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 Safety and Health at Work (SHAW) Act requires employers to put occupational safety and health management systems in place. 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 Cap 356 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 Cap 356 is described in the diagram below: