EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HEALTH & SAFETY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

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Over the past 25 years, factors such as the globalization of world economies, increased public concern over health and safety issues, increased regulatory complexity, and the general acceptance of ISO 9000 as an operating norm for quality management systems have had a profound effect on the field of both corporate environmental and corporate health and safety management. There has been a gradual evolution from a regulation-based, compliance-driven regime to a stewardship process that aspires to ever-increasing voluntary protection practices. While this process is essentially “complete” for environmental and quality systems (e.g., the ISO 9001 and 14001 standards have become generally accepted throughout the world), the process for health and safety is not fully resolved. Although, as discussed below, there have been many attempts to develop standards for health and safety that would be universally accepted, none of them has ever reached the same level of recognition of either of the two ISO standards mentioned above. eCompliance now includes the two most universally accepted occupational health and safety (OHS) management systems in the United States, OHSAS 18001 and the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). What is an occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS)? Simply stated, an OHSMS is an organized and formal approach to managing health and safety issues within an organization. An OHSMS can be thought of as a specialized form of management system that targets health and safety issues. The idea is simple: an organization should manage its health and safety issues in the same way as it manages its core business, by: • setting health and safety policy; • plann... ... middle of paper ... ... industry averages. In general, however, the emphasis is on achieving conformance to system requirements — improved performance is expected to follow once conformance is achieved. The level of increased public concern surrounding the health and safety industry and the acceptance of specific ISO standards has profoundly affected the corporate field of environmental health and safety management. With the introduction of two of the most universally accepted OHS management systems, OHSAS 18001 and VPP, organizations should proactively be working toward enhancing their existing practices and processes to reflect those of a “safety driven” management culture. The adoption of OHSMS simply provides organizations with a solid framework to facilitate every aspect of maintaining a safety community, while enabling them to pave the path for long-term organizational success.

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