OHSAS 18001 “Governing Body”

| November 24, 2009

A reader recently posted the following question –

I am dealing with an organization that claims it is certified to OHSAS 18001… Does anyone know if there is an accreditation board or other governing body which administrates OHSAS 18001 who would be responsible for auditing conformance with these practices? Or does this system rely solely on internal audits only? (click here to read the entire comment)

There is no one OHSAS 18001 governing body or accreditation board.

As a voluntary international standard, OHSAS 18001 is utilized by organizations in several different ways.

Some companies use OSHAS 18001 as a guidance document to develop their OH&S management system.  In that case, conformance is discretionary and there is no “certification” or “accreditation”.  In this case, verification of conformance relies solely upon the adequacy and effectiveness of the internal audit program.

OHSAS 18001 is also used for purposes of third-party certification. 

Many of the registrars who provide ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certification also offer OHSAS 18001 certification to their customers.  Because of how OHSAS 18001 was developed (independent of ISO), there are two types of certification being offered by registrars – accredited and unaccredited.   The majority of OHSAS 18001 certifications are unaccredited.

In order to determine the type of certification an organization has, you will need to carefully review the actual certificate.  This can be easier said than done.  Since there is no public access to registration certificates, or any master database of OHSAS 18001 certified companies, you have to get a copy of the certificate from the company that is claiming to be OHSAS 18001 certified.  It is often posted on the wall somewhere.

You would also want to confirm the validity of this certification with the registrar identified on the certificate.  There have been problems with “sham” or fake certificates.  The certificate should also indicate whether or not it is an “accredited” certification and the scope of the certification (what it covers).  In some cases, the actual scope of the certification is narrower than the public relations representations made by the company (certain operations, locations or workers are excluded).

For either accredited or unaccredited certification, the registrar who issued the certificate to the company does periodic audits to determine whether or not the organization has a management system in place that conforms to OSHAS 18001.  Typically, these audits are done either once or twice a year. 

If it is an accredited certification, the registrar’s overall certification program is also periodically reviewed by an independent accreditation body.  This review would not include an in-depth review of each of the certificates issued by the registrar.  The focus of accreditation is primarily on the processes used – not the results achieved.

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2009)

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Category: Standards & Certification

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