Out with the Old – In with the New

| January 15, 2010

The start of the New Year is good time to pause, reflect and clean out.

Many organizations use the start of the year as a time to review their OH&S management system objectives and set new ones.  If their OH&S programs are lagging in their implementation, new approaches or new assignments are considered. 

This is also a good time to address all that PAPER – either physical paper or electronic paper.  This includes all those completed hazard evaluation forms, inspection checklists, excel spreadsheets, meeting notices and minutes, e-mails with various interested parties, incident investigations, corrective action reports,….

When I help develop record control processes and procedures for an organization, one of the concepts I try to incorporate is the inclusion of record schedules with record breaks and scheduled clean-out days. 

A record schedule is a document that defines how a record is to be kept, how long it needs to be maintained in an active storage location and when it should be destroyed.  U.S. EPA has an informative discussion of the purpose and use of record schedules on its web site. 

The first key to using a record schedule is organizing your records in a way that makes complying with your record retention requirements as easy as possible.  This usually means using record breaks – usually defined points in time when you start a new file. For example, rather than filing all of your records pertaining to a particular topic randomly in one file folder (physical or electronic), you file them by year so you can move an entire year’s worth of records to a different location (off-site storage or electronic archive) at one time. 

The second key to using a record schedule is actually setting aside a time for moving old records out of active storage locations and getting rid of unnecessary records in accordance with your organization’s record retention policies. 

Although this often appears to be an unimportant mundane task to “put off to another day” it is important to the smooth functioning of your OHSMS. 

So, schedule your record clean-out day today.  By the way, wear comfortable clothes and order a pizza.  It will make the job easier.

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2009)

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Category: OHSMS Implementation, Resources & Tools

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