What Does OHSAS 18001 Stand For?
The first thing you need to know is that it’s part of a family of standards, including, but limited to:
There are other standards from which OHSAS 18001 derives its framework, the most important of which is ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. Although not initially designed to be compatible with these standards, OHSAS 18001 proved popular enough that business owners needed the framework to be modified. The OHSAS 18001 specification is therefore extremely flexible and versatile.
OHSAS 18001 is a British health and safety standard that can be implemented by all kinds of businesses large and small. The acronym OHSAS stands for the “Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Scheme”.
It specifically governs the health and safety management systems within organisations that are key to sustaining high levels of occupational health and preventing workplace accidents, incidents and injuries. It’s also intended to foster positive cultural shifts towards concerns for health and safety within the organisations that implement it.
Flexibility and General Applicability
OHSAS 18001 is a flexible standard that can be adapted to a variety of different organisations. It’s intended to serve as a general set of health and safety principles that can be applied regardless of the specifics of the business in question. The standard is designed to integrate well with other management systems that the business may have in place. In fact, it’s been intentionally designed with a view to aligning well with the ISO 9001 and 14001 standards, which govern quality and environmental management. It’s also designed to completely cover all legal health and safety obligations that UK businesses are subject to.
OHSAS 18001 in Britain
In the UK, certification is offered by a number of independent parties. Understandably, self-certification is not an option with OHSAS 18001. It is possible for companies to understand and internalise the OHSAS standards and then implement them within their own business – although this can be a challenging and time-consuming undertaking without professional assistance.
Companies that have achieved the OHSAS standard are open to inspection at any time, and they’re expected to uphold the standard and continuously monitor and improve health and safety systems within the organisation.
What Sort of Businesses Use OHSAS 18001?
Every business wants to ensure its workplace is as safe as possible. OHSAS 18001 certification helps such companies or organisations to put in place systems that will prevent accidents from happening. As with ISO, OHSAS is not an certification body, so you will need to find an external verifier to conduct the assessment when you are ready. Not only will the award ensure you meet your health and safety obligations, it’ll demonstrate to your customers – internal and external – that you take your commitments seriously.
It is all about Standardisation.
The aim of any framework – whether its OHSAS or ISO – is to help businesses:
1. Remain competitive by ensuring they have the right systems and processes in place
2. Ensure they don’t take unnecessary risks and minimise costs
3. Optimise their communication
4. Streamline their operations
Although OHSAS 18001 is primarily a British Standard, it’s well-recognised worldwide and it forms the basis for many national health and safety standards in other countries.