including temporaries and outsourced
workers), visitors or any other person at the workplace.
An occupational health and safety management system can be defined as part of the
organization’s management system used to develop and implement its policy and manage
its occupational health and safety risks (OHSAS 18001, 2007).
The implementation of occupational health and safety management systems has been the
main strategy to combat the serious social and economic problem of work-related accidents
and illnesses and it can also be used by companies as a factor to increase competitiveness
(TRIVELATO, 2002). When an employee is hired by a company, the perception he has regarding the physical and social environment he finds will influence his daily behavior. That is why aspects such as order, cleanliness and personal hygiene are of utmost importance, as is the organization and utilization of space by means of an appropriate layout (BARBOSA FILHO, 2001).
OHSAS 18001 – Occupational Health and Safety Management System
The British Standard BS 8800 (Guide to Occupational Health and Safety Systems), created
in 1996, was the first successful attempt at establishing a standard reference for implementing a health and safety management system. It aims at improving the organization’s performance in terms of health and safety, providing guidance with regards to how its management should be integrated with the administration of other aspects of company performance.
This standard was broadly disseminated throughout the world and adopted in the most
diverse industries. It is comprised of a series of elements (requirements); however, it does
not establish performance criteria or even specifications on how to design the system.
In 1999, OHSAS 18001 was published by the British Standards Institution (BSI). It was
elaborated by a group of international entities (BVQI, DNV, LLOYDS, SGS and others),
which used BS 8800 as its basis. It was developed in response to the needs of companies to
manage their occupational health and safety obligations more efficiently.
In July 2007, OHSAS 18001:1999 was replaced by OHSAS 18001:2007, and some
alterations were introduced, thus reflecting the experience of 16,000 certified organizations
in more than 80 countries (QSP, 2007).
OHSAS 18001 aims at providing organizations with elements of an effective occupational
health and safety management system that can be integrated with other management
requirements and help them achieve their OHS and economic objectives (OHSAS 18001,
2007). It is applicable to every type and size of organization and can be integrated with other
management systems (quality, environment and social responsibility) in order to help them
achieve their occupational health and safety objectives. As per Figure 1, OHSAS is based
on PDCA methodology (OHSAS 18001, 2007).
This OHSAS Standard is based on the methodology known as Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA).
PDCA can be briefly described as follows.
Plan: establish the objectives and processes necessary to deliver results in accordance with the organization’s OH&S policy.
Do: implement the processes.
Check: monitor and measure processes against OH&S policy, objectives, legal and other requirements, and report the results.
Act: take actions to continually improve OH&S performance
Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001 provides the mechanism for occupational health and safety management, helps companies in the systematic inspection and measurement of the degree of their suitability, as well as trains employee to understand their role in the health & safety system and its improvement. Companies hoping to implement an effective occupational health and safety management system should have a clear understanding of the changes in health and safety laws, as well as potential hazards existing inside the factory. A good understanding could reduce accidents, accident and calamity risks, as well as upgrade the general health and safety risk control efficiency of the company. The study explains the implementation performance and execution procedure of the occupational health & safety management system based on actual implementation experience of the occupational health & safety management system. Occupational health & safety management system establishment experiences showed that one undergoes eight stages when setting up an OHSAS 18001 compliant health and safety management system execution procedure; namely, preparation, initial review, planning, documentation, implementation & operation, checking & corrective action, management review, and continuous improvement.
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1.0 Preparation Stage
Preparatory work and psychological construction are fairly important in the establishment of the occupational health & safety management system. Generally, during the initial period of introducing occupational health & safety management system into a factory, factory workers already possessed a health and safety precognition, as well as understand that the establishment of the company occupational health & safety management system would require their full coordination and support. The primary function of this stage is to foster top executive support and authorization, implementing body organization, and stimulation of personnel recognition.
Top executive support and authorization
Top executive is the highest authority of the occupational health & safety management system, as well as the highest decision making manager of the factory However, prior to setting up system, a factory should obtain the approval and support of its top executive. The occupational health & safety management system establishment responsibility and authority should be assigned to the appropriate personnel to integrate internal existing resources and dissolve possible resistance that may surface during the execution process. A specific measure would be to employ a paper or hierarchic order relay method starting from the top factory executive, e.g. chairman, CEO, president, or factory manager, openly making official explanation of the system to the management executives and operators. For instance, holding a Kick-off Meeting or employing other official announcement or publication to notify managers and staff about the establishment of the occupational health & safety management system. It is imperative that each individual should understand the company’s determination in promoting the occupational health & safety management system.
Organizing an implementing body
Clear-cut scope of individual responsibilities is an imperative essential of a good management system. OHSAS 18001 requires the assignment of corresponding responsibilities to employees, clearing defining their responsibilities, authority, and mutual relationship. The management should provide the resources needed for execution, as well as appoint the suitable management representative. Hence, the organization should have a written document clearly defining the role of each individual in the system to allow each person to understand his/her importance, responsibilities, and authority in the scheme of operations, position in the organization, and the vertical relationship of the management level. The organization might explain to the persons in charge, positions and management level possessing the relevant management responsibilities in the handbook or procedure manual. The regular training and internal communication channels may be used to make each person understand the nature of his/her responsibility. As for management responsibilities, aside from total authority delegation, it is also necessary to provide the appropriate resources; e.g. money, manpower, materials, technology, information source. The management representative is the soul of the occupational health & safety management system. Pursuant to higher management instructions, he/she is responsible for leading the system to the right path, as well as verifying the right operating responsibilities of the occupational health & safety management system and report system execution performance to higher management.
Stimulating health and safety recognition of employees
Education and training are important tools organizations use to maintain the professional knowledge and skills of employees; especially during the early stage of occupational health & safety management system establishment. Education and training are the best means for upgrading personnel skills, stimulating employee understanding of his/her work as well as health and safety effects. A training premise is that the organization should first identify the “individuals “expose to potential serious health and safety risks” to provide a suitable training. Likewise, employees assigned to special jobs should possess adequate educational background, training and experience for the job.
Generally, the business sector does not have a clear perception of “health and safety’, therefore under such deficient information supply, employees could hardly understand their role in the health and safety problems, needless to say take measures to further ensure his/her or another party’s safety. The OHSAS 18001 training requirement goes beyond work technology, it also emphasizes recognition upgrade. Factories introducing the occupational health & safety management system concept may use education and training as a foundation; when requiring employees to maintain or upgrade their skills, factories should first allow employees to understand correlation between and importance of their work and health & safety. Organizations may relay health & safety management system requirements to employees through means most suitable to the factory culture. If everyone understands one’s role and responsibility in the system, then working under the health and safety effects, one would be able to upgrade one’s health and safety performance, as well as gladly coordinate with the health & safety management system of the company.
2 Initial review period
During the establishment of the occupational health & safety management system, initial review of the condition understanding and data compilation work provided the formulation of subsequent or amendment of occupational health & safety policies; formulation of objectives and management programs; definition of references for standard procedure documents. Initial review is not part of the OHSAS 18001 certification requirement, however those who have not established their occupational health & safety management system in the OHSAS 18002 may use this measure as foundation of subsequent operations. Initial review allowed factories to understand fully the relationship between their internal operations and the safety problems, as well as the safety problems and responsibilities of the factories. The purpose of initial review is to provide a thorough understanding of the health and safety advantages and disadvantages of the organization per se, well as provide a clear-cut direction for the future occupational health & safety management system. The endeavor is like a medical examination; it is used to understand the health and safety weaknesses and probable improvements inside the factory. The matter of weakness improvement will form the future execution content of future occupational health & safety management system execution.
Initial review findings are finally compiled into the initial review report by the organization or an appointed person in charge. The report should be able to summarily explain matters under investigation, present a conclusion and suggestions for future to management review and future reference purposes.
3 Framework and planning period
Following the completion of initial review and factories development of a general health and safety consensus comes future health and safety policymaking. Framework and planning execution covers the following: defining health and safety policies, setting objectives, organizing health and safety management programs, and formulation of document outline.
Defining health and safety policies
Health and safety policies manifest the commitment of the top executive, it is also the highest guiding principle of the health & safety management system, the force behind the implementation and improvement of the health & safety management system, as well as the manifestation of the organization’s intentions in terms of health and safety responsibility and performance requirements. Likewise it serves as the standard for future occupational health & safety management system establishment and improvement. Prior to the establishment of occupational health & safety policies, the top executive should have a full understanding of organizational conditions as well as the hazards and health & safety risks resulting from factory operations. The top executive should also have a thorough understanding to determine and manifest adequately intentions and direct future organization direction. Health and safety affairs often existed under a high subjective consciousness; hence the suitability of the health and safety policies could determine the success or failure of the occupational health & safety management system. During the execution of the continuous improvement process, subjective and objective factors would change with progress; hence for the effective system operation, health and safety policies should be properly adjusted and amended in response to time and space changes.
Defining health and safety objectives
For effective risk control and reduction, as well as health and safety policy realization purposes, the organization should define health and safety objectives. The health and safety objectives should be able to manifest health and safety policies and be consistent with their objectives. Objectives should be expressed in writing and extend to every relevant management mechanism. Generally, health and safety objectives should be specific and as much as possible be measurable. Regardless which manner objectives are defined, they should focus on the significant hazards as well as health and safety risks of the factory. When formulating the health and safety objectives, in addition to the factory resource, skill and feasibility considerations, it is also imperative to consider the extent of the influence of the health and safety risks. The health and safety policy realization function of the health and safety objectives should also allow the upgrade of the general health and safety performance, moreover health and safety objectives should be quantifiable as much as possible.
Defining the health and safety management program
The health and safety management program is defined for the achievement of objectives; hence it should be able to layout the method, time, person(s) in charge, and goals of each department. Primary considerations include: derivation of specific action plans from objectives, clear-cut and flexible responsibility definition of management program executors, timely revisions. Generally, a program is often creates for a single objective and the achievement time of each objective may vary. A factory could consolidate the other programs or plans under implementation for the simultaneous achievement of multiple projected objectives. Since a management program is the bridge between planning and execution, the various execution requirements (e.g. framework and responsibility, operations and document control, communication, inspection, etc.) should be clearly defined to ensure smooth execution.
Formulating document outline
The primary objective of document outline formulation is to integrate the occupational health & safety management system into the existing management system of the company for the realization of occupational health & safety management operations. To ensure the proper execution of occupational health & safety management system policies, objectives and management programs, integration with the existing system is imperative. Moreover, for the purpose of reducing excessive overlapping management documents, one should prepare the document outline beforehand. The more popular method is to prepare a checklist of existing management documents, may them be ISO 9000, ISO 14001, or other management system documents; then a comparative study with health and safety policies, objectives, and management programs should be conducted. Documents for addition or amendment should be identified then submitted to the departments concerned for preparatory work. The existing document management system of the company may be used as the opener for the internal management system integration to facilitate quality, environment, occupational health & safety management system integration. The endeavor would not only boost system operation efficiency, but also reduce the resistance due to the implementation of a new system.
4 Documentation stage
What the OHSAS 18001 requires is a complete system managing health and safety affairs, not a bunch of scattered management techniques. Hence, every management method and document regulation of the system should be systematically and documentarily expressed for the creation of a future management system that is “written into uniformity”. Therefore, document amendment, utilization, maintenance, preservation, and control should be regulated through written rules for utilization and management convenience. Documents should be properly updated, valid, clearly identified, and easily traced for the effective management execution. Every document should be able to reflect work conditions, and duly evaluated by the approving authority. Document compilation, preservation, revision, and retraction should be suit time and place. Generally, one should still refer to the ISO 14001 “document control” and best options available during the implementation of OHSAS 18001; since the two came from the same origin and are highly compatible.
OHSAS 18001 does not have many “documentation procedures”; but whatever circumstances are, aside from the procedure, the factory should define the criteria for support based on its requirements. Let us take hazard detection for instance some companies would separately define procedures for the acquisition of relevant documents or methods that would ameliorate management information. In the case of objective definition, the provisions only required organizations to establish documentation objectives, but some companies separately formulated procedures for objective definition, or use a complete procedure to define the steps and precautions necessary for the planning portion.
5 Implementation and operation stage
It does not matter what planning objectives were, how perfect planning was, or if planning was effective, what matters is the implementation execution. If policies, objectives, and programs are but matters of propaganda or are regarded as slogans, then their effects could not be optimized and the final planning objectives could never be achieved. In terms of the first health and safety management system established, since initial review was not included in the regular scope of execution of the system, one need not use a specific operating procedure to implement it. Once the health and safety policies have been set, proper utilization of initial review experience could simultaneously establish the document and execution plan procedures. Having completed planning operations, it is imperative to execute plan according to the management program. The relevant procedures, provisions, and operating standards should be established before program execution to avoid implementation difficulties.
The more special requirements in the execution of the occupational health & safety management system are communication and consultation. Since health and safety affairs are often interlinked and closely related to other parties, it is not just a matter of doing the job well, but one should also exchange opinions with the related groups or individuals whenever necessary. When dealing with internal operations, it is imperative to have two-way communication and consultation channels; when dealing with external matters, a good management is not dependent on one’s singular determination. It should be recognized by the external community; moreover, while handling health and safety affairs, the organization should acquire the consensus of interested parties to reduce conflicts and doubts. The organization should be willing to coordinate related safety regulations and control.
6 Checking and corrective action stage
It is imperative to continually check system execution trend to keep the health & safety management system operating properly; the examination and corrective measures serve this function. The OHSAS 18001 requires system to have at least inspection and measurement procedure, corrective and preventive measures for inconsistent conditions, recording, health and safety management system audit. These features are correlated and could keep system operation within the prescribed parameters of the law and standards.ã€‚
Inspection and measurement should be realized in daily operations and conducted in line with record management procedures. Records allow the tracing of execution results, so at the event of inconsistent conditions (including false alarm incidents), the authorized personnel should investigate matters as per prescribed procedure to reduce health and safety risks and prevent the recurrence of the same problem. In terms of health & safety management system audit, the organization should institute procedure and program control to ensure that system would not deviate from the plan and be efficiently maintained and executed. The audit also provides the management a basis for evaluation.
The progress of a health & safety management system is due to continuous follow-up and improvement. Techniques employed are health & safety management system audit and top executive management review. The purpose of health & safety management system audit is to make sure the organization “accomplished the job”. It is regular conducted by the internal auditor of the factory, who examines whether operations meet the prescribed procedure and standards; whether departments complied with health and safety policies and objectives. The management review aims to ensure that “job is done properly” and done by the authorized top executive. The audit reports, past records, and inspection results determine whether the next stage of the entire organization and management system will be in the right direction.
7 Management review
The completion of the management review marks the end of a PDCA cycle; it means one could prepare official verification. Prior to the official evaluation of the verification personnel, the factory should verify the completion of the following important matters: at least one PDCA management cycle was completed; the appropriate records were retained; all required documents were executed; version has been updated; execution operation records were written and approved as regulated; related supporting documents are attached; related parties have a full understanding of the health & safety policies, health & safety risks, and objective execution conditions; subcontractors and vendors were included in the health & safety management system management; health & safety management system audit has been improved (including internal audit or external evaluation); resolution of the deficiencies found during the previous audit, conclusion of management review, or other matters under related procedure execution.
8 Continuous improvement stage
Introducing a new management system would give rise to problems during implementation. As long as problems are not serious enough to cause system breakdown or failure, improvements could be instituted. Continuous improvement of the system could be effected through management system audit and management review; as such is a basic requirement of OHSAS 18001. Prior knowledge of factors that may lead to possible problems could save manpower and material costs, as well as post-mortem efforts. The factory should maintain such a healthy state of mind when executing the OHSAS 18001, instead of going on a blind pursuit of a piece of certificate, this way, the factory not only alleviates personnel injury and environmental damages, reduce risk, reduce cost, improve factory image, upgrade factory performance through the health & safety management system.
In the continuous improvement process, the two major mechanisms fostering continuous improvement are “health & safety management system audit” and “management review”. A planned and full-scale health & safety management system audit could locate the common factors and special factors causing the health and safety performance problems resulting from system deficiency. The top executive determines the right direction for the systematic consideration of health and safety problem solutions, as well as the continuous execution of the PDCA logic continuous improvement mechanisms.
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