OHSMS (Occupational Health & Safety Management System) Standards History


OSH Officer

Here is a very interesting document (english, arabic, spanish, portuguese, french, and russian) on the Management Systems of Safety and Health at Work: (broken link removed)

It gives us a historyof OHSMS standards as follows:

In recent years, the application of systems models to OSH, now referred to as the OSH management systems approach, has retained the attention of enterprises, governments and international organizations as a promising strategy to harmonize OSH and business requirements, and ensure more effective participation of workers in implementing the preventive measures.

It has been over a decade now that the concept of OSHMS is being promoted as an effective way to improve the implementation of OSH in the workplace by ensuring the integration of its requirements into business planning and development processes. A significant number of OSHMS standards and guidelines have been developed since by professional, government and international bodies with responsibilities or interests in the area of OSH. Many countries have formulated national OSH strategies that also integrate the management systems approach. At the international level, the ILO published in 2001 Guidelines on occupational safety and health management systems (ILO-OSH 2001) which because of their tripartite approach have become a widely used model for developing national standards in this area.

The OSHMS’ approach gained support following the wide endorsement and success of the ISO standards for quality (ISO 9000 series) and later for the environment (ISO 14000 series). This model is based on systems theories developed primarily in the natural and social sciences, but is also similar to business management mechanisms. Four elements common to general systems theories are: input, process, output, and feedback.

Following the adoption of the ISO 9000 quality and 14000 environmental management technical standards in the early 1990s, the possibility of developing an ISO standard on OSH Management Systems was discussed at an ISO International Workshop in 1996. It became rapidly evident that as safety and health was about the protection of the health and life of
human beings, it was already stated as an obligation for the employer in national legislation. There were also issues related to ethics, rights and duties and the participation of social partners which also called for consideration in this context. A management standard in this area had to be rooted in the principles of ILO OSH standards such as the Convention on Occupational Safety and Health, 1981 (No. 155) and could not be treated in the same way as other quality and environmental matters. This became a major issue for debate and it was eventually agreed that, with its tripartite structure and its standard-setting role, the ILO was the most appropriate body to develop international OSHMS guidelines. An attempt in 1999 by the British Standards Institution (BSI) to develop an OSH management standard under the umbrella of ISO was again met by strong international opposition resulting in shelving the proposal. BSI developed later OSHMS guidelines in the form of private technical standards (OHSAS) but ISO did not.

After two years of development and international peer review, the ILO Guidelines on occupational safety and health management systems (ILO-OSH 2001) were finally adopted at a tripartite Meeting of experts in April 2001 and published in December 2001 following the approval of the Governing Body of the ILO. In 2007, the Governing Body reaffirmed the ILO’s mandate in the matter of OSH, asking the ISO to refrain from developing an international standard on OSHMS. The ILO-OSH 2001 Guidelines provide a unique international model, compatible with other management system standards and guides. They reflect ILO’s tripartite approach and the principles defined in its international OSH instruments, particularly the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No. 155). Their guidance provides for the systematic management of OSH both at the national and organization’s levels.

It gives an OHSMS inventory in the world too :

Countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Israel and Ireland have formally recognized the ILO guidelines as a model for national promotion or the development of OSHMS guidelines adapted to their national needs. France has recognised the ILO guidelines as the only ones that may be used for certification nationally. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has just started a 3 year programme to implement ILO-OSH 2001 in medium and large enterprises. In Japan, tailored guidelines have been developed using the ILO Guidelines as a model. These are the Construction Occupational Safety and Health Management Systems (COSHMS) Guidelines produced by the Japan Construction Safety and Health Association (JCSHA) and the OSH management system guidelines for manufacturing produced by the Japan Industrial Safety and Health Association (JISHA).

Eleven CIS countries, adopted in 2007 a new interstate standard – GOST 12.0.230-2007: “Occupational safety standards system. Occupational safety and health management systems. General requirements” based on ILO–OSH 2001.

A good indicator of the worldwide endorsement of the ILO Guidelines is the fact that they have been translated into over 22 languages and used in at least 30 countries. The ILO guidelines are fast becoming the most referenced and used model for the development of OSHMS programmes at the national and enterprise level. Their generic format makes them easy to use together with other OHSMS standards or to include them in integrated management systems, as well as facilitating the implementation of OSH requirements by both multinational international organizations.

Many of the voluntary standards, whether developed by national agencies or professional bodies have used the ILO-OSH 2001 Guidelines as a model because it reflects the principles promoted by ILO OSH standards and it was developed and adopted on a tripartite basis and represents therefore a very wide consensus on the most effective way to manage OSH.

Although organizations may use various versions of OSHMS standards depending on national requirements and the sector involved, all these standards integrate the PDCA model mentioned before. A number of OSHMS technical standards and guidelines designed for organizations have been developed by private bodies such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI Z10), or the British Standards Institution (BS OHSAS 18000 series). In the last 20 years, a large majority of countries have been introducing the implementation of OSHMS in organizations through a number of voluntary or regulatory mechanisms which can be:
■■ Mandatory through regulatory measures, at least for specified undertakings (Indonesia, Norway, Singapore);
■■ Nationally applicable voluntary standards with the support of certification mechanisms (Australia and New Zealand, China, Thailand);
■■ Voluntary through promotion of national OSHMS guidelines issued by a national body (Japan, Korea);
■■ Voluntary through the adoption of internationally recognized OSHMS such as ILO-OSH 2001 (India, Malaysia).

This OHSMS standards history and inventoty will probably interest everybody considering or already using an OHSMS, especially those who think that BS OHSAS 18001 is an international standard or believe that ISO would still have an OSHMS standard draft. Remember now that ISO 26000 (social responsability) quotes ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ILO-OSH of course.

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Super Moderator
Re: OHSMS Standards History

A quick bump!

Any comments? Feedback?

Thank you very much!!

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