OHSAS 18001 Definition

An Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Management System provides a framework for an organisation to identify and control its health and safety risks, reduce the potential for accidents, comply with legislation and improve operational performance.

OHSAS 18001 is the requirement standard for an OH&S Management Systems which was recently updated and adopted as OHSAS 18001:2007. The update reflects the learnings achieved from widespread use of the standard across the world and provides more emphasis on “Health” rather than just “Safety”.

The specification has been designed to be compatible with the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 management system standards.

OHSAS 18001 requires an organisation to formally document the areas that are covered by their OH&S policy and to keep evidence that it is operating according to the requirements of the standard. It is relevant to any organisation that wants to conform to legislation and demonstrate to staff and stakeholders that it has systems in place to minimise and eliminate risks.

In order to implement the standard the following steps should be followed:

  • Write an OH&S policy: The policy must be authorised by top management, be appropriate to the organisation and identify health and safety risks. It must also be communicated to all stakeholders, commit to a process of continual improvement and be regularly reviewed.
  • Create a system for risk management: A procedure must be established to identify health and safety risks, assess their likelihood and impact and implement controls to minimise the effects. This procedure should help in identifying training needs and operational controls.
  • Identify relevant legislation and requirements: A formal method is applied to identify all applicable health and safety legislation and requirements.
  • Set Objectives: Objectives can be set, once the risks and legal requirements have been identified, to reduce or eliminate risks and to comply with the relevant legislation and requirements.
  • Develop and implement systems to achieve the objectives: Systems should be developed and implemented to achieve the objectives. These should identify responsibility and authority and how and when the objectives should be achieved. The systems should be regularly reviewed and modified when required.
  • Monitor and measure: The performance of the OH&S Management System must be monitored and measured on a regular basis to ensure it continues to meet the organisation’s objectives. This should include a program of audits, analysis of events, non-conformances and preventative actions and of progress versus the objectives

What are the benefits of OHSAS 18001?

It ensures that an organisation has the measures and controls to manage the risks associated with their activities. It will also demonstrate its commitment to stakeholders, improve operational performance through better accident management and reduced downtime with a corresponding reduction in insurance premiums and penalties for breach of legislation.

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