The Forgotten R

| February 7, 2012

It is common for the clauses of the management system standards – including OHSAS 18001 – to be known by “shorthand” names.

Clause 4.4.5 of OHSAS 18001 is known as “document control”; clause 4.5.2 is known as “CAPA” (corrective action and preventive action).

Similarly, clause 4.4.1 is often referred to as roles & responsibilities or “R2A2” – roles, responsibilities, authorities, and accountabilities.

What is left out?  The first R – RESOURCES.

OHSAS 18001 requires that the organization [a.k.a. “top management”] “ensure the availability of resources essential to establish, implement, maintain and improve the OH&S management system.”  These resources include human resources and specialized skills, organizational infrastructure, technology and financial resources.

Although there is a great deal of focus these days on reducing cost, the truth is management systems cost money.   An organization can strive to achieve the best value for the money spent; however, spending money is not optional.

One of the mistakes I often see organizations make is attempting to implement an OHSMS “on the cheap” – often by piling additional work onto already overworked staff and by attempting to “repurpose” existing infrastructure, such as data management software.    Although I am all about being cost effective, there is more to an OHSMS then creating documentation using a global search on someone else’s procedures to replace your organization’s name for theirs.  Similarly, the human resources needs of an occupational health and safety management system include individuals with a certain level of competence, specialized skills, and AVAILABLE TIME.  Attempting to save money by using jerry-rigged databases often causes user frustration and results in incomplete and/or meaningless data being collected for analysis.

Nor is an OHSMS a one time purchase. The resource needs of an OHSMS continue and change over time.

As OHSAS 18002 points out (in section 4.4.1) – “Resources and their allocation should be reviewed periodically, via management review, to ensure they are sufficient to carry out OH&S programmes and activities ….the adequacy of resources can be at least partially evaluated by comparing the planned achievement of OH&S objectives with actual results.”

Have you evaluated your OHSMS resource needs?

© ENLAR Compliance Services, Inc. (2012)


Category: OHSMS Documentation, OHSMS Implementation

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