Introduction to OHSAS 18001
Posted by isoeasy on May 17, 2006
Occupational safety and health is the discipline concerned with protecting the safety, health and welfare of employees, organisations, and others affected by the work they undertake (such as customers, suppliers, and members of the public).
The primary, and arguably most prominent reason for occupational safety and health (OSH) standards are moral – an employee should not have to expect that by coming to work they are risking life or limb, and nor should others affected by their undertaking.
The management of health and safety is becoming a growing problem in the UK. Recent figures from the Health and Safety Executive show that there were 235 workplace fatalities reported in the period 2003/4 representing a 4% increase over the previous year. Additionally, there were over 150,000 other injuries reported in 2002/3. It is estimated that ill health and injury now costs British industry around 3% of GDP.
In the European Union, Member States have enforcing authorities to ensure that the basic legal requirements relating to occupational safety and health are met. In many EU countries, there is strong cooperation between employer and worker organisations (e.g. Unions) to ensure good OSH performance as it is recognized this has benefits for both worker (maintenance of health) and enterprise (improved productivity and quality).
OSH standards are, generally speaking, further reinforced in both civil law and criminal law; it is accepted that without the extra "encouragement" of potential litigation, many organisations would not act upon their implied moral obligations.
What is OHSAS 18001?
OHSAS 18001 is a specification for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) management systems that was published in 1999. It was jointly developed by a number of the international third party certification bodies and national standards bodies from the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Japan, Spain, Malaysia, Singapore, Mexico and other interested parties from around the world.
The specification was developed to provide a model for OHS management systems and their internal or external assessment and/or certification in the absence of a suitable international (ISO) standard. It is closely aligned with ISO 14001:1996, the model for environmental management.
‘OHSAS 18002:2000: Guidelines for the implementation of OHSAS 18001’ has been written to help explain and ensure consistent interpretation of OHSAS 18001. This guide contains all the requirements set out in OHSAS 18001, together with explanatory guidance on each section in turn. In particular, OHSAS 18002 provides guidance on how the various parts of the management system must interact with each other, with risk assessment forming the heart of the management system, providing inputs to the other elements of the system.
Both documents are available from national standards bodies.
How can OHSAS 18001 benefit my organisation?
Whether you have a contractual requirement to gain certification to OHSAS 18001, or one of the growing numbers of organisations looking to reduce the overall risks to the organisation and demonstrate good governance, there are a number of key benefits with implementing a certified OHS management system. These include:
> a structured approach to hazard identification and risk management which can contribute to the provision of a healthier and > safer working environment and the avoidance of a high proportion of accidents and occupational health problems – this > should help reduce lost time through employee illness and injury
> the management of health and safety becoming more transparent and effective by translating the outputs of risk assessment, audits, inspections, legal reviews and incident investigations into action plans to minimise the risk of accidents
> improved staff morale, potential reductions in liability claims and lower insurance premiums
> increased credibility from having an OHS management system independently assessed
How can we gain certification to OHSAS 18001?
Certification bodies suich as LRQA and BSI provide a range of assessment, certification and training services to this standard.