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E-shots Web-exclusive: Global-scale occupational health and safety

The Plant Tour in the upcoming June issue of IMM takes you into the factory of Thien Long, an office gear (pens, etc.) OEM in Vietnam with extensive in-house moldmaking and molding. It's an interesting story of a successful entrepreneur who started up not long after the Vietnam War ended, and who now is looking ambitiously at global markets.

Among many other things, company president Co Gia Tho is concerned about the safety of his 1000 employees, and therefore the company has been certified to the OHSAS 18001 standard. The what?

There's a better than even chance that those in North America have little to no awareness of that standard. True, the name looks a lot like OSHA, the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, but only because each is concerned with occupational safety and health. OSHA reportedly wants no part of OHSAS, saying we are adequately covered. Many would agree instantly.

However, if you're in a multinational company, or doing business with one, you may be called upon at some point to measure up to the international standard, and it is different from OSHA. The details are too much to cover here, but we can give a quick overview and point you at the source. OHSAS was driven chiefly by the British Standards Institution (BSI), which manages it now, but was actually formulated by a group of 14 national and independent safety organizations from around the world, none of them North American.

Together these organizations put together the BSI-OHSAS 18001:1999 assessment specification for an Occupational Health & Safety System. BSI-OHSAS 18002 is an explanation of the spec plus guidelines for working toward implementation and registration.

OSHAS seems to have been largely developed for countries around the world with no defined safety management standards, of which there are many. First in the list of the standard's benefits is: Reduce the exposure of employees and other parties to occupational health and safety risks associated with the organization's activities.

Other benefits include reducing resulting costs; the ability to show conformance to interested third parties, such as clients; a consistent management approach to safety and health risks; and a method for continual improvement. In short, like ISO 9001 or 14001, this standard provides a structured management framework, in this case for health and safety risks and issues.

For detailed information:
The Occupational Health & Safety Group
Cheshire, UK
[email protected]
Asking Google about OHSAS 18001 will give you plenty more.

TAGS: Business
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