Occupational Safety and Health Management Systems (OSHMS) have been defined by Gallagher as “…a combination of the planning and review, the management organizational arrangements, the consultative arrangements, and the specific program elements that work together in an integrated way to improve health and safety performance” (Gallagher, 2000:1). The employer is accountable for and has a duty to organize occupational safety and health (ILO- OSH Guidelines-2001) by having a written health and safety policy (if you employ five or more people); assessments of the risks to employees, contractors, customers, partners, and any other people who could be affected by your activities – and record the significant findings in writing (if you employ five or more people). Any risk assessment must be ‘suitable and sufficient’; arrangements for the effective planning, organization, control, monitoring and review of the preventive and protective measures that come from risk assessment;  access to competent health and safety advice (; providing employees with information about the risks in your workplace and how they are protected; instruction and training for employees in how to deal with the risks; ensuring there is adequate and appropriate supervision in place; consulting with employees about their risks at work and current preventive and protective measures.

A fundamental principle of the scientific method and PDCA is iteration—once a hypothesis is confirmed (or negated), executing the cycle again will extend the knowledge further. Repeating the PDCA cycle can bring its users closer to the goal, usually a perfect operation and output. The PDCA approach is typically applied on the management system to continually improve in the OSH performance. This approach is stacked in chronologically and kept as the elements 2 to 5 in NEBOSH IGC to inculcate the rudimentary knowledge of the OSHMS in hazard and risk reduction through the root of more sophisticated management principles upon the complex technologies to master a galloping industrialization.

The application of OSHMS is based on relevant OSH criteria, standards and performance. It aims at providing a method to assess and improve performance in the prevention of workplace incidents and accidents via the effective management of hazards and risks in the workplace. It is a logical, stepwise method to decide what needs to be done, how best to do it, monitor progress toward the established goals, evaluate how well it is done and identify areas for improvement. It is and must be capable of being adapted to changes in the business of the organization and to legislative requirements. When applied to OSH, “Plan” involves the setting of an OSH policy, planning including the allocation of resources, provision of skills and organization of the system, hazard identification and risk assessment. The “Do” step refers to actual implementation and operation of the OSH program. The “Check” step is devoted to measuring both the active and reactive performance of the program. Finally the “Act” step closes the cycle with a review of the system in the context of continual improvement and the priming of the system for the next cycle. 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. At the international level, the ILO published in 2011 Guidelines on occupational safety and health management system (ILO-OSH 2001) which is because of their tripartite approach have become a widely used model for developing national standards in this area.

Article written by

Ananth Tamilmaniarasu, 

HSE Trainer & Consultant,

Green World Group,Dubai.

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