What is a management system?
According to AS/NZS ISO 9001 (the forerunner to the WHS management system standard ISO45001 and the environmental management system (EMS) standard AS/NZS ISO 14001:2004), organisations must identify and manage numerous linked activities to function effectively. It goes on to discuss the need for managing resources, inputs and outputs etc, making the point that only through a systematic or process approach will an organisation be able to maintain control. Put simply, a management system is the structure that enables organisations to manage the way they operate.
Some may argue that organisations exist, possibly even flourish, without a Quality, Environment, or even WHS management system. However, upon closer inspection, this is not the case. All successful organisations have values, policies, procedures, standard processes and practices. Whether documented or not, these are the components of that organisation’s system of management. By formalising this system, an organisation has the opportunity to review its performance, determine what works and does not work, agree to the preferred processes and proactively manage its performance.
Pitfalls of buying a system
An all too common response is for an organisation to seek to buy a management system ‘off the shelf’. Without the necessary contextualisation or engagement of relevant stakeholders during the design, are not only likely to be a wrong fit for the business but they will fail to gain the momentum to survive or could even be sabotaged from within the organisation.
A management system needs to be owned and operated by the organisation. No CEO worth their salt would dream to publish company vision, values or policy which they had simply downloaded from the internet and yet they may consider managing workplace health and safety, quality and/or environmental management this way.
Pitfalls of designing a system
Unfortunately interpreting standards and developing a system can be quite complex. Even practitioners highly skilled in their relevant discipline can find it difficult negotiating the process and producing something that meets the relevant criteria. Alternatively, many organisations end up with a system that meets all the requirements but results in a situation where their people are slaves to documentation without seeing any added value to their processes or improvement in their performance.
WHS Management System Solution
So an ‘off-the-shelf’ system is not the right approach but your organisation doesn’t have the internal expertise to develop a system ‘in-house’, what’s the answer? In the same way CEOs and boards of directors seek independent legal advice, due diligence from an accountant auditing firm, or the expert opinion of an engineer, there are many instances where the design, development, implementation and review of management systems can require external experts; environmental and WHS consultants.
When seeking this expertise, consider the providers background, experience, qualifications and past successes. If the consultant isn’t qualified to audit the applicable standard, then how could the design a system to meet it? If they have no actual industry experience then how will they adapt the cold hard pages of generic requirements to your business need? Seek referrals, do background checks, ask for references.
As a professional Environmental and WHS Consultancy, OSHEM Solutions, provides a range of Work Health and Safety (WHSMS), Environmental (EMS), and Integrated Management System services, including design & development, implementation, audit & workplace inspection and review.
Tap on this link to find out more about the type of services we provide, including case studies. If you would like more information on management systems, including how we can assist your organisation in developing something to meet your unique needs call us on 1300 657 279 or by email: Contact Us.