The value of Integrated Management Systems for the success of organizations

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These modern tools and work methodologies, which are based on the combination of various ISO standards, allow optimize occupational health and safety care, minimizing the impact of activities on the environment and focusing on effective continuous improvement processes.

The success of companies is not measured only in the quality of their products or services. It also resides in a management system that makes processes more efficient, optimizes resources, saves costs and, very especially, helps maintain high standards of occupational health and safety, and (off course) environmental care.

However, to prevent occupational risks, comply with health regulations, care for the safety of the workforce and protect the environment, it is not enough just to implement specific policies or guidelines for each of these points.

We also need a comprehensive, agile and flexible management strategy, which implies analyzing, diagnosing, planning and executing in a harmonious way the necessary actions to achieve the strategic objectives of our company or organization.

All this with sufficient flexibility and capacity for innovation in order to opportunely face possible contingencies and changes in context.

To successfully carry on this task, experts suggest acting based on the reference frameworks established by ISO standards: 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 45001:2018 in the areas of Quality, Health, Safety and Environment. This will allow the creation of Integrated Management Systems (SIG) adapted to the different organizational models and their respective challenges.

In this way, it will be possible to protect the health of employees, improve working conditions, minimize the environmental impact of the activities carried out and, simultaneously, optimize the quality of processes, products and services.

Types of Management Systems

To guarantee the effective improvement of these processes, it is essential to have an IMS that allow us to achieve all the strategic objectives, and simultaneously comply the respective regulations stipulated by the legal regulations in force in each country.

This can only be achieved through the design and application of profitable, sustainable and highly environmentally friendly good labor practices. All this, framed in a process of continuous improvement and permanent orientation to quality.

In this sense, there are three types of specific GIS, which are classified according to the variables considered in their application, depending on the characteristics of each company and their respective strategic goals.

1. Health and Safety at Work (HS)

The most basic level of integrated management systems corresponds to Health and Safety at Work (HSW), whose specific objective is to optimize the working conditions and environment where employees carry out their daily activities.

To do this, it integrates from the respective Occupational Health and Safety policies to the corresponding improvement actions, in order to be able to identify, minimize, evaluate and control the risks that affect the safety and health of the workforce.

2. HSE systems

A more advanced level corresponds to the Safety, Occupational Health and Environment Management Systems, also known as HSE.

This management system must anticipate and control all the risks to which both the collaborators and the company’s assets are exposed; as well as to prevent and/or mitigate any damage that the activities of the company or organization cause to the environment. Its main benefit is the optimization of tasks, the reduction of costs and the minimization of the environmental impact. They also facilitate compliance with the laws and regulations associated with these issues, as well as the optimization of production processes.

To ensure that the HSE management systems help comply with national and international health, safety and environmental legal standards, we must carry on an extensive control and monitoring process must be applied to each of these variables.

In the same way, “good labor practices” must be promoted through a series of policies that allow supervising the correct application of internal health and safety regulations, the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and the effective management of the environmental risks associated with each specific activity.

3. HSEQ systems

The most detailed variant of this set of integrated policies corresponds to the HSEQ (Health, Security, Environment and Quality) systems, which integrate the “quality” variable into the organizational management of Occupational Health, Safety and Environment.

This methodology allows us, through agile, proactive and structured work based on a culture of continuous improvement, to improve the protection of the health of employees, risk control and care for the environment.

It also makes possible to maximize the quality of the products and/or services delivered, which translates into greater excellence and overall profitability.

Which system is the most suitable?

Without a doubt, implementing a GIS always represents a great advantage for any organization. However, if we know in detail the context of each one, we will obtain a greater benefit since it will be possible to choose the one that is most appropriate to its characteristics and organizational needs.

To choose the most appropriate alternative, we must follow the next criteria:

● If the company or organization only wishes to comply with current legislation and improve the occupational health and safety conditions of its collaborators, the option is the HS system.

● On the contrary, if the company require an Integrated Management System that simultaneously covers the areas of Health, Safety, and Environment, the best alternative is an HSE.

● But if it is also necessary to control or optimize Quality Management, the best decision will undoubtedly be to opt for the HSEQ.

Advantages and general benefits

Integrating the various ISO standards inherent in these areas into a common management system is not a complex task. On the contrary, their structures have numerous parameters in common that facilitate this task.

This allows us, consequently, to obtain various benefits for the strategic work of our companies, for example:

● Easily adapt to the legislation on Safety, Occupational Health and Environmental Protection of any country.

● Effectively integrate the ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015, ISO 45001:2018 Standards, as well as Annex SL, to increase the probability of having a successful ISO certification.

● Optimize the control of risks, impacts and opportunities.

● Structure task development and achievement orientation, based on quantifiable management objectives and indicators.

● Guarantee an adequate and efficient management of occupational health.

● Improve the occupational health and safety inspection program, as well as the timely monitoring of the respective risk factors.

● Promote the participation, communication and awareness of employees.

● Optimize the management of accidents, incidents and occupational diseases.

● Plan and give assertive responses to the various emergency plans.

● Carry out a correct follow-up of the tasks carried out, as well as opportunely evaluate legal compliance and focus on continuous improvement.

The importance of digital support

Although having an IMS suitable for the physical and operational characteristics of each company is a transcendental step to ensure the success of its policies on occupational safety, health protection and care for the environment, it is also important to ensure that the applied systems have a support that allows its correct implementation.

In this sense, it is essential to have the help of specialized software that provides an adequate level of automation of tasks, since it ensures a fast and effective implementation of the Management System. For example, having a digital checklist, operated from mobile devices connected to 5G networks, ensures better execution and monitoring of tasks, even in remote areas, which will reduce costs and optimize available resources.

Variables that are also essential to implement an adequate continuous improvement policy.

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About the author

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Francisco Gonzalez

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