Traditional Safety Programs vs. OH&S Management Systems

| November 27, 2007

Many organizations are moving away from the traditional approach of handling occupational safety and health issues through a number of separate safety programs.  Instead, they are pushing their OH&S professionals to develop and implement an OH&S management system that is integrated with the other management systems in use within the organization.

How is this approach different?

In the traditional safety program, there are often separate programs for hazard communication, personal protective equipment, equipment lockout/tagout, fire safety, etc.  Each of these written programs sets out its own unique requirements — for training, recordkeeping, inspection, etc.   Often, these programs are heavily based on restating the requirements set out in applicable OH&S regulations.  This can result in a duplication of effort and lack of coordination with other organizational processes (e.g. different training programs, different emergency plans, different recordkeeping approaches, lack of document control, etc.).  This approach also promotes the development an occupational health and safety “silo” separate from other business functions.  In many cases, safety and health is viewed as being solely the responsibility of the OH&S professionals.

In a management system approach, the emphasis is on developing interrelated processes for managing occupational health and safety hazards and risks throughout all levels and functions of the organization.  Everyone is held accountable for all of their individual management system responsibilities — including those related to OH&S.  The emphasis is on developing integrated processes for handling common tasks such as managing training, document and record control and tracking corrective and preventive actions.  Safety and health becomes part of everyone’s job.

This management system approach is new for many OH&S professionals.

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2008)

Category: OHSMS Implementation

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