In a previous blog, I discussed the new High Level Structure and identical text requirements that has been proposed for all ISO management system standards. One of the proposed changes is to eliminate the document control and record control elements and replace them with a new provision requiring control of “documented information”. Documented information is somewhat vaguely defined in this new scheme as “the information required to be controlled and maintained by an organization”.
Although this may be seen as progressive by those who developed this new management system structure, it is likely to create confusion on the part of users of the standards who are not information management experts.
There are important reasons for distinguishing between the documents that need to be controlled in a management system and record retention requirements. Even though both document control and record control are control of documented information, their purpose and use is very different.
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.
What do the National Mall, my homeowner’s association and your OH&S management system have in common?
The need to pay for preventive maintenance.
When we moved to Florida, we purposely choose to live in a neighborhood that did NOT have a golf course, community center or jointly owned “common areas.” Instead, we choose a neighborhood that had a voluntary homeowners association – not a mandatory one. A couple of years ago, a few neighbors wanted to “beautify” the neighborhood by putting up signs and installing landscaping. They did so. Then, because the plantings they put in were dying and you could not see the new signs at night, they wanted to add irrigation and lighting. They did so. Needless to say, once they realized that these things were costing money, there was an attempt to impose mandatory fees to pay for the on-going expense. It didn’t happen. These neighbors became upset when the rest of the neighborhood was not interested in paying for their neighborhood beautification efforts.
According to last Friday’s paper, the National Mall is slipping into a state of neglect. Apparently, ducks died last year of avian botulism because the water in a mall pool was so foul, the Jefferson Memorial is sinking into the mud and the soil is so compacted in places that grass can’t grow. Yet, Congress has refused to provide funding to pay for the necessary upkeep.
What do these stories have in common?
The failure to recognize that – “If you build it, you’ve got to maintain it.”
This is an important warning to keep in mind as you develop your OH&S management system.
Whatever systems you put in place must be maintained –
- Documents need to be reviewed and revised
- Software needs to be maintained and updated
- Controls need to be inspected and maintained
All of this costs money.
Make sure you consider the long-term preventive maintenance costs before you put systems, software and controls in place. If you can’t maintain them, you may only make things worse.
© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2009)