The integration of OHS management into the general management systems of businesses

by Feb 14, 2019Confined spaces, Electrical Safety, Hazardous materials, Hot Work, Material handling safety management

The integration of OHS management into the general management systems of businesses

In theory, any organization can be classified into one of the two following categories:

  • Businesses that choose to handle OHS questions on a case-by-case or day-to-day basis.
  • Businesses that prefer to handle the health and safety of their human capital in a more proactive manner.

As explained in a previously published blog, businesses belonging to the first category perceive the efforts and resources allotted to OHS management as being losses or investments for which the return cannot be quantified. This fact is reflected in the position of the entity charged with OHS management, generally isolated, purely administrative with a lot of communication difficulties with other processes and/or business entities, and often with other attributions (because OHS management alone is considered to be a loss of resources that can be recuperated by assigning other tasks to the entity).

In these conditions, it would be very hard to discuss the integration of OHS management systems into the business’s general management structure for the simple reason that no OHS management systems exists.

In the case of businesses of the second category, the OHS management systems are not only integrated as parts of the business’s general management structure but are first and foremost established as a culture that contributes to improving the business’s performances.

An OHSMS is an integrated set of organizational elements involved in the continuous cycles of planning, implementation, evaluation and continuous improvements, aiming to reduce occupational workplace risks. The elements include, but are not limited to, policies, goals and objectives, decision making structures and practices, technical resources, accountability and empowerment structures and practices, communication practices, hazard identification practices, training practices, risk control, organization’s quality assurance, evaluation practices and organizational learning practices.

The purpose of an OHS management system is to provide framework for the management of risks and detection of OHS opportunities. The objective and expected results from the OHS management system is the prevention of occupational traumas and pathologies in workers and to provide them with safe and secure workplaces. This is why it is absolutely essential that organizations remove dangers at their source and minimize OHS risks by adopting effective preventive and protective measures.

When these measures are applied by the organization in the context of its OHS management system, they allow improvement not only of its OHS performance, but they also improve the performance of the other aspects that reflect the business’s productivity.

An OHS management system can turn out to be more effective and efficient when measures are taken the most upstream possible in order to seize OHS performance improvement opportunities.

To ensure the proactivity and resilience of an OHS management system, a continuous improvement approach based off a PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act) must be adopted.

Planning, being the first phase, determines and ensures the achievement of objectives at an optimal level of control with great certainty. To this end, the organization must begin by determining what will be carried out, long term, medium term, short term and very short term while allotting the necessary resources, assigning responsibilities and determining a time frame for each action.

In this phase, it is also necessary that result evaluation methods be defined, which will allow for a clear orientation towards results and allow adjustment possibilities further down the road in the process.

For OHS improvements to be best perceived, the inflow of OHS performance improvements regarding business processes or all other processes considered (important) be clear and direct. Therefore, during planning, the actions that allow achievement of OHS objectives must be integrate and contribute to improving business processes in the business.

Once planning is mastered, the smooth functioning of the PCDA cycle phases will be ensured at a high level of certainty. More upcoming blogs will be dedicated to discussing the next phases.

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Intervention Prévention Inc.

Intervention Prévention concentrates its operations in the field of work safety, offering specialized services following Standards CSA Z462 – Workplace Electrical Safety, CSA Z460 – Control of Hazardous Energy: Lock-out and Other Methods, and CSA Z432 – Safeguarding of Machinery.


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