Many persons may not be familiar with the acronym ‘OSH’ but it is steadily becoming an important component for business; and participants in the upcoming Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Week, which will be observed from July 1 to July 4, will have the opportunity to learn more about a variety of themes relevant to OSH, including the introduction of a National Safety and Health Self-Management Systems Programme.

Systems such as these, which are already popular throughout North America and Europe, serve to actively manage the safety and health risks generated by an entity’s activities.  Senior Labour Officer with the Labour Department, Errol Goodridge explained that a proactive approach to OSH would ultimately result in an efficient business.

“Experience shows that an ad-hoc approach to the safety management is not effective. This approach tends to be reactive, where the prompt for safety and health improvements comes from findings of accident investigation or regulatory action.

“It is much better for organization to have systems in place to manage safety and health. Safety and Health management systems allow businesses to do that by providing a structured approach to the management of safety and health,” he said.

While each system would be tailored to cater to the nature of the business being conducted and the associated hazards, Mr. Goodridge stressed that all businesses stood to benefit from the adoption of a Safety and Health Management System.  While formal systems, such as the BS OHSAS 18000 series, are ideal, certification requires particular resources and auditing by an outside agency.

However, he said, “it is possible to have a fully functional safety and health management system in place without going through the process that is required to be certified as BS OHSAS 18001 compliant organisation. This is the primary objective of the National Safety and Health Self -Management Systems Programme, which seeks to promote safety and health self management within enterprises,” the Labour Department officer explained.

These Systems are also addressed in legislation, as it is listed as a requirement under the Safety and Health at Work (SHaW) Act 2005, Section 7(4), which highlights the need for: preparation and revision of a statement of general policy with respect to workplace safety, health and welfare; the organisation and arrangement for the time being in force for carrying out the policy; bringing the policy and any revisions of it to the notice of employees; and the production of a written policy where there are ten or more employees.  Compliance also requires that procedures be in place for monitoring and review.

The voluntary National Safety and Health Self-Management Programme, will see companies evaluated on the following criteria: the degree to which risk assessments are conducted; accident, incident and illness statistics; level of compliance with the Safety and Health at Work Act; Management Commitment and Employee Involvement.

Each company’s safety and health performance, Mr. Goodridge explained, would then be awarded a designation, ranging from bronze to platinum, with the latter awarded to those entities which demonstrate excellence in the management and promotion of occupational safety and health.

This success would not go unrewarded, he assured, as there were also plans to introduce an awards scheme for participating businesses.

“The National Safety Awards will run concurrently with the National Safety and Health Self-Management Programme. This is expected to be a biannual event and companies will receive recognition for the achievement of exemplary standards in occupational safety and health in their companies. Awards will be offered in the three categories of small, medium and large enterprise,” he revealed.

Mr. Goodridge pledged that his Department would continue to assist those organizations which require assistance with the creation and implementation of systems; and although this year’s workshop is already fully booked, he assured that businesses could depend on the support of the Labour Department.

Additional information on the National Safety and Health Self -Management Systems Programme may be obtained by contacting the Labour Department at 310-1523.

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