Implementing occupational health and safety (OHS) measures might be the right thing to do, but stakeholders are also a significant motivating factor, according to a press release reporting on Kathy Seabrook’s CSP, CMIOSH (UK) recent East Carolina University webinar to a graduate-level Applied Safety Management class.

In fact, stakeholders (including direct consumers and customers along a supply chains) are influencing corporation implementation and reporting on OHS performance by insisting on transparent management of workplace safety and health within their organizations, according to Seabrook.

Seabrook cited the classic case of general consumer and investor uproar over a Nike supplier’s use of child labor and poor working conditions for its workers in the 1990s and the damage it caused the sports apparel manufacturer’s reputation to underscored the importance of developing and implementing sustainable Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems OHSMS).

Seabrook explained that integrated, sustainable Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems processes – not one-time improvement programs – with full support from company leadership are crucial to improving workplace safety and health performance. In addition, fully understanding business risk not just to reputation, but governance, financial, environmental, operational and other aspects that affect the overall success of an organization are also critical to successful workplace safety and health management.

“The purpose of a system is to incorporate feedback from all aspects of the business and continuously improve management processes to eliminate deficiencies, waste, hazards and risks that lead to injury, illness and fatalities,” Seabrook explained.

She also stated that implementation of a formal OHSM system can often be market-driven, as in the Nike case above, and workplace safety and health are considered by many companies to be integral to their strategic corporate social responsibility and sustainability performance and as a platform for future growth.

After an overview of the similarities and differences of standards used in the U.S., Canada, Europe and other international locations, Seabrook delved into the details of ANSI Z10, a consensus standard developed five years ago by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to specifically address occupational health and safety management in the context of the nuances of the American regulatory and legal environment and OHSAS 18001, developed in the UK and currently seen as the default international OHSMS standard.

“Companies need to assess the business value of certification – whether it’s ANSI Z10 or OHSAS 18001 – before investing its time and resources. In some cases, large companies demand certification to OHSAS 18001 from their supply chain or their stakeholders, which drives the decision-making process,” said Seabrook. “A survey done by the American Industrial Hygiene Association in 2008 also found that many companies who purchased the ANSI Z10 standard use it as a template for their own health and safety systems rather than for third party verification/certification.”