The OHSMS is a management system that enables an organization to control the impact of their activities, products and services in occupational health and safety. There is a concern among industrial organizations among the enlightened industrial organisations about the imbalance between technological demand and human characteristics leads to low technical utilisation, costly maintenance and frequent human failures. The voluntary industry initiatives are subscribing to occupational health and environmental management. The potentials of work-related fatalities, injuries, and illness, to increase productivity by reducing the direct and indirect costs associated with accidents, and to increase the quality of manufactured products and/or rendered services.
Emphasis on Occupational Health and Safety
In the changed global scenario of industrial development, which fosters a drive for competitiveness based on improved quality in all functions of an organisation, concerns on occupational safety, health and environment have received special significance. The international agencies (e.g. ILO, WHO, ISO, UNDP) have renewed their thrust for suitable global framework to implement cost-effective occupational health and safety delivery systems, management methods and programmes to prevent workplace ailments and promote the health and welfare of workers. Primarily, effective management of worker safety and health protection is a decisive factor which reduces work-related injuries and illness. An ideal OHS management system should provide a structured process to minimise work-related injuries and illness, and reduce the direct and indirect costs associated with accidents. Also, it must provide a direction to OHS activities, with reference to organisational policies, regulatory requirements, recommended guidelines, industry practices and standards, including negotiated labour agreements. Therefore, conforming to a management system may be of significant value for the small and medium-sized organisations that traditionally receive little regulatory guidance.
OSHA management guidelines
The employers have been advised and encouraged to institute and maintain a programme that provides systematic policies, procedures, and practices to protect employees from, and to allow them to recognise work related health and safety hazards. An effective programme includes provisions for identification, evaluation, and control of general workplace hazards, specific job hazards, and potential hazards. The major elements of the guidelines are summarised below :
- Management commitment and employee involvement.
- Worksite analysis.
- Hazard prevention and control.
- Safety and health training.
Management commitment and employee involvement
Managements commitment provides the motivating force and the resources for organising and controlling activities within an organisation. The management must regard worker safety and health as a fundamental value of the organisation and applies its commitment to health and safety protection with as much vigor to other organisational goals. Employee involvement provides the means by which workers express their commitment to health and safety for them and their fellow workers. Some recommended actions are :
- Clearly state a worksite policy on safe and healthful work and work conditions, so that all personnel fully understand the priority and importance of safety and health protection in the organisation.
- Establish and communicate a clear goal for safety and health programme and define objective for meeting that goal, to make the members of the organisation understand the results desired and measures planned for achieving them.
- Provide top management involvement in implementing the programme.
- Arrange for and encourage employee involvement in the structure and operation of the programme, so that they will commit their insight and energy to achieving the safety and health programmes goal and objectives.
- Assign and communicate responsibility for all aspects of the programme so that managers, supervisors, and employees know the standard of performance expected from them.
- Provide adequate authority and resources to a responsible group to meet the assigned responsibilities. Hold managers, supervisors, and employees accountable for meeting their responsibilities.
- Review the programme at least annually, to evaluate progress in meeting the goals and objectives so that deficiencies can be identified and the programme and / or the objectives can be revised, as necessary.
An analysis of the work environment involves a variety of worksite examinations to identify existing hazards and conditions and operations in which changes might occur to create new hazards. The following measures are recommended to identify existing and potential hazards :
- Conduct a comprehensive baseline worksite survey and periodic update surveys.
- Analyse planned and new facilities, processes, materials and equipment.
- Perform routine job hazard analysis.
- Assess risk factors of ergonomics applications to workers tasks.
- Conduct regular site safety and health inspections, to identify hazards and failures in hazard controls.
- Provide a reliable system for employees to notify management personnel about conditions that appear hazardous and encourage employees to use the system without the fear of reprisal. OSHA suggests displaying posters at the work site and encouraging employees to understand health and safety issues.
- Investigate accidents and near miss incidents. Analyse injury and illness trends over time, to identify and prevent common causes.
Hazard prevention and control
Elimination or control of workplace hazards must be accomplished in a timely manner once a hazard or potential hazard is recognised. As a part of the programme, employees should establish procedures to correct or control the present or potential hazards in a timely manner. The procedures should include measures such as the following :
- Use engineering techniques where feasible and appropriate.
- Establish safe work practices and procedures that are understood and followed by all affected parties.
- Provide personal protective equipment when engineering controls are not feasible.
- Use administrative controls, such as reducing the duration of exposure.
- Maintain the facility and equipment to prevent equipment breakdowns.
- Plan and prepare for emergencies, and conduct training and emergency drills, as needed.
- Establish a medical programme that includes first aid onsite as well as a nearby physician and emergency medical care to reduce the risk of injury or illness that occur. Safety and health training
- Training helps identify the safety and health responsibilities of both management and employees at the site. Training is often most effective when incorporated into other educationalor performance requirements and job practices.
- Employee training - Employee training programmes should be designed to ensure that all employees are aware of the hazards to which they may be exposed and the proper methods for avoiding such hazards.
- Supervisory training - Supervisors should be trained to understand the key role they play in job site safety and to enable them to carry out their responsibilities effectively. Training programmes for supervisors should include :
a) Analysis of the work under their supervision to anticipate and identify potential hazards.
b) Maintenance of physical protection in their work areas.
c) Reinforcement of employee training on the potential hazards of work and protective measures through continual performance feedback and, if necessary, through enforcement of safe work practices.
d) Understanding their safety and health responsibilities.
Apart from the OSHA guidelines released a few years prior to the BS standard designated as BS 8800:1996, this is perhaps the first formalised OHSMS that provides a template from which the development of an international OHSMS may be started. If history is any indication, BS 8800:1996 may affect the international OHSMS standard development process in the same way that British Standards had an influence on final outcome of the ISO 9000 series and ISO 14000 series standards (Redinger, 1996)
A clause-by-clause analysis of BS 8800:1996 and the AIHA (American Industrial Hygiene Association) OHSMS document will find a considerable similarity of the system element. However, one may comprehend the difference of interest in BS 8800:1996 is in the clause 4.4.2 - Corrective Action.