Basics of Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems
All management systems tend to follow the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. The goal of the management system is to drive continual improvement. This is achieved by moving through the entire cycle repeatedly and identifying opportunities for improvement and implementing solutions that provide a real improvement to the safety of the workforce.
From experience, most companies tend to have the "plan" and "do" parts of the system in place to varying degrees of success. Unless you have a safety management system in place, it is unlikely that the "check" and "act" parts of the system will exist - and these are the most important parts in terms of driving improvement in health and safety within your company.
Planning include activities that define the system such as the policy documents, the most important of which is the health and policy statement. This statement sets the tone and the direction of the safety management system and sets the objectives to be met by the system.
Hazard identification is a key element of the planning process and naturally leads to risk assessment of those hazards. Identification of the legal and other requirements that the health and safety system must address are also considered in this section of the system.
The final part of planning is a management programme that is used to control and keep track of all of the improvement actions generated by the system.
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This section of the management system needs to ensure that roles and responsibilities have been clearly defined for health and safety activities and that appropriate resources are in place. This helps to ensure that everyone knows who is doing what and where their responsibilities lie.
Ensuring that employees are adequately trained and competent to perform their task is also covered in this section together with documentation. Consultation with the workforce, for example, through employee safety representatives, is important not only to the success of the management system, but to the safety culture of the company.
Documentation is inevitably going to be required. Keeping the documentation to a minimum is important to ensure that the system is useable. Emergency procedures are key to ensuring safety from adverse events such as fires in the workplace.
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Checking that the health and safety management system is functioning correctly involves:
- auditing to ensure the system conforms to the requirements
- recording information for health and safety
- reviewing incidents and non-conformities
- measuring and monitoring health and safety indicators and objectives
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Finally a management review of the entire health and safety system is undertaken. All of the information generated from audits, monitoring and measures, incidents and accidents etc. are reviewed to determine where improvements can be made to the system as a whole. These improvements are then implemented into the system, which may include altering any or all of the element of the plan-do-ckeck-act cycle.
To learn more about the acting part of the cycle CLICK HERE