OHSAS 18001 standard, a path to ensure safety of organisations
The safety and health of employees are important as it motivates them
to stay on with the organisation without leaving room for high employee
turnover. This important need was identified and many countries started
to develop country specific occupational health and safety standards
taking into consideration national guidelines.
However, the uses of such standards were limited to those countries
and many countries considered having an internationally recognised
standard on occupational health and safety.
Moreover, there are ILO guidelines but these cannot be used for
However, the International Organisation For Standardisation has not
yet considered developing an ISO standard for occupational health and
British Standards Institution
Dr Lalith Senaweera
In the early 1990s the British Standards Institution with the
concerted effort of several national standard bureaus, certification
bodies and specialist consultancies introduced the Management System
standard - OHSAS 18001.
This Management System standard has been recognised as an emerging
international occupational health and safety management system
specification developed to help organisations control health and safety
risks and improve performance.
The OHSAS 18001 Specification was updated in 2007 for better
alignment and compatibility with the ISO 14001 (Environmental) and ISO
9000 (Quality) standards.
After the introduction of OHSAS 18001 standard, many countries
adopted OHSAS 18001 as their national standard and the Sri Lanka
Standards Institution too has adopted this standard as a national
standard - SLS OHSAS 18001.
Many organisations are adopting these standards due to its benefits.
The OHSAS 18001 series comprises of two parts, OHSAS 18001:2007 -
Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems - Requirements and
OHSAS 18002: 2008 - Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems -
Guidelines for the implementation of OHSAS 18001.
Of the two standards, OHSAS 18001:2007 can be used for certification
purposes. The OHSAS 18002 can be used to interpret the requirements, in
case of doubt. The standard has been developed in line with the world
famous Deming cycle of plan-do-check-act and that means the standard can
be easily integrated with the other Management Systems such as ISO 9001
Quality Management System, ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems
and ISO 22000 Food Safety Management System standards.
* Plan the setting up of your organisation's Occupational Health and
Safety Management System. * Implement the developed Occupational Health
and Safety Management System in your workplace. * Ensure the proper
functioning of the system by monitoring, measuring, evaluating and
reporting the performance of your organisation's occupational, health
and safety management system. * Continually update and improve your
organisation's occupational health and safety management system.
The requirements of the standards:
Under the OHSAS 18001 specification, it is the responsibility of the
organisation to develop a management system covering occupational health
and safety policy, show its commitment to the prevention of injury and
ill health, identify health and safety laws and regulations applicable
to its operations, conduct hazard identification and risk assessments,
implement preventative measures to eliminate or manage the existing
health and safety risks and set goals and targets for future
The important thing in this process is hazard identification and risk
assessment and implementing preventative measures. The OHSAS
18001standard indicates that organisation must communicate its
occupational health and safety policy to its workers and ensure that
they are aware of the importance of occupational health and safety
policy to ensure their commitment to it.
Moreover, maintaining records and documentation of affected workers
and providing training and internal audits of its management system for
continual improvement are also major requirements of the OHSAS 18001
The Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI), has certified over 15
organisations with the OHSAS 18001 standard and promoted this concept
among industrialists to identify the risks within the organisation and
overcome such issues.
Some of the benefits of OHSAS 18001 certification include:
Improvement in worker safety consciousness, motivation and acceptance;
Risks to workers are controlled and managed; Reduction of accidents,
claims and lost time injuries; Increase in international acceptance and
credibility; Demonstration of legal and regulatory compliance and due
diligence; and improved overall performance.
Sri Lankan organisations should adopt the principles of OHSAS 18001
Standard to minimise issues pertaining to occupational health and safety
within the organisations.
The writer is the Director General of the Sri Lanka Standards