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Integrating ISO 9001, 14001 and OHSAS 18001

04 April 2017
Have you got more than one management system? Have you thought about integrating them? Wondered how easy it might be...? Our auditor Shaun Corkerry looks at reasons why you may want to integrate your management systems.

When I am visiting clients, I often ask if they are thinking of integrating their management systems -many only have one standard (typically, though not invariably ISO 9001) certified and not the other two (ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001).

The response, until now was very mixed.

Many organizations, by now, will be well aware of the 2015 changes to the ISO 9001 and 14001 suites of standards. Sadly for various reasons, the process of turning OHSAS 18001 into an international standard are delayed, leaving it very likely that this will now become ISO 45001:2017.

That said, the common structure of all three standards (in accordance with Annex SL) is going to be the same, making it much easier to meet the requirements of all of the standards with one integrated management system.

Having three separate standards each with their own clause numbers unfortunately encouraged organizations to have three distinct systems, and in some cases to use different areas of the business and people to manage them.

To understand how we got to that point, a little history is required!

ISO 9001 developed first and is descended from a long line of mainly defence related standards going back to the 1950’s (though food standards and legislation is much older in the UK). The heart of BS 5750 and later ISO 9001 was to help organizations ensure that they meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders while meeting any statutory and regulatory requirements related to a product or program.

ISO 14001 (published 1996) introduced different requirements based on the needs of its target market which of course aimed to improve the environmental performance of organizations while again meeting all relevant statutory and regulatory requirements.

OHSAS 18001 (published 1999) in turn utilized thinking derived from experience with both ISO 9001 and 14001. It exists to help all kinds of organizations put in place demonstrably sound occupational health and safety performance to create a safer place to work.

There is as I hope you can see now, a common aim emerging.

As an auditor, I have to say I now see little difference between any of the three in terms of purpose.
For me they all do the same basic things: Reduce RISK and WASTE. For example:

ISO 9001 (Quality Management)

  • Reduces the risk of producing products that don’t conform.
  • Reduces the risk of producing a product no-one wants.
  • Reduces rework, returns and WASTE

ISO 14001 (Environmental Management)

  • Reduces the risks of breaking the law
  • Reduces the risks of polluting or harming the environment
  • Manages your WASTE Streams

OHSAS 18001 (Health and Safety Management)

  • Reduces the risk to you at work
  • Reduces the risks of breaking the law
  • Reduces WASTE and LOST TIME due to accidents.

Together these standards reduce the risks to an organization of getting it wrong in any of the three key areas. This ties in nicely with the increased emphasis in ISO 9001:2015 on risk based thinking.
Many of us will know the old proverb “for want of a nail” which illustrates my point exactly.
Wikipedia tells us: "For Want of a Nail" is a proverb, having numerous variations over several centuries, reminding that seemingly unimportant acts or omissions can have grave and unforeseen consequences.”
For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For want of a horse the knight was lost,
For want of a knight the battle was lost,
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
So a kingdom was lost—all for want of a nail.
So whereas the reply to my earlier question would have been “why should we have an integrated management system?” The reply nowadays would be “why not?”