Implementation of an occupational health and safety (OHS) management system will, in addition to ensuring a commitment to comply with all applicable HSE Regulations, provide reassurance to employees and visitors of the commitment of the organisation to provide a healthy and safe working environment.
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Health & safety legislation was first introduced in the nineteenth century to control such things as ventilation, working hours and use of child labour in cotton mills. The first attempt to consolidate some of this legislation resulted in the Factories Act 1961. This was followed, in 1974, by the current Health & Safety at Work Act. To support this Act there are approximately 300 other pieces of UK legislation and Approved Codes of Practice (ACoPs) covering specific aspects of occupational health & safety. This number is growing daily due to new EU Directives.
In 1991 the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) published HS(G)65 ‘Successful Health & Safety Management’ in an attempt to encourage organisations to implement health & safety management systems. Shortly after in 1994, a standard for environmental management systems, BS 7750, was published in the UK. This had many similarities with the ISO 9000 series of quality management system standards and within two years was adopted by ISO and published as ISO 14001. Although focused on environmental management, this standard, with very few minor changes, could be adapted to cover the management of health & safety.
UK organisations wishing to implement a health & safety management system had two choices; HS(G)65 or adopt the ISO 14001 model.
BSI responded to this situation by publishing BS 8800 ‘Guide to Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems’ in 1996. As the title infers, this was a guide, not a standard designed for assessment purposes, and combined the requirements of HS(G)65 and ISO 14001
Assessment bodies in the UK started to experience pressure from their client organisations for a health & safety management system standard that could be implemented alongside ISO 9001 and/or ISO 14001, be subject to assessment, and if the requirements were suitably met, be acknowledged by the granting of a certificate of registration. Some leading assessment bodies, in response to this demand, produced their own standards or assessment criteria and started to assess organisations against these criteria and award certificates as appropriate.
These organisations then pooled their resources and, with the support of BSI, published Occupational Health & Safety Assessment Criteria OHSAS 18001 in 1999 and the accompanying guidelines for implementation OHSAS 18002 in 2000. The content, layout and style of OHSAS 18001 is very closely matched to ISO 14001.
At long last, in 2018, international agreement was reached and OHSAS 18001 became ISO 45001.
Occupational health & safety management systems can be implemented to meet the requirements of ISO 45001 and either registered by a UKAS Accredited Certification Body or maintained to meet all the requirements but not formally registered.