Everything you need to know about WHS management systems

We offer many services at ARK Consulting, however, one of our favourite types of work is developing management systems! But what exactly is a management system? And why do businesses need one?
We are often asked these questions, and it is surprising how many people turn around and say “that’s exactly what we need!” So, for those of you who are still wondering, please read on!
What is a ‘Management System’?

A management system is a framework that is designed to ensure that an organisation fulfills the tasks required to meet its objectives and requirements. It can include policies, manuals, procedures, processes, and tools that describe how the business plans, delivers, and improves its outcomes. Management systems are often designed to cover specific types of requirements such as work health and safety (WHS), quality, or environmental management.

A management system is specific to a business and needs to be fit for purpose. For example, the industry that your business works in may have specific requirements or risks that need to be addressed. Examples include working in industries such as rail, taxi and rideshare or construction. In each of these industries, workers require an understanding of the environment they are working in, the rules that apply and their responsibilities.

What are the benefits of having a Management System?

The key benefits of implementing a management system are:

  • Helping to educate workers on how work must be done and how issues are managed.
  • Efficiency – People don’t need to choose their own adventure when deciding how to achieve an outcome.
  • Providing a means to manage risk and enhance best practice.
  • Reducing costs (by preventing accidents and improving efficiency).
  • Assisting a business in assigning limited resources to the most critical areas
  • A reliable system can boost public image helping a business to become a preferred supplier.
  • Assisting in meeting legal obligations (safety, environmental etc.)
Does every business need a documented management system?

Absolutely not! Some very small businesses can meet their legal and other requirements without the need of a formal documented system. However, once you have a larger team, work across multiple locations, engage contractors to work on your behalf (the list goes on and on), it becomes much more challenging to ensure that your business is working consistently, and legal requirements are being met. This is where a formal system with additional tools such as risk registers, checklists, and templates are helpful.

The system can be designed around a specific area – such as health and safety or environment, or you can have one that combines several areas into an Integrated Management System (IMS).

Why do businesses engage consultants?

As consultants, we usually get involved when there is a need to meet specific and detailed regulatory, legal or other requirements. At ARK we have even helped regulators determine and write their requirements which puts us in a great position to help businesses fulfill those obligations.

Legal requirements can be difficult to interpret and even more difficult to fulfill when your workforce is spread out and busy doing what they need to do to keep a business running. We aim to make things easier by developing procedures and tools (think forms and templates) to take the guesswork out of meeting those requirements so that you can get on with your work.

We often integrate many requirements into one system (our specialty!). These types of systems are called Integrated Management Systems (IMS)- but that is a whole other topic! Let us know if you want to hear more about IMSs in our next blog.