“It’s The System, Stupid.”

| October 8, 2008

What does the current meltdown of the global financial markets teach us?

To paraphrase a line from the last presidential election – “It’s the System, Stupid.”

Right now, there is a lot of finger-pointing and plenty of blame to spread around.  This mess is not, however, the fault of a single individual, a single institution or, even, a single political party.  Instead, it is the system that is flawed. 

A great deal of our current financial system has been created by the successive imposition of “free-market” reforms. The underlying premise has been that if one removes market controls – privatize public services, cut business regulation, reduce social spending, remove trade barriers and allow businesses more freedom to exploit resources – the resulting capitalist transformation will make all of our lives better.  Unfortunately, this has, instead, been a recipe for disaster.

Just like a financial system, an occupational safety and health management system cannot function without controls.  You cannot simply rely on people “doing the right thing” when it comes to safety – even if they are the ones who may be injured or killed.  They ignore risks, take short-cuts and assume “it won’t happen to them.”  Therefore, occupational safety and health professionals spend their time guarding equipment and installing interlocks, enforcing the use of safe work practices and personal protective equipment, establishing permissible exposure limits and monitoring worker exposure. 

That is why OHSAS 18001:2007 has placed an increased emphasis on controls.  First, section 4.3.2, requires that appropriate controls be identified – taking into account the hierarchy of controls.  Then, section 4.4.6 requires that the identified controls be implemented.  Finally, section 4.5.1 requires monitoring of “the effectiveness of controls.”

To avoid disaster, appropriate controls must be put in place, and more importantly, they must be used and monitoring to ensure they are effective.

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2008)

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Category: OHSAS 18001:2007 Revisions, OHSMS Implementation

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