The Ministry of Labour is now wrapping up a public consultation process on a new initiative that would encourage workplaces to apply a management system approach to health and safety. The initiative will also recognize workplaces that achieve success. WSPS eNews asked Stephen Oakley, WSPS' Director, Management Systems, what's involved and what's in it for employers.
What does the ministry mean by a management system approach?
The Occupational Health and Safety Act defines a health and safety management system as "a coordinated system of procedures, processes and other measures that is designed to be implemented by employers in order to promote continuous improvement in occupational health and safety." It helps you raise your existing health and safety program and your business, to the next level.
How does it work?
There are two parts to the initiative. First, the ministry will establish a voluntary standard featuring specific elements a health and safety management system must include to receive accreditation. The ministry would not be introducing new standards. Instead, it would accredit management system standards already used by Canadian workplaces that meet the accreditation requirements. Most are based on tried and true business practices that have been proven to improve traditional health and safety efforts while also adding value to other business areas.
Second, workplaces seeking recognition will be required to show that they have successfully implemented one of these accredited systems. This will require some form of audit, details to be determined based on input received from the consultation.
Would implementing a management system change how workplaces approach health and safety?
That varies on a case by case basis, however, it would involve integrating health and safety into business planning. A well-executed management system enhances efficiency. In this instance, it would help health and safety make a greater contribution to the business.
Unlike a prevention program, that primarily seeks to prevent negative outcomes, a management system prevents negative outcomes while also enabling positive ones. This may take the form of operational efficiencies, greater employee engagement, proactive decision-making, and resource allocation using risk-based thinking. The result is a safer and healthier workplace, superior quality, and a greater competitive advantage.
Is there a cost involved?
Implementing any management system takes time, effort and resources. The amount depends on what you already have in place. It’s important to understand that while more may be expected of a workplace when implementing a management system, the outcomes are commensurate. An effective system yields results that help the business to succeed.
What if my workplace has already started implementing a management system?
The accreditation framework is designed to grant equivalencies where appropriate. It's not about creating a new standard. Many existing standards will be included.
Does a management system work for small businesses?
Yes, most standards are intended to be scalable. The question is, does it make sense for your business? The answer to this could come from your supply chain. In some circumstances you might not be able to bid on certain contracts without one.
How WSPS can help
We provide training and consulting solutions to help you implement and maintain a health and safety management system. These solutions are evolving to include content relevant to the final accreditation requirements and the ISO 45001 standard, expected to be published in early 2018.
Starting this winter, through a new series of WSPS Safety Connection events, we're also offering information sessions on management systems and the proposed accreditation framework. Check the schedule
for a session near you.