Occupational Health and Safety Management System
Occupational Health and Safety Management System
In the present day environment, organizations of all kinds are increasingly concerned with achieving and demonstrating sound occupational health and safety (OH&S) performance by controlling their OH&S risks, consistent with their OH&S policy, and objectives. It is being done in the context of increasingly stringent statutory requirements, development of economic policies, and other measures which promote good OH&S practices in the organizations. However, in spite of the OH&S in the workplace being the number one concern of the majority of the organizations, still accidents resulting into injuries and deaths do occur. Hence, the issue of integrating consideration of OH&S into the daily management system is very important.
The importance of managing OH&S in an organization on a sound footing is recognized by all interested parties such as management, employees, customers, suppliers, insurers, shareholders, contractors, statutory and regulatory agencies, and the local community. There is a necessity for the organization to control and improve its OH&S performance. For this, the organization is required to have a sound OH&S policy and to show a strong commitment for the health and safety of its employees. This can be achieved by establishing and implementing an OH&S management system within the organization.
An organization is responsible for the OH&S of its employees and others who can be affected by its activities. This responsibility includes promoting and protecting the physical and mental health. The organization which manages OH&S successfully invariably has a positive safety culture and active safety consultation programmes in place. It establishes and maintains the organizational culture which supports OH&S. Organizations which are successful in their field of operations frequently excel at OH&S management as well, precisely since they apply the same efficient expertise to OH&S as to all other aspects of their operations.
The principles of OH&S are universal, but how much action is needed in the organization, depends on the size of the organization, the hazards presented by its activities, the physical characteristics of the organization, its products or services, and the adequacy of its existing arrangements. Several of the features of effective OH&S management are analogous to the sound management practices which are followed for the quality management, environmental protection, and operational excellence. While the quality management of products or services and environmental protection principally protect physical phenomena, OH&S management in the workplace involves protecting people and developing a safety culture between the management and employees.
OH&S constitutes a system which deals with the prevention of injuries and illnesses related to work, as well as the protection and improvement of the health of the employees. It aims to improve the working conditions and the surrounding environment. Occupational health includes promoting and maintaining the highest degree of physical and mental health and social well-being of the employees of all professions in the organization. In this context, the basic principles of the process of assessing and managing occupational hazards is based on the expectation, recognition, evaluation, and control of the risks arising in or from the workplace and which are harmful to the health and well-being of the employees.
OH&S management systems have been defined as ‘a combination of the planning and review, the management organizational arrangements, the consultative arrangements, and the specific programme elements which work together in an integrated way to improve OH&S performance’. These systems differ from earlier methods. They make those in the workplace more responsible for OH&S, but this responsibility is discharged through an integrated management system rather than the earlier method consisting of ad-hoc structures and prescriptions.
The purpose of an OH&S management system is to provide a framework for managing OH&S risks and opportunities. The aim and intended outcomes of the OH&S management system are to prevent the work related injury and ill health to the employees and to provide safe and healthy workplaces, and hence, it is critically important for the organization to eliminate hazards and minimize OH&S risks by taking effective preventive and protective measures. When these measures are applied by the organization through its OH&S management system, they improve its OH&S performance. An OH&S management system can be more effective and efficient when early actions are taken to address opportunities for improvement of OH&S performance. Fig 1 shows key elements of the OH&S management system.
Fig 1 Key elements of an OH&S management system
There are the three basic aspects of OH&S management system in an organization consisting mainly of (i) hazard identification, (ii) risk assessment, and (iii) determination of the applicable controls. For an effective OH&S management system, it is very important for the organization to handle these basic aspects with significance since these three basic aspects provide the important foundation for the successful implementation of the OH&S management system. These three basic aspects are described below.
Hazard identification – It is the process of recognizing that a hazard exists. A hazard is a source or situation which has potential to cause harm in terms of human injury or ill health.
Risk assessment – It is the process of evaluating the risk arising from a hazard. The risk can be the combination of the likelihood of a hazardous event, or exposure and the severity of the injury, or ill health which can be caused by the event of exposure.
Determination of applicable controls – These are the measures relevant to eliminate or to reduce risk to an acceptable level. Measures are based on the hierarchy of the controls. The framework of the OH&S management system is based on two main concepts of continual improvement and regulatory compliance.
By adopting a systematic approach including the employee participation, the organization can integrate OH&S management system within its operational processes which contributes to the prevention of accidents and long and short term ill health effects. The OH&S management system provides a platform to develop a positive OH&S culture leading to the wellbeing of the employees. The positive impact of introducing OH&S management system at the organizational level, both on the reduction of hazards and risks and on productivity, is now recognized by statutory authorities, organizational managements, and the employees as well as the employees’ representatives.
OH&S management system is a network of inter-related elements. These elements include responsibilities, authorities, relationships, functions, activities, processes, practices, procedures, and resources. These elements are used to establish OH&S policy, plans, programmes, and objectives. OH&S management system is a systematic and process driven approach for controlling and monitoring OH&S risks which can arise from the day to day activities of the organization. It also addresses to those OH&S risks which can be there due to the changes in the statutory provisions. The system helps the organization to be proactive rather than reactive and hence helps the organization to improve its OH&S performance more effectively while protecting the health and welfare of the employees on an ongoing basis. Different steps involved in the implementation of the OH&S management system in the organization are shown in Fig 2.
Fig 2 Steps in the implementation of OH&S management system
The implementation of an OH&S management system is a strategic and operational decision for the organization. The success of the OH&S management system depends on leadership, commitment, and participation from all levels and functions of the organization. The implementation and maintenance of an OH&S management system, its effectiveness, and its ability to achieve its intended end results are dependent on a number of key factors, which can include (i) leadership, commitment, responsibilities, and accountability of the top management , (ii) developing, leading, and promoting a culture in the organization by the top management which supports the intended outcomes of the OH&S management system, (iii) effective communication in the organization, (iv) consultation and participation of the employees, and the employees’ representatives where they exist, (v) allocation of the necessary resources to maintain the OH&S management system, (vi) OH&S policy which is to be compatible with the overall strategic objectives and direction of the organization, (vii) effective processes for identifying hazards, controlling OH&S risks, and taking advantage of OH&S opportunities, (viii) continual performance evaluation and monitoring of the OH&S management system to improve OH&S performance, (ix) integration of the OH&S management system into the operational processes of the organization, (x) OH&S objectives which align with the OH&S policy and take into account the organizational hazards, OH&S risks, and OH&S opportunities, and (xi) compliance with the statutory, regulatory, and other requirements.
The level of detail, the complexity, the extent of documented information, and the resources needed for ensuring the success of the OH&S management system of the organization depends on a number of factors, such as (i) the organization’s context (e.g. number of employees, size, layout, geographical location, culture, regulatory and other requirements), (ii) the scope of the OH&S management system of the organization, and (iii) the nature of the activities of the organization and the related OH&S risks.
The OH&S management system follows the concept of Plan-Do- Check-Act [PDCA] cycle as shown in Fig 3. The PDCA concept is an iterative process used by various organizations to achieve continual improvement. It can be applied to a management system and to each of its individual elements of the OH&S management system such as (i) ‘Plan’ to determine and assess OH&S risks, OH&S opportunities, and other risks and other opportunities, establish OH&S objectives and processes necessary to deliver results in accordance with the OH&S policy of the organization, (ii) ‘Do’ to implement the processes as planned, (iii) ‘Check’ to monitor and measure activities and processes with regard to the OH&S policy and OH&S objectives, and report the results, and (iv) ‘Act’ to take actions to continually improve the OH&S performance in order to achieve the intended outcomes.
Fig 3 OH&S management system and PDCA cycle
Basic requirements for OH&S management system
There are the some basic requirements which are required to be fulfilled for the implementation of the OH&S management system. These are given below.
- To develop, document, implement, maintain and improve OH&S management system.
- To define, document, implement, maintain, and communicate the OH&S policy of the organization.
- To develop a methodology and to establish procedures to identify hazards and to assess the organizational risks and also to implement and maintain hazard identification and risk assessment methods and procedures.
- To reduce OH&S risks by selecting appropriate controls and to establish procedures for the selection of the controls and to implement and maintain these procedures.
- To establish procedures to identify and access all the applicable statutory and non-statutory requirements. To keep all the statutory and non-statutory OH&S requirements upto date and communicate information about regulatory OH&S requirements to all the interested parties.
- To establish, develop, and implement OH&S objectives of the organization. Also to establish, develop, implement, and maintain OH&S programmes to achieve OH&S objectives.
- Top management is to accept responsibility and demonstrate a commitment for OH&S. A member of the management is to be appointed to manage and control OH&S management system. It is to be ensured that the employees take responsibility of OH&S.
- To ensure the competence of the employees who perform tasks which can have an impact on employees’ health and safety and to maintain records to provide evidence that these employees are competent.
- To identify OH&S training needs of the organization and to establish training methods and procedures, to provide training to meet the needs of training, and to evaluate overall effectiveness of the training activities and maintain records of training activities and results as objective evidence.
- To establish, implement, and maintain procedure to make the employees aware of the OH&S.
- To establish procedures for OH&S communication. To establish, develop control, implement, and maintain procedure for internal communications. To establish, develop, implement, and maintain procedure for communication about safety of visitors and the employees’ of contractors. To establish, develop, implement, and maintain procedure to control external communications.
- To establish, develop, implement and maintain procedure for employees’ participation in OH&S activities. This procedure is to include consultation with the employees and their involvement in the OH&S matters.
- To establish, develop, implement, and maintain procedure for consultation, participation and involvement of contractors in OH&S activities. This procedure is also to include consultation with external parties regarding OH&S matters.
- To prepare and maintain documentation of OH&S policy, OH&S objectives, scope of OH&S management system, elements of OH&S management system, and the interaction of the elements of OH&S management system.
- All the documents and the records are to be controlled. To establish, develop, implement, and maintain procedure for control of OH&S documents and OH&S management system records.
- To identify those operations and activities which are to use controls to manage hazards and reduce risks as well as implementation of the required controls and operating criteria to manage hazards and to reduce risks. To implement and maintain the documented procedures and controls to reduce risks. To establish, test, implement, and review the emergency management procedures.
- To establish, implement, and maintain procedures for monitoring and measurement of OH&S performance, to record the results of monitoring and measurement activities for objective evidence, and to establish, implement, and maintain procedures for monitoring and measurement equipments.
- To evaluate compliance with statutory and non-statutory requirements. To establish a procedure for each to periodically evaluate how well the organization complies with the statutory and non-statutory requirements. The results of the compliance evaluations are to be kept as records for objective evidence.
- To establish, implement, and maintain procedures for investigation of the incidents and for taking of remedial measures.
- To establish, implement, and maintain procedures for management of non-conformities i.e. for identification of non conformities and taking of corrective and preventive actions.
- To establish and maintain OH&S records. To develop and implement procedures for record keeping and for controlling of the records.
- To establish, implement, and maintain a programme for the internal audit of the OH&S management system.
- To review the OH&S management system by examining the inputs, and to assess the results of management reviews and to generate the outputs of management reviews and communicate them.
OH&S management system standards
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) issued in March 2018 a new and distinct OH&S management system standard ‘ISO 45001:2018, Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements with guidance for use’. It is the standard which deals with health and safety at work. This new ISO standard has become one of the most eagerly awaited standards in the world, and is set to drastically improve levels of workplace safety.
ISO 45001 offers a single, clear framework for all organizations wishing to improve their OH&S performance. Directed at the top management of the organization, it aims to provide a safe and healthy workplace for the employees and visitors. To achieve this, it is crucial to control all factors which can result in illness, injury, and in extreme cases death, by mitigating adverse effects on the physical, mental, and cognitive condition of a person and ISO 45001 covers all of these aspects. The ISO 45001 standard solely focuses on the OH&S management system of the organization. The standard works towards eliminating the chance of any potential disease and injuries related to occupation. It also follows the structure of ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 9001:2015, so that it is easy to integrate ISO 45001 with these standards.
The benefits of ISO 45001 are endless when implemented correctly. While the standard requires that OH&S risks be addressed and controlled, it also takes a risk-based approach to the OH&S management system itself, to ensure that it is effective and that it is being continually improved to meet ever-changing ‘context’ of the organization. It also ensures compliance with current statutory requirements worldwide. All these measures combined can establish the reputation of the organization as a ‘safe place to work’, bringing a host of corollary benefits, from reducing insurance costs to improving employee morale , all while continuing to meet the organizational strategic targets.
ISO 45001 draws on OHSAS 18001 which has been the former benchmark for OH&S management system and the most widely recognized and used standard in the world. OHSAS 18001 is an Occupational Health and Safety assessment Series for health and safety management systems. It is intended to help an organization to control occupational health and safety risks. It was developed in response for a widespread demand for a recognized standard against which OH&S management system of an organization can be certified and assessed. The first edition of this standard was issued in 1999. The standard has been revised in 2007. Prior to 1999, there was a proliferation of national standards and proprietary certification schemes to choose from. This has caused a lot of confusion and undermined the credibility of each individual scheme. Recognizing this deficit, an international collaboration called The Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Services (OHSAS) Project Group was formed to create a single unified approach.
The OHSAS project Group consisted of a consortium of 14 organizations for the 1999 edition and 43 organizations from 28 countries for the 2007 edition. The consortium includes a number of the world’s leading national standards bodies, registrars (certification bodies), consultants, and occupational health and safety institutes. British standards Institution (BSI Group), the national standard body of UK, provided the secretariat. The Series consisted of two specifications: 18001 provided requirements for an OHS management system and 18002 gave implementation guidelines.
The OHSAS 18001 specification was updated in July 2007. Among other changes, the new specification was more closely aligned with the structures of ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 so that organizations could more easily adopt OHSAS 18001 alongside existing management systems. Additionally, the ‘health’ component of ‘health and safety’ was given greater emphasis.
OHSAS 18001 is the auditable standard in the OHSAS 18000 family. OHSAS 18001 uses Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) methodology to organize the OH&S activities. The 18001 specification is applicable to any organization which wishes to (i) establish an OH&S management system to eliminate or minimize risk to employees and other interested parties who can be exposed to OH&S risks associated with its activities, (ii) assure itself of its conformance with the stated OH&S policy, (ii) demonstrate such conformance to others, (iv) implement, maintain, and continually improve an OH&S management system , (v) make a self determination and declaration of conformance with the OHSAS 18001 specification, and (vi) seek certification / registration of its OH&S management system by an external organization.
ISO 45001 specifies requirements for the OH&S management system in the organization, and gives guidance for its use, to enable organizations to provide safe and healthy workplaces by preventing work-related injury and ill health, as well as by proactively improving its OH&S performance. It is applicable to any organization which wishes to establish, implement, and maintain an OH&S management system to improve OH&S in the organization, eliminate hazards and minimize OH&S risks (including system deficiencies), take advantage of OH&S opportunities, and address OH&S management system nonconformities associated with its activities. It helps the organization to achieve the intended outcomes of its OH&S management system. Consistent with the OH&S policy of the organization, the intended outcomes of an OH&S management system include (i) continual improvement of OH&S performance, (ii) fulfillment of statutory and other requirements, and (iii) achievement of OH&S objectives.
ISO 45001 conforms to the requirements for management system standards of ISO. These requirements include a high level structure, identical core text and common terms with core definitions, designed to benefit users implementing multiple ISO management system standards. This standard does not include requirements specific to other subjects, such as those for quality, social responsibility, environmental, security, or financial management, though its elements can be aligned or integrated with those of other management systems.
ISO 45001 contains requirements which can be used by the organization to implement the OH&S management system and to assess conformity. The organization which wishes to demonstrate conformity to this standard can do so by making a self-determination and self-declaration, or seeking confirmation of its conformity by parties having an interest in the organization, such as customers, or seeking confirmation of its self-declaration by a party external to the organization, or seeking certification / registration of its OH&S management system by an external organization.
Clauses 1 to 3 of this standard set out the scope, normative references, and terms and definitions which apply to the use of this standard, while the clause 4 contains the requirements to be used to assess the conformity to this standard. Annexure A provides informative explanations to these requirements. The terms and definitions in the clause 3 are arranged in conceptual order, with an alphabetical index provided at the end of the standard.
ISO 45001 specifies requirements for an OH&S management system, and gives guidance for its use, to enable organizations to provide safe and healthy workplaces by preventing work-related injury and ill health, as well as by proactively improving its OH&S performance. It is applicable to any organization which wishes to establish, implement, and maintain an OH&S management system to improve occupational health and safety, eliminate hazards and minimize OH&S risks (including system deficiencies], take advantage of OH&S opportunities, and address OH&S management system nonconformities associated with its activities.
ISO 45001 helps the organization to achieve the intended outcomes of its OH&S management system. Consistent with the OH&S policy of the organization, the intended outcomes of an OH&S management system include (i) continual improvement of OH&S performance, (ii) fulfillment of the statutory and other requirements, and (iii) achievement of OH&S objectives. The standard is applicable to any organization regardless of its size, type, and activities. It is applicable to the OH&S risks under the control of the organization, taking into account factors such as the context in which the organization operates and the needs and expectations of its employees and other interested parties.
ISO 45001 does not state specific criteria for OH&S performance, nor is it prescriptive about the design of an OH&S management system. It enables the organization, through its OH&S management system, to integrate other aspects of health and safety, such as wellness / wellbeing of the employees. The standard does not address issues such as product safety, property damage, or environmental impacts, beyond the risks to the employees and other relevant interested parties. The standard can be used in whole or in part to systematically improve OH&S management. However, claims of conformity to this standard are not acceptable unless all its requirements are incorporated into the OH&S management system of the organization and fulfilled without exclusion.
ISO 45001 adopts Annex SL, which is the high-level structure for modern ISO Standards. Hence, the standard share a high-level structure (HLS), identical core text and terms and definitions with other recently revised ISO management system standards such as ISO 9001:2015 (quality management) and ISO 14001:2015 (environmental management). Further, If the organization is already acquainted with the common framework, then much of ISO 45001 becomes familiar to the organization, and the organization is then need to fill the ‘gaps’ in the organizational system.
The common framework (the aforementioned HLS) of the ISO for management system standards has been deliberately developed to facilitate the integration of new management standard into the existing management systems of the organization. Since ISO 45001 also follows the structure of ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 9001:2015, it is easy to integrate these standards in the organization. For example, ISO 45001 is based fairly closely on ISO 14001 so that the organizations can combine their OH&S and environmental functions internally.
Important differences between OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001 standard
The ISO 45001 focuses solely on the OH&S management system of the organization. This standard works towards eliminating the chance of any potential disease and injuries related to occupation, if the organization has received the ISO 45001:2018 certification. There are some differences between ISO 45001 and OHSAS 18001 which are described below.
ISO 45001 concentrates on the interaction between an organization and its working environment while OHSAS 18001 has focused on managing OH&S hazards and other internal issues related to it. However, the ISO 45001 focus on the interaction between the working environment and the organization helps to minimize or eliminate the chance of any hazard.
The ISO 45001 standard is a process-based certification while the OHSAS 18001 is a procedure-based certification. The first one focuses primarily on why the hazard happens rather than concentrating solely on the solution part.
ISO 45001 is truly a dynamic standard in all clauses while OHSAS 18001 is not dynamic. Besides addressing all the OH&S issues of the organization, The ISO standard also provides the organization the much-required confidence in safety management for efficient productivity and improved working condition for all the employees.
The OHSAS 18001 certification primarily focuses on the occupational risk of the organization while the ISO 45001 focuses on both the risk and opportunities. By doing so, it not only eliminates the chance of future hazards and also finds opportunities to improve the overall OH&S standard in the organization.
OHSAS 18001 does not include the views of the interested parties of the organization. However, the ISO 45001 standard contains all the aspects. With that inclusion, it not only creates the engagement of all the parties but also creates a better working environment.
Migration of OHSAS 18001 certified organization to ISO 45001
The points of difference between OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001 as stated above represent a significant shift in the way OH&S management is perceived. OH&S management is no longer treated as a ‘stand alone’, but it is viewed within the perspective of running a sound and sustainable organization. That being said, although the two standards differ in their approach, a management system established in accordance with OHSAS 18001 has a solid platform for migrating to ISO 45001.
This ISO standard is based on the OHSAS 18001 which also focuses on the OH&S assessments. The organization which has already acquired the OHSAS 18001 certification can easily migrate to the ISO 45001. Although the ISO 45001 standard is mainly based on the OHSAS 18001 standard, several steps are to be taken to ‘prepare the ground’ when migrating from OHSAS 18001, so to speak, before the new management system itself can be established. For this, it necessary to follow the following sequence.
- To perform the analysis of interested parties (i.e. those individuals or organizations which can affect the activities of the organization) and also the analysis of the internal and external factors impacting the working of the organization. This is to be done to find out how these risks can be controlled through the management system.
- To establish the scope of the system, while considering what the management system is set to achieve.
- To use this information to establish the organizational processes, the risk evaluation / assessment and, most importantly, to set the key performance indicators (KPIs) for the processes.
Once the organization has adapted all the data to the tools of OHSAS 18001, then the reuse most of what the organization already have in the new management system. Hence, while the approach is quite different, the basic tools are the same.
With the migration from OHSAS 18001 standard to ISO 45001 standard, the organization can witness a considerable shift in the way the organization perceives the OH&S management and other issues related to it. And in the present day environment, the OH&S is not a standalone issue for the organization. In fact, it has become an integral part of the whole operational procedure to maintain a sustainable organization. Although the approaches of these two standards are different, any organization can now migrate to ISO 45001 easily, if it has previously followed the guidelines of the OHSAS 18001.
Benefits of OH&S management system
The OH&S management system include transformation of the operation from detection mode to prevention mode. Prevention means lesser work and is less expensive then the detection mode of operation. By implementing the OH&S management system, the organization mitigates or eliminates the hazards and the risks to protect the health and safety of its employees. OH&S management system creates a corporate culture where employees are aware of their individual roles and responsibilities in looking after their own health and safety. Due to this culture employees are more likely to avoid potential hazards.
OH&S management system reduces dependence on key individuals since it distributes responsibility and accountability across the employees. More people share more information and accountability for key tasks. It provides blueprint for controlled and disciplined growth and shows a way for organizing and systematizing different practices for ensuring management accountability. Further, it ensures consistent training of the employees.
There are several benefits of OH&S management system which includes (i) increased organizational resilience through proactive risk prevention, innovation, and continual improvement, (ii) strengthening of statutory and regulatory compliance whilst reducing operational losses, (iii) demonstration of brand responsibility by committing to safe, healthy, and sustainable work, and (iv) one global OH&S system for all the departments in the organization. These result into (i) fewer accidents / ill-health incidences, (ii) lower absenteeism / employee turnover, (iii) lower health insurance premiums for the employees, (iv) helps with ensuring statutory compliance, (v) enhanced reputation of the employees, and (vi) cost reduction. Besides reduction in the costs, effective OH&S management system promotes operational efficiency in the organization.
Other benefits of the OH&S management system include (i) it creates consistency throughout the organization since the ‘best practices’ get introduced in the working of the organization, (ii) it improves the performance of the organization since a well designed and well implemented OH&S management system helps in reducing the workplace illness and injury, (iii) it improves the employees’ morale and hence their performance, (iv) it improves management oversight since it incorporates monitoring and measurement of key performance indicators for providing objective data upon which the management decisions can be based, and (v) it helps in managing OH&S risks since it creates better working conditions with operational controls in place.