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QHSE

By Graphic Products Editorial Staff

Quality, Health, Safety and Environment Management (QHSE) generally refers to a management operation mode which integrates the common elements of the ISO9001, OHSAS18001 and ISO14001 standards. A narrow definition of QHSE points to the management system used by the international oil and gas industry. A broad definition of QHSE refers to quality, health, safety and environment management that is suitable for all types of organizations (Han 2008). In general, QHSE is an organic, systematic and structural dynamic management system, which consists of implementing quality, health, safety, and environmental management by organization, duty, practice, process, procedure, resources and so on, through the use of a prevention guiding ideology, using the PDCA management method.

Establishing a Quality, Health, Safety, Environment (QHSE) management system provides an effective means of protecting employees’ health and safety, as well as the environment, and doing it in a cost-effective and well-planned manner. Based on the understanding that all accidents are the result of human error, and are preventable, establishing QHSE management also results in overall better training and administration methods.

Principles Of QHSE

A number of principles have been recognized as foundational to QHSE. These include:

  • Management must fully support QHSE execution by all employees.
  • All employees must participate, and comply with all QHSE policies, procedures, and rules.
  • Individual employees are responsible for working safely and protecting the environment.
  • Safety comes first; the goal is to eliminate all injuries and environmental incidents.
  • Good practices don't “just happen” – they must be planned and properly executed.
  • The potential for safety, health, or environment incidents should be eliminated during the planning stage.
  • The QHSE system also applies to contractors.
  • QHSE includes all aspects of a company's operation, including areas such as purchasing, transportation, and administrative services.
  • All incidents must be reported, documented, and investigated. This allows performance tracking and continual improvement.
  • Monitoring and assessment should be conducted regularly.

QHSE is based on, and integrates the requirements of the ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OSSAS 18001 international standards.

QHSE - ISO 9001 - Quality Management Systems

ISO 9001 defines quality management by establishing criteria for quality management systems. The ISO 9001 criteria can be used by any type of organization, without regard to size. The objective is to ensure customers consistently receive products and services of good quality. This is accomplished through:

  • a strong customer focus
  • the leadership of top management
  • the process approach (processes managed as a system)
  • continual improvement
  • audits that verify the management system is working

ISO 9001 does not identify specific management practices. However, it creates a framework on which the appropriate management practices can be structured, monitored, and evaluated. To accomplish this, ISO 9001 requires the control of documents, records, and of nonconforming products or services. It also requires internal audits, preventive action, and corrective action. In addition, a quality policy must be in place.

The quality policy is a formal statement from management, closely linked to the business and marketing plan and to customer needs. All employees in the organization must understand and adhere to the quality policy. Each employee needs measurable objectives to work toward.

QHSE - ISO 14001 - Environmental Management Systems

ISO 14001 provides a framework for environmental management. By providing practical tools for identifying and controlling an organization's environmental impact, and for constantly improving environmental performance, ISO 14001 results in an effective environmental management system.

ISO 14001 does not establish requirements for environmental performance. Instead, it creates a framework for the establishment of an effective environmental management system. It provides assurance that environmental impact is being monitored, measured, and improved. Benefits include:

  • Protection of the quality of the environment
  • Reduced cost of waste management and disposal
  • Reduced consumption of energy and raw materials
  • Reduced distribution costs
  • Improved corporate image

QHSE - OHSAS 18001 - Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems

OHSAS 18001 uses the same approach as ISO 14001, but with the objectives of identifying safety and health hazards, reducing the potential for accidents, and creating a safe and healthy working environment. In addition, it provides guidelines for integrating the management of health and safety into the overall business management system.

Some of the requirements of the OHSAS 18001 include:

  • Identifying health and safety risks, and associated legal requirements
  • Understanding the health and safety issues faced by employees, and their potential impacts
  • Establishing health and safety goals and targets
  • Creating a formal health and safety policy
  • Communicating the policy and its implementation to employees
  • Monitoring and auditing the activities that control health and safety risks

Similar to the two ISO standards, OHSAS 18001 requires formal documentation of the occupational health and safety policy, as well as documented evidence that the policy is operating according to the requirements of the standard. Not only must practices ensuring safety be in place, but you must be able to demonstrate compliance with legislation, and demonstrate that the policy mitigates, minimizes, or eliminates risks.

QHSE – Three Standards Combined

Combining these three standards, QHSE requires that the following be done:

  • Establish a written occupational health and safety policy that includes a commitment to continual improvement. It must be fully supported by upper management, and communicated to all affected employees.
  • Establish a system that identifies, evaluates, and requires that action be taken to eliminate, mitigate, or minimize all safety and health hazards.
  • Ensure compliance with all federal, state, county, and local health and safety regulations.
  • Establish a health and safety management system that sets goals, and develops ways for meeting those goals.
  • Monitor, audit, and evaluate the performance of the health and safety program to ensure it is meeting the established goals.

The Role Of Signs and Labels in QHSE

Achieving the health and safety objectives that have been established by QHSE requires communication. This includes:

  • Written policies and procedures
  • Written training requirements, and documentation that each employee completed the appropriate training
  • Documentation of all incidents, and the remedies that were applied
  • The use of signs and labels

Safety signs and labels are required by OSHA, but many other types of signs and labels are needed in order to have an effective QHSE program. Signs and labels visually communicate needed information at the place and time where it is needed. For example, emergency shut-down procedures that are provided by a sign attached to a machine can help ensure that machine is safely shut down.

There are two important principles concerning signs and labels:

  1. They must be durable. A sign or label that fades, falls off, or fails in another way, is not delivering its message.
  2. They must be easy to make. While OSHA required signs usually get put in place when needed (but not always, as recent OSHA citations show), making non-required signs and labels can be put off and forgotten, if making them is time consuming, difficult, or even just inconvenient.

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