When Does an OHS Strategy Become an OHS Management System?

Drug test Kits, Drug Test, Drug Testing, Urine Drug TestOccupational Health and Safety – of which drug and alcohol testing may only be one component part – is often viewed as a tag or an appendage to a workplace rather than part of a systemic approach to profit drives and business. But the development of OHS as a part of a management system is both possible and profitable, and is the way forward for industry. Recent innovations and research into OHS over the past decade in Australia indicate that an OHSMS (Occupational Health and Safety Management System) is more profitable and productive than the older models of OHS and can be implemented effectively with resounding results.[1]

Occupational Health and Safety academic and expert, Clare Gallagher describes an OHSMS as “a combination of planning and review, the management organisational arrangements, the consultative arrangements, and the specific program elements that work together in an integrated way to improve health and safety performance.”[2] The key to this model is the idea of systemic linkages and adequate sequencing between components as well as corrective actions and feedback loops which mean the OHS approach is constantly being monitored, reviewed and fine-tuned to match business developments and organizational changes. She identifies a number of key elements that comprise a successful OHSMS:

Organisation, Responsibility, Accountability

Senior management involvement

Line manager/supervisor duties

Management accountability and performance measurement

Company OHS policy

Consultative Arrangements

Health and safety representatives – a system resource

Issue resolution – HSR/employer-employee reps

Joint OHS committees

Broad employee participation

Specific Program Elements

Health and safety rules and procedures

Training program

Workplace inspections

Incident reporting and investigation

Statement of principles for hazard prevention and control

Data collection and analysis

OHS promotion

Purchasing and design

Emergency procedures

Medical and first aid

Monitoring and evaluation

Dealing with specific hazards and work organisation issues.[3]

Drug and Alcohol testing can be woven into such a systems approach, particularly when this component of the OHSMS is also well integrated into the broader management systems and practices which connect OHS to business planning and quality and best practice management initiatives. Management commitment to the issue coupled with thorough employee consultation in its formulation, development and evolution can be regarded as key components to a testing program, whether conducted within an organisation by organisation staff, or outsourced to a third party concern such as Western Australia’s Mediscreen service operating nationally.

Most importantly, if an OHSMS is to function well and if its drug and alcohol testing component is also to function well, the program must be customized to a specific organisation’s needs. There is no template model that can be replicated. Rather, the approach needs to adapt to the organisation and needs to be developed with support and involvement of all organisation stakeholders. The specific issues regarding technologies used for testing, testing methods and procedures, types of testing etc. will depend on the specific profile of an organisation and its component and interlinked parts.

CMM Technology has adaptable and flexible testing technologies that can fit in with an OHSMS with ease. A number of options such as saliva and urinalysis methods, hand-held breathalysers through to wall-mounted breathalyser models for large industrial through-puts are available. If you are currently reviewing and updating your OHSMS and your drug and alcohol testing procedures, please speak with one of our experts for premium advice. Telephone CMM Technology on 618 9204 2500.


[1] Gallagher C., Underhill E., Rimmer M. Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems:A Review of their Effectiveness in Securing Healthy and Safe Workplaces A report prepared for the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission.  2001

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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