OHS Policy: The Power within

OHS Policy

OHS Policy: The Power within

I have had the privilege of being a SHEQ training facilitator for the past 20 years , 8 years of which have been spent as a lecturer for the Center for Environmental Management (North West University). During most of the course’s, I ask simple questions, “ How may of the training candidates have read our countries Constitution and in particular the Bill of Rights?” I am quite sad to say that the majority of people I speak to have not read these amazing and fundamental documents. The Constitution of South Africa and specifically the Bill of Rights is the cornerstone of South African Law and the benchmark against which all legislation in RSA is compared.

It is considered to be one of the most progressive Constitutions in the World. Any legislation which is found to be contradictory to the Constitution can then be repealed.

The Bill of Rights which is Chapter 2 of our great Constitution contains the following provisions (to mention but a few):

  • Equality
  • Freedom of Speech
  • Freedom of Religion
  • The right to a safe and healthy living environment

The provisions of the Bill of Rights impact the way we interact with each other as human beings in South Africa, each and every day. Basically it governs the very essence of our relationships with one another.  Don’t you think it would be a good idea to read Chapter 2 of the Constitution ?

Why I opened this discussion about why many South Africans have not read or have any knowledge of the Constitution, is that I find a very similar situation occurs when it comes to Organisations OHS Occupational Health & Safety Policies. Most people are unaware of the importance of the document or how it should impact on their actions on site.


Basically your OHS Policy is the cornerstone of your Occupational Health & Safety Management System , all of your procedures, work instructions , registers and checklists should be infused with the commitments that are made in these documents. The same way you use a cornerstone to set the lines and direction to build, so you use your Policy and the commitments made within the policy as guide lines for the development of your management system.

You should consider the following when developing an OHS Policy:

  1. What law applies to your Organisations i.e. the OHS Act of the Mines Health & Safety Act.
  2. What Management Systems (Best Practice) have to say about OHS Policies.

Common among both the Legal and best practice options are the following:

  1. The policy must be suitable and relevant to your organisation and its hazards and risks.
  2. It should make a commitment to:
    • The prevention of injury & ill health.
    • Compliance to legal and other requirements.
    • Improving your Occupational Health & Safety performance.
  3. Should be documented, implemented and communicated and periodically reviewed.
  4. Should lead to the setting and reviewing of objectives.
  5. It should be approved by the CEO (signed if a legal requirement ) apply to your organisation

Basically the reason you develop your OHS Management System is to live up to the commitments that you have made in your policy. You could not hope to prevent injury and ill health without a risk assessment , training your staff in hazards , risks and the safe way to perform their tasks, operational controls , emergency planning etc. So I hope you’ve realizing the link in importance between the commitments in your OHS Policy and the way your OHS system is implemented and maintained.

As a certified Lead Auditor against the OHSAS 18001 standard I have seen many organisations OHS Policies and in many cases they have become mere window dressing. I say this as they make great commitments, but when the takkie hits the tar they are not followed. CEO’s need to be aware that they will be held accountable for the commitments made in their OHS Policies and employees need to know how important these commitments are to follow.

Contact SRM for any assistance your may require with the design and implementation of you OHS , ISO 9001; ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 Management systems. We care about people, we make a difference, we make compliance easy.

See attached OHS Policy Example

2_IMS-01-3 Health & Safety Policy

Related Tags: OHS Course