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Compliance with Legal and Other Requirements

Focus: Health and Safety – Prevention of Injury and Ill Health

Compliance with applicable occupational health and safety legislation, regulations, guidelines, and policies is a permanent objective of the organization to ensure that adequate systems, practices, and controls are in place.

Countries vary in their approaches to occupational health and safety legislation and regulations, along with their enforcement and incentives to be in compliance.

In the European Union, some countries promote occupational health and safety by providing public monies as subsides, grants, or financing and have created tax system incentives.

In the United States, since the 1970s, OSHA, in the U.S. Department of Labor, is responsible for developing and enforcing workplace health and safety regulations, whereas the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) focuses on research, information, education, and training.

In Canada, since 1996 workers have been covered by federal and provincial codes, depending on the sectors they work in. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) is an agency of the Canadian government that focuses on promoting safe and healthy workplaces to help prevent work-related injuries and illnesses.

It has only been since 2002 that regulations were put in place in the People's Republic of China, under the Ministry of Health and the State Administration of Work Safety. India also is a country where huge opportunities to utilize the economical workforce for manufacturing are available for companies.

Argentina, China, Finland, Malaysia, Portugal, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam have established national OSH programs, with prevention of occupational diseases as a priority, and Lao PDR, Papua New Guinea, and South Africa have taken further steps by including prevention of occupational diseases in their national OSH policies and programs, as reported by the ILO.

The ILO has provided assistance in shaping and updating national lists of occupational diseases to governments, employers, and worker's organizations through advisory and consultation services. It sees the road ahead with a focus on prevention and treatment of occupational diseases, as well as the improvement of recording.

In addition to existing hazards, new hazards are emerging, driven by both technological and social changes and by the global economic crisis. Millions of workers are exposed to hazardous working conditions without recourse to any system of protection, and therefore prevention is key and more effective than treatment and rehabilitation. The future may bring the integration of prevention of occupational diseases into labor inspection programs for mining, construction, and agriculture.

In emerging countries growth rates are high and populations are dense, and therefore low-cost, low-knowledge workers are available. These countries bear a large percentage of the burden of occupational disease and injury. There is no single authority or mechanism in place for ensuring reporting of spills and accidents and no penalty for non- compliance. Their regulations in many industries are not evolved or detailed and do not require inspections or monitoring systems.

It is the CEOs, presidents, and leaders of global organizations who need to recognize OHS as a strategic enabler of sustained economic growth in these countries, given that legal requirements are not in place. What does the company value? Business performance is not measured with respect to health and safety; however, a safe work environment may go a long way to increase the productivity of employees in these countries.

If health and safety is a core value of a company, then it should contribute to the functioning of the entire organization and not be changed or compromised when working in emerging countries. All workers within the organization need to work in a safe environment.

Some of the laws we take for granted are not required in other countries, such as wearing safety hats and seat belts and using personal protective wear when handling chemicals and hazardous materials.

A management system adhering to OHSAS 18001 requires companies not only to identify their legal and other requirements but also to define the applicable tasks tied to the requirements. To verify that a company is following its legal requirements, it must perform a compliance audit. In some companies compliance internal audits are conducted by the head office; in other companies this activity is contracted out to third-party auditors.

In North America, health and safety is supported by inspections and fines that could put smaller companies out of business, ranging from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

With the Internet, Facebook,YouTube, and the ease of taking videos with phones, evidence related to accidents and incidents is easily documented and displayed immediately, and companies need preventative measures in place to ensure legal requirements are followed.


Focus: Health and Safety – Prevention of Injury and Ill Health

1 Has the organization identified its legal and other occupational health and safety obligations and associated tasks?

2 What “other” requirements does the organization need to be in compliance with besides the regulatory requirements (industry codes of practice, union agreements, temporary work agreements, etc.)? Has your organization outlined the tasks tied to these requirements? Are the requirements included in the compliance review or audit?

3 Has your organization outlined allocation of responsibilities for senior managers, managers, supervisors, employees, contractors, visitors, and occupational health and safety committees?

4 Do you have designated individual(s) to handle legal requirements in your organization? How often do they report to top management?

5 What education/promotion/awareness is provided for managers, supervisors, employees, and others about the importance of compliance with specific legislation and legal requirements and the risks of noncompliance?

6 What were the results of your last occupational health and safety compliance review or audit? Was it done by outside resources?

7 Do you have a monitoring and reporting mechanism to provide information to appropriate managers regarding noncompliance and corrective action? Do you have a separate system for reporting compliance issues or do you manage all your nonconformances within one process area with categories for nonconformances?

8 Have government officials visited your facility? When? What were the results of this visit? Was it documented?

9 Does your organization perform business in countries where there are no regulations for occupational health and safety? What is your policy regarding those countries?

10 How has your organization contributed in emerging countries to improving occupational health and safety for workers?

11 What hazardous conditions exist in countries presently where you are carrying on business? How is this documented and controlled for the workers who report to your organization?

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