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THE GSES system

Health and Safety

The GSE-Standard Health & Safety (HS) pillar is based on the international standard ISO 45001:2018 ‘Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements with guidance for use’.

An organization is responsible for creating safe and healthy working conditions for its employees – and for others who may be affected by a company’s activities. This responsibility includes promoting and protecting physical and mental health.

The introduction of a management system for safe and healthy working conditions aims to prevent work-related injuries and health problems and continuously improve its Health & Safety performance.

The Health & Safety pillar of GSE-Standard also integrates aspects of health and safety as employee welfare. The pillar does not address topics such as product safety, material damage or environmental impact – aside from the health and safety risks these topics might expose employees and relevant stakeholders to.

By working on the Health & Safety Pillar of GSE-Standard, the organization can contribute to the realization of the following SDGs: 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 17.

HS Pillar content

The H&S Pillar checks context analysis in the same way as the other pillars:

  • Issues (both internal and external) related to H&S and the value chain need to be analysed.
  • The organization should identify the stakeholders who are directly or indirectly involved.
  • After the context and stakeholder analysis, H&S specific risks and opportunities should be addressed

Examples of external issues for HS include:

  • the cultural, social, political, legal, financial, technological, economic and natural environment;
  • the market competition, whether international, national, regional or local;
  • the introduction of new (sub)contractors, suppliers, partners and providers and of new technologies, legislation and professions;
  • the introduction of new knowledge of products and their impact on health and safety.

Examples of internal issues for HS include:

  • the introduction of new products, materials, services, tools, software, spaces and equipment;
  • the culture in the organization;
  • the form and scope of contractual relationships, including outsourced activities;
  • (changing) working time arrangements and working conditions;

The organization is advised to set up, implement and maintain a Health & Safety system for consultation and participation of employees at all applicable levels and in all applicable functions. This system must also involve employee representatives in the phases of development, planning, implementation, evaluation performance, and improvement process of the (management) system.

Employee consultation implies two-way communication that involves dialogue and exchange. Consultation involves providing the information necessary for employees in a timely manner. It is recognized that providing free training for employees and training during working hours can, where possible, remove important barriers to employee participation.

In addition to consulting employees, the following stakeholders may be relevant to consult in the Health & Safety system:

  • Legislative and regulatory authorities (local, regional, state/provincial, national or international);
  • Parent organizations;
  • Suppliers, contractors and subcontractors;
  • Employee- and employers organizations/unions;
  • Owners, shareholders, clients, visitors, the local community and general public;
  • Customers, medical and other community services, media, science, business associations and NGOs;
  • Health and safety organizations and healthcare professionals.

The organization has made an inventory of the H&S risks and opportunities (E.g. on aspects such as: physical, chemical, biological, psychosocial, mechanical, electrical, movement, energy) for:

  • employees
  • subcontractors
  • temporary workers
  • apprentices
  • other internals who are involved
  • the environment

The management must demonstrate leadership and involvement with regard to the Health & Safety (management) system for consultation and participation by:

  • Taking overall responsibility and declaring themselves fully accountable for the prevention of work-related injuries and health problems, as well as providing safe and healthy workplaces and activities.
  • Ensuring that the responsibilities and powers for relevant roles within a Health & Safety (management) system are assigned and are communicated at all levels of the organization.

According to this standard, a company’s policy must include policies and objectives for H&S, and:

  • a H&S management system
  • concrete targets for H&S
  • H&S performance indicators (KPIs), in order to manage the H&S SMART objectives

In the H&S Pillar, checkpoints related to support for carrying out the H&S policy are:

  • mechanisms, time, training and resources for employee consultation and participation
  • offering employees timely access to clear, comprehensible, relevant information about H&S
  • consulting non-managerial employees when establishing the H&S policy
  • obstacles and barriers to employee participation are identified, removed or minimised
  • non-managerial employees are involved in establishing competence requirements, training needs, training and evaluating training
  • offering timely access to clear, comprehensible and relevant information about H&S to the other stakeholders

Next to consulting and involving employees in a structured manner, organizations are checked concerning their inventory of:

  • the information on tools, machines, systems that can promote safety
  • potential emergency situations (unplanned or unscheduled situations) that require an immediate response
  • opportunities for improving H&S-related performance for employees, contractors, temporary employees and other internal stakeholders
  • opportunities for improving H&S-related performance for the environment
  • legal and other requirements applicable to its hazards and H&S risks (including opportunities)

Furthermore, support for H&S consists of:

  • Clear responsibilities and competencies for relevant roles within a H&S management system
  • specific H&S-related tools in order to better integrate H&S in processes and projects.

For H&S in the operation, this pillar looks at fostering awareness and support among employees with regard to H&S and regular communication about H&S with external parties.

The pillar also looks at proactively dealing with H&S hazards through:

  • constantly identifying (new) H&S hazards
  • focusing on hazards related to social factors
  • design control measures or reorganization of work to eliminate hazards
  • provision of free personal protective equipment (PPE) and instructions for the use and maintenance of the PPE
  • contingency plans and training for emergency situations
  • periodic exercises and/or tests to simulate potential emergency situations

The GSES system checks if performance is measured, monitored and assessed with quantitative targets, if this assessment is audited and if the organization draws conclusions from the assessment and works towards continuous improvement.

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