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History of OHSAS 18001

History of OHSAS 18001

In the history of Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) management system standard, the development of OHSAS 18001: 1999 was certainly a milestone. OHSAS 18001: 2007, which just was released in July 2007, takes this development process further by making it more robust, introducing skill requirements and improving compatibility with other management system standards.

Those familiar with OHSAS 18001: 1999 would agree that it went a long way in putting together requirements from various sources into a specification and bringing about clarity towards OH&S requirements. That led to its adoption by several organizations and countries. On the flip side however, the generic nature of the standard did not perhaps sufficiently set it apart as an OH&S sector specific requirement

Given the sensitivity associated with OH&S, this typically is a regulatory requirement in most countries. Also, governments typically have their own requirements and there is little consistency among various countries. Recognizing this diversity, when OHSAS 18001 was first introduced in 1999, it was released only as a specification and not as a standard. Expectedly, there were barriers to implementation. To drive more consistency in interpretation and adoption, the International Labour Organization (ILO) published guidelines for the OH&S in 2001. This led to over 80 countries trying to adopt the specification consistently. The collective experience has resulted in a situation where the OHSAS has moved from being a specification in 1999 to a standard in 2007.

One of the important changes in new version relates to clause 4.3.1 Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment, and Determining the Controls. This clause requires the organizations to take into account human behaviors, the changes of organization activities and system, the changes of legal requirements, and processes such as design process when implementing hazard identification and risk assessment. Hierarchy is required to be considered during determination of controls. The controls range from elimination, substitution, engineering controls, signage/ warning/ administrative controls to the last option being use of personal protective equipments.

There is an increased emphasis on “Health” aspects. The term “ill health” prevention is included as part of OH&S policy to emphasize this aspect. Additionally, there are now requirements for worker participation and consultation to be consistent with the ILO expectation.

This updated version has successfully incorporated basic viewpoints of current OH&S theories and methods, and provided a friendlier interface with management practices. This makes it easy for organizations to understand the intent behind the requirements. Though challenging, these requirements are significant enough to interest the experts within an organization since they are practical requirements and drive improvement actions.

Doruk Sistem is at the service of organizations keen to implement and benefit from the requirements stated in the new OHSAS 18001: 2007.

contact for further details and procedures to setup OHSAS 18001 certification.


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