Three HSE Strategies

| June 11, 2008

I attended the annual American Industrial Hygiene Association conference (AIHce) last week in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

There were many excellent sessions covering a wide range of topics important to the practice of industrial hygiene.  In particular, the Tuesday morning general session focused on demonstrating the value of the industrial hygiene profession and included a presentation by Jeffrey P. Pino, President of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.

In his presentation, Mr. Pino stated that there are three strategies important to a successful HSE (health, safety and environmental) program:

  • Leadership Commitment
  • Employee Engagement
  • Risk Management

These three strategies are also critical to the implementation of an occupational safety and health management system based on OHSAS 18001:2007.

Demonstrating Leadership Commitment

To demonstrate conformance to OHSAS 18001, top management must be directly involved in the OH&S management system.  The involvement of top management is explicitly required in section 4.2 (OH&S Policy), 4.4.1 (Resources, roles, responsibility, accountability and authority) and 4.6 (Management Review).

In particular, top management must:

  • Define and authorize the organization’s OH&S policy
  • Ensure the availability of the resources needed for the OH&S management system
  • Define roles, allocate responsibilities and accountabilities and delegate authorities to facilitate effective OH&S management
  • Ensure the OH&S management system is implemented
  • Periodically review the continuing suitability, adequacy and effectiveness of the OH&S management system

Promoting Employee Engagement

One of the major changes in the 2007 revision of OHSAS 18001 is an increased focus on worker participation and consultation with other interested parties.

Section 4.4.3.2 of OHSAS 18001 requires that the organization establish, implement and maintain procedures for worker participation in the OH&S management system, as well as consultation with contractors and other relevant external interested parties, such as regulatory agencies.

It should be noted that, in OHSAS 18001, “engagement” is not limited to just employees — it requires the inclusion of others whose safety and health may be impacted by the activities of the organization.  This expansion beyond just employees is an explicit recognition of the significant change in the relationships in today’s workplaces.  A significant amount of work — particularly dangerous work — is outsourced to contractors.  Many workers are brought in as temporary workers, not employees, and kept on as such for months or even years at a time.

Implementing Risk Management

With an increased focus on effective corporate governance has come an increased interest in corporate risk management.

Unlike ISO 14001:2004 or ISO 9001:2000, OHSAS 18001:2007 is explicitly based on risk management principles.

Risk is a defined term in OHSAS 18001.  It is defined as the “combination of the likelihood of an occurrence of a hazardous event or exposure(s) and the severity of injury or ill health that can be caused by the event or exposure(s).”

The standard also has definitions for risk assessment (the process of evaluating the risk or risks arising from a hazard, taking into account the adequacy of any existing controls, and deciding whether or not the risk is acceptable) and acceptable risk (risk that has been reduced to a level that can be tolerated by the organization having regard to its legal obligations and its own OH&S policy).

Hazard identification, risk assessment and the determination of appropriate controls, as set out in section 4.3.1 of the standard, are the foundation of an OHSAS 18001 management system.  The identification of OH&S hazards and assessment of the associated risks is the primary input for setting objectives, identifying training needs and implementing operational controls.

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2008)

Category: OHSAS 18001:2007 Revisions, OHSMS Implementation, Risk Management

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