An occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS) has been defined in the British Standard BS 18004:2004 as an organisational management system used to develop and implement health and safety policy and manage health and safety risks. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) (2003) found that work related accidents and ill-health can be prevented, and well being at work enhanced, by organisations managing health and safety with the same degree of expertise, and to the same standard, as the core business activities. The main components of an OHSMS include a policy (a “mission statement” for health and safety); the arrangements for implementation of the said policy; monitoring of its effectiveness; and continual improvement. IOSH (2003) notes that systematizing these arrangements remove the potential arbitrariness of processes developed by a few individuals and provide an environment in which the whole workforce can be involved.
The Factories Act does not explicitly require employers to put occupational health and safety management systems in place. It is however required under the Safety and Health at Work (SHaW) Act 2005. Section 7 (4) states that: “It shall be the duty of every occupier to prepare and as often as may be appropriate, revise a statement of general policy with respect to workplace safety, health and welfare, and the organisation and arrangements for the time being in force for carrying out the policy, and to bring the policy and any revisions of it to the notice of all employees.’’ It should be noted that compliance requires procedures to be in place for monitoring and review.
Where there are ten or more employees then this policy needs to be written.
The main components as suggested by the section 7(4) of the SHaW Act 2005 are thus as follows:
- Statement of general policy
- Monitor and Revision
Formal safety and health systems have at their core the elements of plan, do, check and act (PDCA) embodying the principle of continual improvement (IOSH, 2003). The linkage between the core elements of PDCA and the requirements of the SHaW Act 2005 is described in the diagram below:
The PDCA Cycle (adapted from IOSH, 2003)
The SHaW Act 2005 once proclaimed, will provide the legal basis for the establishment of safety and health management systems.
Safety and Health Management Systems
There are many OHSMS models available for employers to use. Usually the OHSMS model would include extensive practical guidance on its implementation. Examples of formal OHSMS are:
- Occupational health and safety management systems - Requirements (BS OHSAS 18001:2007);
- Occupational health and safety management systems - Guidelines for the implementation of BS OHSAS 18001:2007 (BS OHSAS 18002:2008);
- Guide to achieving occupational health and safety performance (BS 18004:2008 supersedes BS8800:2004 which has been withdrawn);
- Successful health and safety management (HSG 65); and
- Guidelines on occupational safety and health management systems (ILO-OSH 2001).
There are no fundamental differences between the various models cited and they would all enable compliance with the SHaW Act 2005 when it is proclaimed.
First Aid Requirement
Each workplace MUST have at least one first aid kit which consists of items approved by the Chief Labour Officer and the Chief Medical Officer. The first aid kit(s) is to be placed in the charge of a responsible person(s) who is to always be available during working hours. Where there are more than 25 persons in a workplace, the person(s) in charge of the first aid kit(s) must be trained in first aid. The approved list of items can be obtained from the Labour Department or by clicking here.
Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) (2003) Systems in focus: guidance on occupational safety and health management IOSH UK