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Occupational Health and Safety Management Standards Specified by ISO

Narendra Kumar

| Updated: Sep 05, 2018 | Category: ISO Registration

ISO OHSAS 18001 Certification

ISO OHSAS 18001 Certification

It has been reported that every day about 7500 people die from work-related hazards or diseases – of this about 1000 people die from accidents at their place of occupation and about 6500 from work-related diseases. As per the international Labor Organization (ILO), more than 2.78 million deaths are reported every year due to these reasons. Other than this there are approximately 374 million deaths due to non-fatal work-related diseases and illness every year. ISO OHSAS 18001 Certification.

In view of the above statistics, the International Organization for Standardization in liaison with other international organizations has devised standards that are required to be followed by organizations to ensure that cases of injuries and deaths due to workplace-related issues are minimized substantially as well as employers are able to provide transparent and trustworthy processes within the organization. Organizations that follow standards for occupational health and safety systems are able to gain the confidence and reputation of all involved stakeholders – employees, customers, shareholders and even the public in general.

ISO 45001 Certification

The newest standard on Occupational health and safety management systems is the ISO 45001 that has been drawn from the OHSAS 18001. The OHSAS 18001 also called the British Standard Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series is aimed at providing organizations the framework to demonstrate sound and sensible occupational health and safety parameters in the organization. Over a period of next three years, this benchmark for health and safety management system is to be replaced by ISO 45001. The new standard is not a revision or an update of its predecessor and organizations would be required to re-align their current practices and objectives to remain compliant with the international Occupational health and safety management systems

Difference between ISO 45001 and OHSAS 18001

  1. The primary difference between the two is that ISO OHSAS 18001 concentrates on ways and means of managing OH&S hazards whereas the new standard focuses on the interaction and interdependency between an organization and its business environment.
  2. The OHSAS 18001 works on improving and streamlining procedures. The ISO 45001 is process based.
  3. OHSAS 18001 exclusively deals with risks and the ISO 45001 evaluates risks as well as opportunities.
  4. Since the newer version takes into account the environment of the business it considers the views of interested parties whereas the older standard does not do so.

Though there are differences, it has been noted that an organization compliant with OHSAS 18001 will provide a sound and strong platform for them to migrate to ISO 45001.

In the ISO 45001, the role of the management leadership team has been emphasized. The top management of the company should take accountability for preventing work-related injuries to provide a safe and healthy working environment. They are accountable and responsible for the health and safety of their employees. The top management is required to be actively or proactively involved in taking initiatives to improve OH&S systems. It is the top management’s role to ensure that workers participate in the OH&S systems, both managerial and non-managerial staff; that any worker who reports hazards and risks is protected. It has been clearly mentioned that the top management can delegate tasks but not their responsibility.

The OHSAS system was developed by the OHSAS project group that consisted of members from national standard bodies, academic bodies, accreditation agencies, certifying bodies and institutions dealing in occupational safety and health. The British Standards Institution (BSI) of United Kingdom also played a prominent part in the drawing up the standards.  The project group published the standards in 1999. The OHSAS 18001 was updated in July 2007. At this point in time, the revisions were made aligning them with the ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 thereby making it easy for organizations to adopt the system with the management standard systems. For many organizations, the combination of all the three systems has worked well in minimizing costs and work oriented disturbances.

Method of working of the OHSAS 18001

The OHSAS 18001 helps organizations to:-

  1. Identifying areas of potential health and safety risks and taking steps to control them.
  2. Reducing the probability of accidents
  3. Legal compliance
  4. Improve overall performance

The OHSAS 18001 is applicable for all types of industries and across all boundaries of geography, social and cultural conditions.

The Process of ISO OHSAS 18001 Certification

  1. The first step is to find out the objective of putting occupational health and safety management and how the OHSAS 18001 standard is the best framework for the organization.
  2. The procedure to implement the OHSAS 18001 is laid down.
  3. The third step is getting the occupational health management audited by an independent external agency to obtain the OHSAS 18001 certification.
  4. The last step is to keep on working on the system on a continuing basis so that the practices are sustained and improved upon the interest of the organization.

Benefits of OHSAS 18001

  1. Implementing an effective system helps create the best working conditions in the organization
  2. It helps the organization to understand and identify existing hazards and apply controls to manage them.
  3. Helps in reducing accidents in the place of work as well as work-related ill-health of employees. This helps cut costs.
  4. Creates a congenial working atmosphere in the organization which motivates employees to work better thereby increasing their productivity.
  5. All external stakeholders like customers and suppliers place higher trust in organizations that are compliant to an international standard.
  6. Improves the reputation of the organization thereby leading to an increase in opportunities to gain new business

The OHSAS 18001 system is highly flexible. It can be customized as per requirement. It can also be based on an existing system in place if any.

Implementation of the OHSAS 18001 system requires the following:-

  1. The senior management’s commitment and support is the foremost requirement
  2. The entire organization needs to be involved in the process and communicated on the implementation and objectives
  3. Comparing the existing health and safety management system with the OHSAS 18001 certification requirements.
  4. Feedback from staff and suppliers need to be taken
  5. The implementation team needs to be selected
  6. The roles and timelines need to be defined
  7. All relevant requirements of the OHSAS 18001 system need to be worked upon
  8. The staff needs to be trained and incentivized. Some of these staff members are to be trained as internal auditors.
  9. Regular review of the OHSAS 18001 system needs to be done to be assured that it is moving in the correct direction and also be improved upon with changing demands of the business.

Migration to ISO 45001 from OHSAS 18001

The first step to undertake the migration process is undertaking an internal gap analysis. The purpose of this analysis is to find out if the current system has many loopholes and weaknesses before going in for a formal assessment by a third party independent agency, also known as the certification body. For the internal audit, following the ‘Plan, Do, Check and Act’ approach will make the transition smooth. During the independent certification body audit, it is important that the body analyzes that the system is incomplete conformation to guidelines of ISO 45001. Two important aspects of the audit are to check the documentation and implementation.

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Narendra Kumar

Experienced Finance and Legal Professional with 12+ Years of Experience in Legal, Finance, Fintech, Blockchain, and Revenue Management.

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