The OHSAS 18001 standard was designed for occupational health and safety management systems.
Increasingly more organisations are being proactive about health and safety, and the OHSAS 18001 offers a good approach for that. In practice, you will see that it is mostly organisations that are progressive in the areas of health and safety that get certified in this standard. These organisations often combine the OHSAS 18001 with the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001—a combination that is easy to make.
My view is that this standard contributes to organisations’ understanding of working conditions and safety. By actively engaging in the different components of the standard, many organisations will gain new insights in the area of risk within the organisation. By subsequently taking the proper measures, organisations can be proactive and preventative. Not only is this good for safety, but also for the morale of the employees! After all, they will see that these issues are high on management’s agenda. The word ‘together’ typifies the OHSAS 18001. An OHS management system can only succeed if there is awareness within the organisation that a good, safe working environment depends on everyone who works in the organisation. As such, that is also a characteristic of OHSAS 18001 certified companies. It is clear that people in these organisations work much better together to achieve goals than in other organisations, and that is of significant added value.
The step towards OHSAS 18001, especially if there already is an ISO 9001 / ISO 14001 management system in place, is not that big. One possible pitfall could be if an organisation chooses to keep systems for ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 separate, even though the systems are very similar, and health and safety risks have much in common with environmental risks. This would create unnecessary double work within the organisation.
For larger organisations, an OHSAS 18001 certificate can be beneficial to their image. Particularly in the world of tendering, the certificate can provide added value, as it will be considered during the evaluation of tender bids. Additionally, increasingly more organisations are considering the possibility of getting the OHSAS 18001 certificate in lieu of the VCA certificate, since it can be better integrated with the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 management systems. In 2016, OHSAS 18001 will be replaced by the ISO 45001, based on the High Level Structure (HLS). It is expected that at that time even more organisations will transition away from VCA certification.
In conclusion, it is my experience that OHSAS 18001 is undoubtedly valuable for organisations. Whether it is put in place for the employees, or to be able to show the outside world that the organisation is certified, it adds a lot of value to the organisation compared to other organisations that are not yet OHSAS 18001 certified.