Combining ISO-14001 (Environmental Management) and OHSAS-18001 (Health & Safety Management) Into a Single Unified System

Combining the ISO-14001 Environmental Management and OHSAS-18001 Health and Safety Management standards into a single, unified system, can offer substantial advantages over implementing these systems separately. Costs can be greatly reduced with a single, combined set of documentation, greatly reduced training costs, and a lower registration audit cost. This is the most practical and least time consuming path to registration.

ISO-14001 and OHSAS-18001 are the two most common and most requested ISO management systems outside of the ISO-9001 (or the more industry specific AS-9100, ISO/TS-16949, and ISO-13485) Quality Management System. More and more forward thinking companies are requesting that their suppliers have an effective Environmental Management system in-place. This is especially important when dealing with companies whose public image is important to them. Many European companies are flowing down their environmental management requirements to their sub-tier suppliers as well.

Always insist on an ISO Certification issued by an ACCREDITED Registrar

Always insist on an ISO Certification issued by an ACCREDITED Registrar

Once you are registered to the ISO type quality system, adding registration to the Environmental and Health and Safety standards is not difficult at all. You already have the understanding of how these systems work and how they are administered, improved and maintained. This means that implementing both can not only save you considerable money over implementing one at a time, but it will also improve your company’s bottom lime when the savings of managing these critical aspects of business starts to kick in. Implementing these two management systems greatly reduces your company’s exposure to lawsuits as well.  Let’s examine each of these systems and discuss how effective implementation can save you money and control risks.

ISO-14001 is the International Environmental Management standard. This is the second most implemented ISO system. As of 2012, nearly a quarter of a million companies have become ISO certified. The ISO 14001 standard does not dictate environmental performance requirements. Instead, it serves as a framework to assist organizations in developing their own environmental management systems. ISO 14001 can be integrated with other management functions and assists companies in meeting their environmental and economic goals. ISO 14001, like ISO-9001 is very scalable, so it may be applied to any size or type of organization, product or service, in any sector of activity, so whether you have three or 5,000 employees, manufacture hazardous chemicals, or only produce intellectual property, you can certify your business to ISO-14001.

OHSAS-18001 is a virtual mirror of ISO-14001 with the exception that it focuses it’s management efforts on the company’s health and safety issues rather than its environmental issues. For this reason implementing both is not much more difficult than implementing only one. The majority of the effort in implementing these is training your employees how to effectively use them. ISO accreditation bureaus and registrars recognize this so they can offer a discounted registration audit when doing both systems simultaneously – as much as a 30% reduction.

In addition to improved operations efficiencies, implementing these standards can result in a big discount in insurance costs. Both liability insurance, because you have substantially less exposure to lawsuits, and worker’s compensation insurance, because you address, monitor and manage your company’s health and safety issues, can be reduced – sometimes paying back the cost of implementation is a single year, depending on your company’s size, exposure and other relevant issues.

Learning and implementing the ISO-14001 Environmental Management and OHSAS-18001 Health and Safety Management standards, while not difficult for an already qualified ISO-9001 Quality System manager, simply requires investing the time to receive training in these two standards and in how to combine them. Many procedures and methods can be combined. For instance, you only need one corrective action procedure, one management review meeting, and one set of documents that will cover the requirements of both standards. One way to ease this time consuming process is by using qualified and trained consultants. If you elect to go this route, be sure your consultants are not only trained on both the ISO-14001 and  OHSAS-18001 standards, but also on how to combine them into a single combined system. ANAB accredited registrars are now offering Lead Auditor training for combined management systems.

Jeff Spira is a senior partner with ABCI Consultants.