Creating OHSMS Documentation

| September 30, 2009

A reader recently asked –

Why is that OH&S management system manuals so often repeat the language of the OHSAS 18001 standard – isn’t that redundant?

Yes and No.

During management system implementation, the constant repetition of the OHSAS 18001 language feels redundant.  You are referring to OHSAS 18001 constantly – in drafting procedures, discussing processes, creating forms and developing training programs.  You probably feel – “enough already with the arcane standards speak.”  Since you are so close to the initial drafting of the manual and other procedures, it is clear in your mind what the OHSAS 18001 requirements are and how you are planning to meet them.

As with most things, memories and associations fade with time. 

One of my favorite Christmas stories is that each year when we got together with my mother and my husband’s parents for Christmas, my Mother would start a question with “What year was it when we ….”  A lively discussion would ensue as we tried to remember exactly what year it was that we did some particular activity – “Was it 1997 or was it 2000?”  My mother has since passed away but we still discuss “What year was it when we …” at Christmas – and I am reminded of her presence.

A similar thing happens with your management system manuals and procedures.  Over time, people will forget both WHAT they need to do and WHY if you don’t actually include the requirements in your Manual.  The “shall clauses” in the OHSAS 18001 standard are unlikely to be remembered and may not actually be met if you don’t explicitly include them in your own OHSMS documentation.

One of the tests of the completeness of a management system manual is whether you can file the standard away (never refer to it again), and still have a management system that continues to be in conformance with the requirements of OHSAS 18001. 

In fact, the hallmark of a good internal audit program is that audits are performed against the organization’s own OHSMS documentation – its manual and procedures – NOT against the OHSAS 18001 standard.  Conformance with the OHSMS manual IS conformance with OHSAS 18001.

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2009)

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Category: OHSMS Documentation, OHSMS Implementation

Comments (1)

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  1. Alae says:

    Mr / Mrs

    could you send to me any method to identify the procedures, wi, form…………….
    documentation code ( numbering )

    Thanks in advance