Naturally, there are a number of requirements that a company needs to meet in order to meet the OHSAS 18001 health and safety standard. To become OHSAS-certified by an external certifying body, businesses must undergo a health and safety audit.
Our Business does not Need OHSAS 18001 – It is Already Health And Safety Compliant
Unfortunately, this is a misconception. Whilst it is good that you already have in place certain safety management controls, OHSAS 18001 works differently, requiring you to instigate certain core processes (such as document management, training your employees and record keeping). This means you will still need to apply for certification if you want your business to stand out from the crowd.
The core requirement for passing the audit is the implementation of a health and safety management system within the business. Although there’s a lot of room for leeway, and the specifics of the systems will be highly dependent on the business, an effective health and safety management system should have a couple of core elements.
Firstly, there needs to be a significant effort spent on planning. Organisations need to have clear plans laid out for identifying hazards, assessing risks, and then controlling them. OHSAS 18001 also requires that organisations set out detailed health and safety objectives that are well-documented.
There are also important criteria for actually putting those plans into practice. Businesses need to lay out responsibilities for Health and Safety; everybody needs to be clear on exactly who is responsible for what. There also needs to be clear evidence that senior management take full responsibility for the health and safety systems present throughout the whole organisation. Training and employee competence are also key requirements. Whenever personnel undertake tasks relevant to health and safety, OHSAS 18001 requires them to be qualified and capable, and there needs to be proof of this in the business.
Checking and Monitoring
It’s not enough to simply plan and then create a system – for health and safety to really function properly, there needs to be routine processes in place for checking that requirements are being met. And in fact, OHSAS 18001 has specific criteria for the kinds of checks that are acceptable. It also requires that organisations have a process for investigating any incidents that occur, identifying improvements that need to be made to reduce the risks of a repeat event in future.
The OHSAS 18001 Certification requirements may seem fairly rigorous, as you’d expect from the foremost health and safety standard. However, once they’re implemented and the business has received certification, things tend to tick over nicely and the required ongoing improvements to health and safety are often their own reward.