Management system guidance
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5.1 OH&S leadership and commitment
Implementation takes time, money and other resources. Make sure you have Top management’s commitment before continuing the implementation project. Be sure that Top management are solidly behind implementation of the OHSMS because without that commitment, the implementation process becomes almost impossible.
Safety promotion encourages a positive safety culture and helps achieve your organization’s safety objectives, through the combination of technical competence that is continually enhanced through training and education, effective communications and information-sharing. Senior management provides the leadership to promote the safety culture throughout the business.
Effective safety management cannot be achieved solely by mandate or strict adherence to policies and procedures. Safety promotion affects both individual and organizational behaviour, and supplements the organization’s policies, procedures and processes, providing a value system that supports safety efforts. Top management should demonstrate their initial commitment to the implementation project by the ensuring that:
- The implementation mandate is communicated and understood;
- Appropriate resources are made available;
- An appropriate budget is made available.
Understand why your organization is implementing a health and safety management system. Is it because a client or the market requires you to register? Is it for internal benefits? Is the motivation coming from Top management? Whatever the reasons for implementation, keep them visible during the implementation project as this helps to retain commitment and to maintain focus on the end goal.
It will no longer be appropriate to have one representative driving the OHSMS on behalf of the rest of the organisation. Top management is accountable for the success of the OHSMS and as such should lead, promote and direct others to ensure it drives health, safety and business benefits.
This is a significant change from the requirements of OHSAS 18001 where Top management simply appointed a Safety Management Representative; signed the policies and attended management review meetings. Top management can be one or more people but must have cross-functional influence in order to integrate the OHSMS with current business processes and to ensure OHSMS compatibility with your organization’s strategic direction.
Is top management engaged and leading OHS, rather than delegating to someone further down your organisation. Are workers being involved directly to protect, improve performance, and support the OHS management system.
- Ensuring that the OHS policy and OHS objectives are established and are compatible with the strategic direction of the organisation;
- Integrating the OHS management system requirements into the organisation’s business processes;
- Providing the necessary resources for the OHS management system;
- Communicating the importance of effective OHS management;
- Directing and supporting persons to contribute to the effectiveness of the OHS management system;
- Assisting other relevant management roles to demonstrate their leadership as it applies to their areas of responsibility.
Engagement can be further enhanced by reviewing the safety achievements of your organization. These are often greater and broader than expected because the initiatives are categorised under economic rather than safety improvement. This realisation builds commitment to do more. By developing engagement, the senior team are more likely to contribute to the other changes such as the context review and stakeholder analysis.
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