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6.2 OH&S objectives and plans to achieve them
6.2.1 OH&S objectives
An effectively implemented OH&S management system aligns the policies with strategic and management system objectives and provides the framework upon which to translate these objectives into functional targets. The goal-oriented framework allows the goals established at the uppermost levels of the organization to flow down through the integrated management system to influence functional and personal objectives and targets.
Establish and maintain documented OHSMS objectives and targets, at each relevant function and level within the organization. The objectives and targets establish an important link between the policies and the management programmes. The objectives and targets must be consistent with the OHSMS policies. Depending on the size, management structure, and other factors pertaining to your organization, the objectives may be established and reviewed by various personnel and with direct top management input.
Auditors will expect to review a set of interrelated objectives, ensuring that they are mutually consistent and that they are aligned with the strategic direction of your organization. Documented information of objectives typically is in the form of a description or matrix of the objective and corresponding means and timeframe to achieve the objectives.
Objectives can apply to an entire organization, can be site-specific, or can be specific to individual activities. The appropriate level(s) of management personnel should define the objectives and targets. In some cases, personnel who set objectives may not be the same as those who set targets. Remember that the objectives are the overall goals as reflected in the principles established in the policy.
The scope and number of the objectives and targets must be realistic and achievable. Otherwise, the success and continued commitment from top management and employees will diminish. Consider the factors below, as you begin to formulate your objectives:
- Legal and other requirements;
- Significant hazards (hazards directly related to risks);
- Financial, operational, and business requirements;
- Views of interested parties.
Your organization will need to set their health and safety objectives for relevant functions, levels and processes within its OHSMS. It is for your organization to decide which functions, levels and processes are relevant. A key addition is the use of performance indicators to monitor the achievement them.
Performance indicators are defined as a measurable representation of the status of operations, management or conditions. Each objective will need one or more associated indicators. Organizational safety performance indicators might include the following:
- Number of major risk incidents,
- Number of mandatory reports,
- Number of voluntary reports,
- Number of overdue safety report closures,
- Number of safety committee meetings,
- Number of safety briefings;
- Number of safety inspections versus the number planned
- Number of safety audits versus the number planned.
Focus on developing SPIs for what is important to your organization and to measure the effectiveness of your OHSMS and your safety performance. Make sure that everybody knows what the SPIs are and what targets have been set; this will enhance the commitment to safety and make clear what the organization is trying to achieve through your health and safety management system.
These indicators are all easily monitored. You will need to set targets for each, probably on the basis of number of events in the previous 12 months or by calendar year. Mandatory reports indicate things that went wrong, so the target should be 'less than x' or 'reduce by x%'. Voluntary reporting offers an opportunity for improvement, as well as being an indicator of a good safety culture, so the target should be 'more than y', or 'increase by x% per year'.
Good indicators will help you improve safety, while poorly thought out indicators may just waste everybody’s time. Only you can decide if, and what, indicators are applicable and valuable to your organization. Finally, once you have set these targets, be sure to regularly measure your actual performance against them. That will tell you how well you are doing.
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