CSA's OHS standards: tools for enhancing business performance

Sep 03, 2013

Success in all directionsAs progressively more complex issues drive organizational performance, businesses are looking at management systems to help them improve workflow and operational efficiencies, facilitate decision-making, stimulate change and growth, and at the same time complement rather than replace existing business processes. CSA standards are one such management resource.

During a wide-ranging presentation at WSPS’s recent Annual General Meeting, CSA Standards president Bonnie Rose spoke about health and safety challenges facing businesses in the current operating climate, how standards can help create an organizational advantage, and innovative steps CSA is taking, including greater stakeholder engagement, to help businesses address these challenges. CSA Standards is part of CSA Group, an independent, not-for-profit, member-based association with three lines of business: standards development, product testing and certification, and consumer product evaluation.

“Let’s face it,” said Rose, “improving occupational health, safety and environmental performance under today’s conditions is neither simple nor straightforward.

“Today’s businesses are dealing with lengthy, unknown supply chains, and suppliers who have questionable or unverifiable OHS processes. This presents a real challenge. Labour mobility is also a concern, and OHS practices need to reach across multiple jurisdictions.

“Competency-building - this too is a challenge, but one that needs to be addressed because OHS performance, as you well know, depends on a whole lot of people following safe practices in hundreds of ways, every day, on every job.

“To all of these challenges,” continued Rose, “I contend that standards present a clear and compelling solution. They are a useful lever for business, and here’s why: standards offer a multi-stakeholder, consensus-driven, rigorous process, one that yields quality guidance and market acceptance. They

  • collect best practices... so they help build competencies, improve efficiency, and lower costs
  • can be easily referenced in procurement policies, introducing a level of confidence in the supply chain
  • are routinely referenced in regulations, providing a direct route to compliance
  • can be national in scope, so users can benefit from cross-jurisdictional efficiencies and practices
  • are results oriented, with an eye to improving performance.

“Bottom line: the use of standards helps improve productivity and performance.”

In the process, said Rose, standards help businesses achieve specific goals, including

  • fewer incidents and lost time
  • fewer injuries
  • protecting property
  • worker engagement
  • environmental protection
  • quality of life.

“We know from the statistics on helmets, industrial footwear, fall protection devices, and many other topics that standards help reduce injuries and save lives. When applied properly, requirements in standards result in fewer incidents and less damage to people and property, which impacts the bottom line.

“In these and many other ways, standards contribute to our quality of life. I will admit that’s a source of pride for me. And it’s what keeps me coming to work every day. I expect the drive to improve performance and improve life is what keeps all of us in the health and safety community coming to work.”

When applied properly, requirements in standards result in few incidents and less damage to people and property, which impacts the bottom line.

Bonnie Rose, CSA Standards

Using standards to generate results

“Many of our management systems standards help ensure that employees are engaged in their workplace, that actions are taken, that results are measured, and that remedies are introduced to continually improve.” This reflects a shift in focus at CSA Standards from prescribing “what to do” and “how to do it” to guiding enlightened leadership teams towards systemic improvements.

“In this way,” said Rose, “standards have become strategic levers of performance. Our standards are being designed to help you shape objectives, take actions, report results, and review and improve, following a Plan, Do, Check, Act management cycle. This makes our standards flexible for use by all organizations, large and small.”

One example is CSA Z1003/BNQ 9700-803, the new Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace standard. The first of its kind in the world, it was developed in collaboration with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and BNQ, a Quebec-based standards developer, and received an overwhelmingly positive response.

CSA offers CSA Z1003/BNQ 9700-803 free of charge as a result of funding from partners and regulators. “This was a novel approach,” said Rose, “but clearly one that met a critical need. The standard was downloaded 10,000 times in the weeks immediately following its public launch.”

In line with CSA’s “how to do it” approach, the standard provides businesses with a continuous improvement framework featuring processes for

  • identifying and eliminating hazards that pose a risk of psychological harm
  • assessing and controlling risks associated with hazards that cannot be eliminated (e.g., stressors due to organizational change or reasonable job demands)
  • implementing structures and practices that support and promote psychological health and safety
  • fostering a culture that promotes psychological health and safety in the workplace.

(Read more about CSA Z1003/BNQ 9700-803, Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace in New psychological H&S standard - plus implementation tools - available at no cost, first published in the November 2012 issue of WSPS Network News.)

How-to approach applied consistently across entire Z1000 series

CSA applies this approach to its entire series of Z1000 occupational health and safety management standards, including CSA Z1000. Published in 2006, Z1000 was Canada’s first consensus-based standard for OHS management. “This standard is not about compliance,” said Rose, “but about managing an overall system to improve OSH performance.”

Since 2006, CSA has released the following related standards:

  • Z1001 – Occupational Health and Safety Training (2013)
  • Z1002 – Hazards and Risks – Identification – assessment – elimination and control (2012)
  • Z1003 – Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (2013)
  • Z1004 – Workplace ergonomics – A management and implementation standard
  • Z1006 – Management of work in confined spaces (2010)
  • Z1007 – Hearing Conservation Program Management Standard (to be published in 2014).

The technical committees behind these standards use a format and language that businesses will be familiar with. And because they build on a managed systems approach - plan, do, check, act - they can be integrated into existing workplace systems in manageable steps.

CSA offers a similar series of standards for managing environmental issues.

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