Implementing a Health and Safety Management System
I would like to introduce the approach of adopting and implementing Health and Safety Management System.
In today’s world organizations can no longer manage workplace health and safety informally or reactively. Having some basic safety standards or manual not properly designed, implemented and maintained would not stand the test of compliance to health and occupational safety acts, codes and regulations as well as be able to demonstrate due diligence. Most importantly they will not protect your employees from workplace accidents or your business.
Health and Safety must be managed with the same formal approach organizations are using to manage areas such as productivity, finances, quality and service.
A Health and Safety Management System provides the framework for developing occupational safety initiatives, and if carried out properly, allow for proactive management of health and safety.
Health and Safety Management System
A good start would be to define what a health and safety management system is. This is important since many organizations I have worked with thought they had a management system but all they really had was a bunch of standard all over the place not being managed by anything or anyone. They were either outdated or not fully implemented or maintained in any way. Occupational Safety is more than the WHMS chart in the kitchen or a dusty manual which half the staff are not even aware of.
Health and Safety Management System standards such as CSA Z1000-06 and BSI OHSAS 18001-07 define management systems as:
- A set of interrelated elements to establish and support the OHS policy, its objectives and targets and the mechanism to achieve them. (CSA Z1000-06)
- Part of the overall management system that facilitates the management of the OH&S risks associated with the business of the organization. This includes the organizational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources for developing, implementing, achieving, reviewing and maintaining the organizations OH&S policy. (BSI OHSAS 18001-07)
Maintaining a Health and Safety Management System
If you truly to have a system for occupational safety, it must be self sustaining and not relying on one or two individuals to maintain it, and it must also be based on continual improvement. Keep in mind that your development, implementation and maintenance is never ending.
The first challenge to implementing an occupational safety management system is to have a champion that will facilitate the process and to understand the requirements based on existing health and safety management system standards. This may involve some formal training on the standards. This champion should be able to bring many of the complex requirements into your workplace, which if necessary will meet the minimum standard of due diligence in a court of law.
Depending on the type of work your organization is involved in you can determine which standard to consider. If your organization only does work within Canada then you should consider the CSA Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) Standard CSA Z100-06. If your organization is involve in doing work both nationally and internationally, you should consider BSI Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) Standard 18001-07. Both standards are very similar therefore it does not mean that more work is involved in complying with both.
The level of complexity you will need to implement occupational safety will be directly based on your organizations size and hazards. Even small organizations can benefit greatly from a health and safety management system approach.
The next challenge is to get senior management commitment and support to take your current health and safety program to the next level by adopting a management system. Without senior management support and commitment the chances for success will be very low.