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Cashins & Associates Blog

EHS Management Systems: OHSAS 18001 and ISO 14001

Posted by Eileen Watkins on Tue, Jun, 24, 2014 @ 14:06 PM

ISO_14001Businesses today face many challenges - how do you hold on to your market share or attract new customers or clients?  How can your company distinguish itself from the competition?  If your company has successful safety metrics and a commitment to protecting the environment, then you should consider using them as a selling point.  You can take it one step further by implementing health, safety and environmental management systems.  

What is a management system, anyway?  ISO defines it as a "set of procedures an organization needs to follow in order to meet its objectives."  Management systems comprehensively address your topic of concern - in this case, either employee health and safety or the environment.  They are the sum total of the processes and procedures which help you operate safely and/or protect the environment.

9001:2008*, otherwise known as the Quality Management System, is perhaps the most commonly implemented management system.  Companies who conform to this standard  demonstrate a focus on the customer and a commitment to continually improving the quality of their product or service.  Many companies require that their suppliers, vendors, and contractors be certified in ISO 9001.   

* The numbers following the colon designate the year of the most current revision.  Hence ISO 9001:2008 was last revised in 2008.  We will include the revision year once and then omit it for brevity's sake.

OHSAS 18001:2007 (health and safety) and ISO 14001:2004 (environmental) identify the management system standards for the health, safety, and environmental disciplines.  When implemented, they highlight your company's disciplined, systematic approach to work and demonstrate your commitment to protecting your workers and the environment.  The standards have different origins.  OHSAS is a British Standard that you'll sometimes see expressed as BS OHSAS 18001.  ISO 14001 was developed by the International Standard Organization. 

OHSAS 1800 and ISO 14001 align with each other and with ISO 9001.  This helps streamline the implementation of more than 1 of these management systems.  It also allows you to implement 1 of the systems, and then add additional systems with relative ease when you are ready to do so. 

The following elements and themes are common to OHSAS 18001 and ISO 14001:

Policy and objectives:  create a policy and specific objectives that help you improve your safety and environmental performance.

Controls:  what controls are in place to minimize the risk of safety and environmental incidents?  How do you monitor and/or measure your operations to verify that the controls are working?

Corrective and preventative action:  if near-misses or incidents occur, what process do you follow to ensure that corrective and preventative actions are identified and implemented?

Documentation:  are the key elements in your management system written down?  Are they reviewed, approved, and updated when necessary? 

Continual improvement:  is your company committed to continual improvement in the health, safety, and environmental arenas?  What are you doing to continually improve your performance? 

While it may seem daunting and complicated, conforming with OHSAS 18001 and/or ISO 14001 doesn't have to be.  Get a copy of the standard and learn the management system "language".  Both standards use terms that aren't always part of our vernacular.  Take an inventory of your existing health and safety or environmental programs.  Do you already have policies, processes, procedures, and documents that conform to the expectations of the standard?  If you don't, formulate a plan that will modify what you have or put the key elements in place.  

You'll feel more organized and in control as soon as you begin to implement the elements of your management system.  Are you ready to get started?  Cashins & Associates can help you develop your OSHAS 18801 or ISO 14001 management system.  Click on the link below to submit your inquiry.  We look forward to hearing from you!  

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