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Integrated SHEQ Management Systems Explained.

By Koos Gouws 

I have found during my time as a management consultant helping organizations to design and implement management systems, including SHEQ management systems, that there seems to be some confusion regarding integrated management systems.
To make matters even worse, some organizations implement only 1 or 2 of the sections of an integrated management system, either with the idea to add the rest later, or to deliberately ignore them. We often see organizations implement what is known as a SHE management system, which incorporates only 2 of the 3 sections of an integrated SHEQ management.
A good place for us to start is to see what SHEQ management actually means. There are a variety of management system standards which are published by the International Standards Organization (ISO) to help organizations to implement management systems. These standards contain the requirements for the systems, and they address different aspects of management. The nett result is that, even though each standard contains requirements which are unique to the standard, there is also overlapping requirements. The basic 3 management systems are:

                 · Safety and Health management systems, with its requirements currently described in OHSAS 18001:2007.
                 · Environmental management systems, with its requirements currently described in ISO 14001:2004.
                 · Quality management systems, with its requirements currently described in ISO 9001:2008.

Other management systems exist which replaces ISO 9001 in certain industry sectors, e.g. ISO 22001 for the food industry sector, ISO 13485 for the medical device industry sector, etc. These standards use ISO 9001 as a base standard, and then add requirements for regulatory purposes and product safety.
The term SHEQ is merely an acronym for the 3 basic management standards, SH for safety and health, E for environment and Q for Quality.
It is important to note that while there is no legal requirement for the implementation of a quality management system (although a lot of customers now demand it), there are legal requirements for environmental management and safety and health management. The legislation does, however, not imply that the standards mentioned here must be used. It merely requires compliance with the legal requirements of the country in which the legal requirements are valid. In South Africa we have the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Mine Heath and Safety Act, as well as a variety of Environmental Acts, such as the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), as well as other environmental legislation, which are controlled by various government departments. Regulations, regional legislation and bylaws must also be complied with. Organizations often ignore some of the legal requirements, simply because it is often not policed very well by governments. Compliance with the standards makes compliance with the legal requirements much easier.
ISO has realized that the implementation of 3 management systems in any organization may prove problematic. It is not possible to have 3 different management systems, each acting in isolation. It will lead to confusion amongst managers as well as workers. Silo management is not a good thing in an organization.
The solution lies in integrating the management systems into 1 single SHEQ management system. The standards are written in such a way that it will be possible to integrate. ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 have been completely aligned with each other, while ISO 9001 uses a different structure, but can still be easily integrated with the other 2 standards.
Integration is possible because the 3 standards each contain certain clauses which are specific to its area of application, but also many other clauses which are common between all 3 standards. The specific areas of application are:
· ISO 9001: Quality management to ensure customer satisfaction. The focus is on compliance with customer needs and requirements. It applies to how we are doing business to ensure the profitability and survival of our organizations.
· ISO 14001: Environmental management to limit adverse effects on the environment and to promote sustainability. It includes the living environment, the non-living environment as well as the man-made environment. 
 · OHSAS 18001: Health and safety management within the organization to protect the health and safety of the workers as well as the public.
 Common requirements include the following:
                 · Management review
                 · Corrective and preventive action systems
                 · Document control
                 · Internal audits
                 · Compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements
                 · Training requirements
                 · Calibration of monitoring and measuring devices
                 · Etc.
An important benefit of integration of the management systems into a single SHEQ management system is that it avoids the possibility of 1 management system being regarded as "more important" than the others by top management. The integrated system regards each component as equally important in the eyes of management. It has the effect that management can be fair in its allocation of resources and funds.
SHEQ practitioners and aspiring SHEQ managers often ask me if they can attend a SHEQ management course that will enable them to design and implement SHEQ management systems, or to be qualified to be appointed as SHEQ managers in their organizations. Unless the candidate has a lot of time and can attend courses stretching over longer time periods, it is not possible to run a 3 to 5 day course that will impart enough knowledge for a candidate to become "qualified". It is also important to remember that training alone will not make a person qualified. Nothing can replace experience. 
It is strongly recommended that candidates attend at least 4 separate courses. The 1st 3 will deal with the requirements and implementation of each of the standards, and should range from at least 3 days each to about 5 days each or more, depending on the previous knowledge of the candidate. These courses will give the candidate sufficient knowledge to get hands-on involved in SHEQ management, and to gain enough practical experience and knowledge to progress to SHEQ management in time. Formal, longer term training is available from tertiary institutions, which provides much more in-depth knowledge. The 4th training requirement is an internal auditors training course. This should only be attempted once the candidate has at least basic knowledge of the requirements of the standards, and can be an integrated SHEQ Auditor course which will concentrate on the audit process, auditing techniques and audit reporting. Training on internal auditing should also include the requirement of ISO 19011, the standard for auditors. Other standards for auditing specific components of the SHEQ management system should also be included. Communication should be included, as well as the requirements for auditors, and a practical session is always a good idea. Practical sessions could consist of role play, using real case studies, or practical auditing in an organization.
It is important to note that the attendance of courses does not make a person a SHEQ manager. Further study of the standards and a lot of experience is required. Use all available means, including exchanging knowledge with other SHEQ practitioners.
In closing, I would like to graphically illustrate how an integrated SHEQ Management System can be implemented in an organization to ensure that there will only be 1 management system, while protecting the area of application of each of the standards. (In some cases we find 4 management systems, 1 for each standard, and 1 for the way things are really managed inside the organization! The "real" system often has very little to with the other management systems).

As can be seen, the vision and mission of the organization does not change. They may be expanded to make provision for all 3 systems. The policies, objectives, targets and programs support the vision and mission statements of the organization. These can be combined in 1 policy statement and 1 set of objectives and targets, or could be separate documents. It depends on the organization. Resources and processes are then put into place to achieve the objectives of the organization, and to fulfill the requirements of the implemented SHEQ management system. Management conducts periodic system reviews to evaluate the continued suitability of the system, and makes changes where necessary to improve or correct the functioning of the system.

 I trust that this article makes the concept of intergrated SHEQ management clearer, especially to more inexperienced SHEQ practitioners, as well as to top management. Our organization, SHEQ Management Systems, can provide the required training and we also specilize in consulting to organizations regarding the design and implementation of such systems. Remember that each company must design its own SHEQ management system, based on the requirements of the standards. No 2 organizations are the same, even if they are in the same industry sector. One can never "buy" a system from anybody, it is guaranteed not to work.

"Trying the Impossible,
Using the Remarkable
Obtain the Unobtainable"


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Somerset West
Cape Town. South Africa

Email: Koos
Phone: +27 (0) 83 306 1757

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