Background Safety management system (SMS) can be considered as a key concept in the success of high level of occupational health and safety in the industrial enterprises. However establishing an SMS may only formally lead to excessive bureaucracy, window coupling and additional costs, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises. The paper concentrates on the analysis of relationships between the key elements in safety management and finding solutions to enhance safety level in different types of the industrial companies.
Methods Safety auditing by the MISHA method was used as the main tool to study the current safety level in the manufacturing companies. Additionally, qualitative data from safety interviews were studied and interpreted. During the study in 2014, 24 safety interviews were conducted in 16 Estonian manufacturing companies. The investigated enterprises were first divided into two groups: OHSAS 18001-certified and OHSAS 18001 non-certified. But the latter proved to have a significant difference in the safety level based on its affiliation: corporated enterprises showed better results in the safety activities than locally owned companies.
Results The study showed that the implementation of OHSAS 18001 will not automatically ensure high safety activities in the company. However, holding an OHSAS 18001 certification creates a basis for the systematic work in the area of safety management, hazards identification and prevention, and promotes strong improvement process put in use. The novelty of the paper lies in the conceptual model of the safety management system, that provides the key elements in formal, real and combined safety using qualitative and quantitative processing of audit results.
Conclusions The research revealed that OHSAS 18001 certification contributes strongly to formal safety elements. However – its contribution to the real safety elements was partial, e.g., to such elements as top management commitment to the safety policy, dissemination of safety policy and resources. For many real safety elements strong demands from corporations influence safety activities more than requirements derived from OHSAS 18001 standard, for example suggestions for improvements; general communication procedures; promotion, rewards and career planning and safety knowledge among supervisors, line managers and top managers. Concerning combined elements, many of them – such as workplace hazards analysis, assessments of working environment, evaluation of safety training needs are dependent on OHSAS 18001 certification.
- safety management
- real and combined safety elements
- safety audit
- MISHA method
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