Sep 13, 2017

Starting a project to implement OHSAS 18001

When using the requirements of OHSAS 18001 to implement an OH&SMS, you need to make sure you take all the steps required to ensure that you implement the system correctly from the start. This will help you save time and money that could be used better in implementing any improvements to your management system later on. Controlling the challenges listed below will help you keep momentum towards the objective of implementing OHSAS 18001 and keep the project on time and within budget.

1) Knowing where to begin

A gap analysis is a good way to start so you can see exactly what is in place, compared to what the OHSAS 18001 standard requires. This will clearly show you what is already in place, and what is needed to complete the project. You don’t need any surprises in the middle of the project and then realize that you overlooked something big.

The steps to implement an OH&SMS will be different for each company, meaning there is not necessarily a specific starting point. You have to make your system company specific by addressing both the health and safety activities, as well as the processes unique to the company, or the system won’t be successful in the long term. The OHSAS 18001 requirements is a good place to start, but the standard does not specify how you do this – that’s up to you.

2) Convince management to support you

If you do manage to implement an OHSAS 18001 based system without your management supporting you, it becomes difficult, if not impossible to maintain a system afterwards without their support.  Convincing top management that the project is worthwhile as early as possible, preferable before the project even starts, will be of tremendous value.

3) Start with the basics

The foundation of a OH&SMS is underpinned by four elements. If these are implemented first, it will build a solid foundation from which you can then implement other processes:

  1. Policy: The policy is used by top management to outline the general direction the company want to take in order to meet the OH&S requirements within the company’s processes.
  2. Legal requirements: Before you can comply with legislation, you first have to recognize and understand all legal requirements which might be applicable to your company. Only once you know this will you be able to implement the management system that will support this.
  3. Hazards: What could potentially be issues in your company’s processes that might cause health and safety problems? Understanding these is the basis on which the OH&SMS processes can be built.
  4. Objectives, programs and targets: A key element of any management system is improvement. To do this, you need to set objectives, programs and targets so that you have a way of measuring your improvement.

Without planning properly, there can never be any improvement. While the above lists the documents that should be created first, there are more.

4) Identify an OH&S representative

If you identify a top manager who will be responsible for the occupational health & safety Management System, you will have created a channel which top management can use to stay informed about what is happening in the system. This will make it easy for top management to assign the resources needed to make sure that the required improvements are done. If you choose the right person for the job, it can also improve management support and assist you in driving improvement.

5) Determine what to learn

If this is your first time implementing an OH&SMS, you have to figure out how you can determine what you need to learn. Here are three ways in which you can do this:

  1. Using the company’s employees: You will have to find ways in which you can train both your team and yourself in various areas, including how to go about documenting your hazards and risks, and how to write procedures. In the beginning, it can be very difficult to ensure you don’t miss anything, but in the long run all the knowledge to maintain your system will be contained within your organization.
  2. Use a consultant: Although this is an option, and there are many consultants available to do this, this option is the most expensive. If you aren’t careful, the consultant could at some stage leave with all of the information required to maintain your system.
  3. Using the company’s employees with outside help: You can make the job easier by using outside resources. This could involve using templates and online tools to help, or consultancy services. At the end, you still get to keep the knowledge within your organization.

With this foundation, you will have a better chance to succeed

If you plan these five steps properly, it will be easier for you to identify any potential problems in the implementation before they are too big and challenging to fix. By identifying any problem early, you can deal with it quickly and prevent a delay in implementation. Plan properly, and your implementation will run as smoothly as possible.

ISO 9001 quality management systems (QMS) are implemented using MyEasyISO software in Havana (Cuba), while ISO 14001 & OHSAS 18001 Health Safety Management Systems (HSE) are implemented with MyEasyISO in Madrid (Spain).

Sree Vidhya

CRM Specialist At Effivity
Sree has over 7+ years of experience. She excels in building strong client relationships and ensuring customer satisfaction. Sree's expertise and dedication help drive Effivity's commitment to exceptional customer service.

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