Integrated management systems

Annually, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) publises over a thousand new ISO standards. Of ISO standards, the best known are those of the series 9000 – quality management and 14000 – environmental management. There are a lot of ISO standards, targeting various areas and issues and more recently, certifications of occupational health and safety management systems, information security or food safety management systems.

As a result of global economic development, organizations have been exposed to a multitude of risks from both external and internal environment, so that there was need to develop “general benchmarks” in order to implement performance management systems in the areas of quality, environment or occupational health and safety. Currently, reference standards for above management systems above are:

  • ISO 9001 – for quality management systems
  • ISO 14001 – for environmental management systems
  • OHSAS 18001 – occupational health and safety (OHSAS – Occupational Health and Safety Assessement Health)

Adopting integrated management systems based on all three above standards would be the best solution for an organization to prevent the best types of possible risks. Organizations whose fields of activity do not involve high risks in terms of health and safety of employees could find the optimal solution by adopting an integrated quality-environment management.

In the current market economy, quality must be considered the strategic key of goods/services competitiveness on market. Goods and services must simultaneously fulfill two basic conditions: to be useful and profitable. Because performance plays a crucial role in modern organizations, quality should be the main concern of management due to economic and social implications. Implementing a quality management system according to ISO 9001 makes an organization to keep under control its processes, generated confidence in its ability to consistently provide goods/services as specified. In this way the organization relates to its clients, following their quality satisfaction requirements.

Current global issues related to environmental pollution have led to tightening environmental legislation, and increasing of organizations’ interest on environmental performance; before we can talk about environmental management system and performance it must be ensured environmental legislation compliance. For any organization, compliance followed by implementing and maintaining an effective environmental management system means controlling the impact of its activities on the environment. The stated goal of adopting environmental standard 14001 is to support the environment and prevent pollution but in accordance with economic needs.

There are many similarities between quality and environmental standards, but also essential differences. Similarities between 9001 and 14001 are that both standards specify requirements for quality/environmental system certification and they have the same structure: requirements for policy and objectives, system documentation, management responsibilities, resource allocation (financial, human, time, infrastructure and working environment), communication, planning, implementation and operation, checking and improving. The two standards are similar also due to a common principle: continuous improvement.

The essential difference between the two standards is that:

  1. 9001 aims at customer satisfaction (who buys the product / service) and 14001 aims at stakeholders’ satisfaction (group of people interested in the environmental performance of an organization according to ISO 14050);
  2. in the case of 9001 it is targeted the product/ the service wich is “the desired result” of the production activities, activities carried out in a controlled manner; in the case of ISO 14001 there are targeted “the undesirable results” of activities (waste, wastewater, air emissions, noise, radiation etc).

OHSAS 18001 standard is almost identical to ISO 14001; it has the same methodology and general structure, but it takes into consideration workers’ health, therefore implementing such a system in an organization already ISO 14001 certified will be very easy. This standard presents the requirements of a management system that allows organizations to be able to control the health and security risks and to improve management performance.

All three standards promote a systematic approach (management as a system) and continual improvement. In fact, the principle of continuous improvement has been taken from quality management, principle based on PDCA cycle (Plan – Do – Check – Act) by Deming, one of the promoters of quality management. The aim of applying this principle is to identify and then to remove the causes of negative effects on goods/services quality, on environment or employees’ safety.
Integrated management system doesn’t mean only quality-environmental-OHSAS; these three consecrated management systems can be successfully integrated with other systems like energy efficiency, social responsibility, information security or food safety.