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How much does the OHSAS 18001 implementation cost?

The cost of OHSAS 18001 implementation comes up as a question very early in deciding whether to engage in the project or not; and, very often, this is the main drawback because it is very hard to make a precise estimate at the beginning of the project.

There are lots of elements to be assessed when determining the cost of the implementation, and it is a great challenge to determine the cost precisely at the beginning of the project. The more you know about the requirements of the standard, the easier it will be to determine the cost. This article will discuss the main elements of OHSAS 18001 implementation costs and help you make your budget for the project.

What can affect the cost?

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The cost of the implementation will depend on many different sources, i.e., kinds of costs. Depending on the implementation options you choose, they could be significantly different. Also, a great influence on the cost will come from the size of the organization, the complexity of its processes, and the level of occupational health and safety controls already present in the work places.

So, let’s find out what kinds of costs (and their origins, i.e., how they are incurred) there are, to understand better what causes the implementation costs to vary.

Although I can’t give you a number or exact cost of the OHSAS 18001 implementation in your company, here are the elements that will influence it:

Acquiring know-how – The most important thing to be gained during the implementation project is the knowledge necessary not only for the implementation, but also for later maintenance of the OH&SMS (Occupational Health & Safety Management System). Your employees, or at least the ones involved in the implementation, will have to attend training and read some relevant literature. The cost of the training can be very high, but if you do a little research, you can find some more cost-effective online courses that can meet your needs, and yet save your money. You’ll find the same situation with books.

External help – The training itself won’t be enough – in most cases, you will need some extra help to keep the project running. If you cannot rely on the experience of your employees in OHSAS 18001 implementation, you’ll need some external help to bridge the gaps in knowledge. The help can come from consultants and other sources. In this day and age, online solutions are getting more and more popular because of their lower cost and easier accessibility. The greatest value of using professional help is that you won’t get stuck with the implementation project – spending a great amount of time doing activities that won’t move you forward, or developing tons of documentation that neither the standard requires nor your company needs.

However, be careful here – do not expect the consultant or online solution to do the entire implementation for you – OHSAS 18001 can be implemented by your employees only.

Cost of your employees – This is a cost that is often hidden, because companies are already paying their employees and they rarely see the employees’ time as additional cost in this kind of project. The fact is that the employees will be dealing with the implementation activities rather than doing their regular assignments, and this is usually overlooked when determining the costs of the implementation. What you want to avoid is to pay someone a manager’s or engineer’s salary for determining what documents are mandatory for OHSAS 18001. This is the main reason why you need to balance external and internal human resources in the project.

Cost of the OH&S controls – Implementing controls is the ultimate objective of the OH&SMS and depending on the types of controls necessary, the cost can have significant variations. The amount of investment will depend on the legal requirements primarily, but also on the level of the controls already implemented; for example, if the legislation requires personal protective equipment and you already provided it to your employees, you wouldn’t have this as an additional cost.

Certification costs – Passing the certification audit is the grand finale of the project. The certificate proves that you managed to implement the standard successfully, and your future efforts should be towards the improvements. The cost of certification will depend primarily on the number of employees you’ve got and the number of locations you covered with the OH&SMS scope (read the article How to determine scope of the OH&SMS to learn more). One of the options for cutting the costs is to shrink the scope to a couple of the most important locations and later to widen the scope, but that is not always possible. Another very important factor is the certification body you choose; some more prominent certification bodies have higher prices than their competitors, and it is up to you to decide whether you need a certification body that is recognized worldwide, or if you can go with the local one.

Maintaining the system – This, of course, is not an implementation cost, but it also needs to be considered when implementing the standard. Once you pass the certification audit, you will have surveillance audits for the next three years, and then you will have the recertification audit again. The cost of the surveillance and recertification audits are often smaller than the certification audits, but that is not always the case, so when talking with the certification body, make sure you find out how much those audits cost. Other than that, you wouldn’t have any additional costs other than your employees’ time spent on activities required by the standard.

Making a good estimate is the key to success

In a few words – be careful! The last thing you need is to get in the middle of the project and realize you don’t have enough resources to finish it. Hidden costs can sink you project, and the only way to prevent them is to conduct a thorough analysis, have appropriate discussions, and find the best possible solutions that will help you manage the costs.

Good preparation is the key for success. Try to get as much information as possible about the requirements of the standard and the steps in the implementation, as well as the options for the implementation, to choose the best solution for your company and your implementation project.

Use this free  Project proposal for OHSAS 18001 Implementation to learn how to present your OHSAS 18001 implementation project to your top management.

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