Effective management of safety is consistent with good business sense and it is essential that health and safety is integrated into the planning, purchasing, production, distribution, sales and financial aspects of a business. Business owners and managers must overcome the view that safety is separate from business, safety must be considered as an equal with quality and productivity during the business planning cycle.
This will be possible if we apply the principles of systematic management to safety, just as we do with any other aspect of a business. An OHS management system will provide a framework which enables a planned and consistent approach, as well as providing opportunities for continuous improvement in health and safety for the business.
Traditionally. safety management has been reactive; with a business only taking action after something has gone wrong. An OHS management system will provide the opportunity for a business to take a proactive approach to safety by adopting risk management principles which allow hazards to be identified and controlled before they cause harm.
An OHS management system will ensure a coordinated approach to health and safety instead of trying to deal with potentially conflicting information and instructions which lead to confusion among managers and employees and expose the business to unacceptable risk.
An OHS Management system will allow mechanisms for involving your staff in health and safety at the workplace. Employee involvement is one of the principles of good management practice and providing opportunity for input to the people who are doing the work and who know what the problems are, can only benefit the business.
An OHS management system will provide a process for review which will permit you to take an "under the hood" look at what is happening in your business and allow you to make improvements where required.
While many may see the implementation of an OHS management system in their business as just too hard or too prescriptive, it cannot be denied that there are significant advantages to the systematic management of safety. Business improvements, reduction in risk, and operating cost reductions all flow from a successfully implemented OHS management system.
While many small to medium businesses may view OHS management systems as too complicated for the way they operate, just not know where to start, or do not see a need to impose seemingly complex processes into a business that does not have the resources or expertise, it still makes good business sense for them to adopt a systematic approach to safety.
For these small to medium businesses the key is to develop a management system that is consistent with the size and risks of their business. A good safety management system does not have to be complicated and detailed in lengthy volumes of documentation. In many cases, there may be existing, although informal, elements of a system already in place which could be captured and included in a formal management system which is appropriate to the business.
Overall, the benefits provided by a safety management system will be a planned and proactive approach to making workplaces safer.
Articles are intended to provide commentary and general advice only and should not be relied upon as legal advice.