The pressures for organizations to be competitive in today’s world economy are constantly growing. The economy, competition, employment statistics and legal compliance are ever demanding factors companies are facing. Health and safety compliance is, and should be, the top priority for organizations. One of the great system tools available to meet this priority is OHSAS 18001. OHSAS 18001 is a system that provides organizations the structured framework necessary to demonstrate compliancy as well as develop cost effective and effi cient operations.

OHSAS 18001 is a set of voluntary guidelines for establishing a systematic process of health and safety management. The underlying principle of OHSAS 18001 is that it is a continual improvement process encompassing four steps: Plan, Do, Check, Act.

There a numerous benefits to an organization implementing an OHSAS 18001 management system.

  1. OHSAS 18001 is an international standard. For global organizations trying to address regulations and requirements from several different legal jurisdictions, adopting OHSAS 18001 as the organization’s mandatory safety management system gives the organization one common standard to which all entities may be monitored and measured, no matter the differences in local regulations and requirements.
  2. OHSAS 18001 provides a formal structure to identify and control work-related health and safety risks to workers, contractors and visitors. The sections of OHSAS 18001 identify key areas that organizations may miss by not using a structured framework. A few areas may be structure and responsibility; training, awareness and competence; objectives and targets; performance monitoring and measuring; and internal auditing.
  3. OHSAS 18001 provides a competitive advantage. As a recognizable international standard, customers immediately recognize a demonstrated commitment by the organization in health and safety at the workplace. A formal safety management system may also be required by customers in order to become a supplier to the organization.
  4. OHSAS 18001 is compatible with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. An organization can easily integrate OHSAS 18001 into an already established quality or environmental management program.
  5. The OHSAS 18001 management system provides evidence of compliance to legal and other requirements. Transparency between the documented procedures to the requirements aids in providing corporate due diligence.
  6. OHSAS 18001 provides for cost reduction opportunities such as worker compensation costs, lost production, legal costs, and costs for additional manpower due to lost-time injuries. A formal incident investigation and corrective action tracking system provide better identifi cation for root cause and reduction in repeat incidents.
  7. OHSAS 18001 ensures continual improvement of the health and safety management system, policies and programs through the internal auditing process. Audits identify conformances, nonconformances and opportunities for improvement within the safety management system. Annual internal audits help not only to continually look for improvements to the system, but also prepare for any surveillance or certifi cation audits by a third party registrar.
  8. OHSAS 18001 requires management review. Top level management must review the operation of the safety management system to assess if it has been fully implemented and followed, is achieving compliance, continues to support the organization’s policy and provides for continual improvement. Having the responsibility for the system come from the top down promotes greater buy-in and acceptance by workers and supervisors.

Implementing an OHSAS 18001 management system may appear daunting, but there are many signifi cant benefi ts to an organization. By implementing this management system, an organization makes a fi rm commitment to the continual improvement of safety performance, which ultimately leads to a healthy and safe workplace.