According to an article in the November edition of Health & Safety Review, speaking at a recent ceremony at which 15 companies were presented with OHSAS 18001 certificates, Chief Executive Martin O’Halloran said that the HSA found that 80% of failures are attributable to management.

This statement by the HSA Chief Executive confirms what has long been accepted by some health and safety practitioners…that the majority of accidents arise not as a result of employees or their actions being the root cause, but because management have either not put the relevant procedures and policies in place or have not implemented or adhered to them. At Business Safety we frequently encounter situations where, in terms of health and safety, the sole focus of an employer is on having a safety statement. Whilst this is a legal requirement under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (the Act), many employers are unaware of other duties that exist both under the Act and other health and safety regulations. Simply having a safety statement does not make someone compliant with the other requirements of Irish health and safety law.
The principal aim of the Act and other health and safety regulations is to ensure employers manage health and safety. For example Section 8(1) says “Every employer shall ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of his or her employees”. Can someone justifiably claim that just by having a safety statement that they have satisfied this requirement? The answer must be “no”, just as being in possession of a driving licence does not make someone a safe driver. Section 8(2)(e) gives another clear duty of employers in relation to health and safety. It says “…the employer’s duty extends in particular to…providing systems of work that are planned, organised, performed, maintained and revised as appropriate so as to be, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risk to health”. Again, being in possession of a document will not, by itself, afford employers protection against prosecution for breaches of this duty.
OHSAS 18001 Benefits

So how can employers ensure they comply with the various requirements placed on them by the Act and all the other applicable safety legislation? One way is for employers to set up a system which:
  • ensures they are aware of their duties
  • plans for health and safety
  • helps the employer to devise and implement appropriate policies and procedures to deal with hazards
  • has provision for checking the effectiveness of the system on an ongoing basis, and
  • facilitates employers in reviewing and revising the system on an ongoing basis.

The internationally recognised safety management system which meets these points is OHSAS 18001. OHSAS 18001 is, like most other management systems, based on the principals of “Plan, Do, Check, Act” with the concept of continual improvement at its core. The system is written under the following main headings:

  1. OH&S Policy
  2. Planning
  3. Implementation & Operation
  4. Checking & Corrective Action, and
  5. Management Review

Sections 2-5 deal correspond with the Plan, Do, Check, Act concept and these can be as relatively simple and straightforward or as complex as appropriate to the organisation in which they are being implemented. The important thing here is that whether or not is that by implementing this type of safety management system, an employer can fulfil or exceed the duties placed on them. OHSAS 18001 is a certifiable standard, meaning organisations who choose to implement it can apply to have external, independent certifying bodies registered with the Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB) or equivalent body, certify their system. Although there are certain benefits to being certified to this standard, it is not mandatory and therefore any organisation may implement the requirements of the standard as a standalone, non-certified system.

The benefits of OHSAS 18001 include:

  1. Reduced accidents
  2. Fewer insurance claims
  3. Less downtime
  4. Improved staff morale
  5. Increased compliance with legal requirements

Use the form below for a free quotation for OHSAS 18001 or call Business Safety on 0818 333 212

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