Compaq achieves occupational health and safety


March 28, 2001

Compaq Computer Corporation in the USA has achieved registration to the health and safety management system (OHSAS 18001).

The firms' manufacturing facility in Fremont, California, has reduced the number of employee injuries by about 30 percent in less than a year by implementing the new management system.

On March 28 2001, the Fremont facility became the first site within the IT industry in North America to earn registration to an international Occupational Health and Safety standard - OHSAS 18001. The standard requires Compaq to conduct an annual risk assessment, using it as a basis to set goals and then putting policies and procedures in place to address those goals. Compaq took six months to integrate OHSAS 18001 into its existing health and safety program. Then, BSI, Inc., a third-party registrar, audited the system and registered its compliance to the standard.

Based on customer expectations, Compaq already had earned registration to ISO 9002 and ISO 14001, quality and environmental management systems standards, respectively. When OHSAS 18001 was released, the success of ISO 9002 and ISO 14001 made it a natural progression to include health and safety systems.

"It shows that Fremont is a responsible, world-class factory," said Graham Hall, site director for Fremont Demand Fulfillment. "And it says that we're committed to continuously improving our processes for manufacturing quality systems; proactively managing our health and safety programs; and preventing adverse effects in the environment as a result of our business activities."

Implementing OHSAS 18001 has yielded great dividends. For example, Fremont set a goal of reducing employee injuries by 15 percent every year, but in eight months, the manufacturing facility has already reduced the number by twice that amount.

OHSAS 18001, like the ISO standards, is based on the principle of continuous improvement. By combining the standard with Compaq's existing health and safety policies and procedures, the manufacturing facility was able to maximize the quality of the system. OHSAS 18001 also has clearly defined health and safety as everybody's responsibility.

Clive Stallwood, who led the BSI team that audited Compaq, said that the site's registration enhanced staff morale because it provided "a visible commitment" to the 350 employees that the facility is taking their health and safety seriously. A happier work force should increase productivity, said Stallwood, the global development manager for OHS services at BSI. OHSAS 18001 registration also should be a positive sign for customers that a health and safety incident will not disrupt their supply chain, he added.

The Fremont facility was the first BSI client to be registered to the health and safety standard in the Americas and the third Compaq site to earn the achievement. Previously, Compaq sites in Erskine, Scotland, and Galway, Ireland, were registered to OHSAS 18001.

BSI Inc audited the management system for the company's facility in Freemont, California, and awarded the certificate in recognition of its high standard of management of health and safety.

Compaq Computer Corporation reports a number of benefits resulting from its registration:
* Achieved a 30% reduction in employee injuries in 8 months
* Incorporated health and safety into the business process
* A visible commitment to the staff that the company is taking their health and safety seriously

Compaq's Fremont, CA facility produces, assembles and distributes Compaq high-end systems to clients throughout the world. The Fremont facility is about 10 years old. It was originally a Tandem site before Compaq bought its competitor about four years ago, and employs about 350 staff.

Compaq Computer Corporation's worldwide manufacturing sites are striving for OHSAS 18001 registration, with its facility in Fremont, CA, becoming the first of its sites to earn those stripes in the Americas. In 2000, Compaq facilities in Galway, Ireland, and Erskine, Scotland, received registration to the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS). On March 28, 2001, the Fremont plant became the first site in the IT industry in North America to earn registration to the standard that was published in 1999.

In addition to OHSAS 18001, Fremont is registered to ISO 14001 and ISO 9002 - environmental and quality management systems. The facility is following a corporate commitment to sustainability that dates to the company's founding in 1982. Compaq has remained committed to operating its business in a way that is compatible with the environment, promotes the health and safety of its employees, and protects the quality of the communities in which it operates. Compaq has established a corporate EHS policy to incorporate engineering controls and proactive programs to continually improve products and processes in a manner that minimizes impact to the environment.

Based on customer expectations and requirements, Compaq Fremont earned registration to ISO 9002 and ISO 14001. Although the facility did not receive customer inquiries about OHSAS 18001 registration, the site decided to build on the success of those two management systems. Registering an occupational health and safety system was a natural progression for its existing health and safety programs. The real challenge was fully integrating the quality, environmental, health and safety management systems into one system.

In less than a year, Fremont has been able to pinpoint several benefits from OHSAS 18001 registration. For example, Fremont set a goal of reducing employee injuries by 15 percent every year, and in about eight months, the accident rate has decreased by twice that amount - 30 percent.

OHSAS 18001 also has helped to incorporate health and safety into the business process, so that another part of doing business is to consider the health and safety impact of that business. The OHSAS 18001 efforts are driving health and safety into the business so that health and safety is everyone's responsibility.

"Previously, they used to say, 'Oh, there's the safety guy, he'll take care of it,' " said an environmental, health and safety representative at Compaq Fremont. "In today's world, it doesn't work that way. The EHS program manager cannot be in every place at the same time, so we have integrated health and safety into all aspects of the business. And then managers are measured on how they perform. OHSAS 18001 has clearly re-defined the EHS role."

Another major benefit is a boost of staff morale, because it is a visible commitment to the staff that the company is taking their health and safety seriously. The ultimate goal of any health and safety management system is an accident-free work force, and a happier, safer work force is a more-productive work force.

OSHAS 18001 also is a good marketing tool with Compaq's suppliers. Minimizing - or eliminating - accidents means that the supply line won't be disrupted by an incident at the manufacturing plant.

Compaq Fremont was the first BSI client to register to OHSAS 18001 in the Americas. BSI has been Compaq's registrar for its ISO 14001 and ISO 9000 efforts across the globe. "BSI has proven to be a world leader and a first-class company when it comes to third-party registration," a Fremont representative said. "As a global registration leader, BSI brings a vast array of experience to the table", he added. "BSI audits a variety of different industries across a plethora of sectors, helping steer its clients toward best management practices."

BSI provides integrated audits for clients that have implemented a variety of systems, which is an added bonus for Fremont, who are working on having its quality, environmental, health and safety system assessed with one audit.

The foundation of the system is the site policy, which provides the overriding statement or direction and the end goal. Then, the standard requires Fremont to conduct an annual risk assessment, developing health and safety goals to manage the potential risk. The control method involves a combination of policies and procedures, employee training, administrative controls, engineering controls, etc. The site also has developed a way to communicate those controls to the various affected parties. To achieve continuous performance improvement, Fremont monitors the system through internal audits that are conducted every six months and external third-party surveillance audits conducted by BSI every six months.

The bottom line is that Fremont's integrated management system is customer-driven and based on continuous improvement. Tapping into Fremont's existing health and safety program to implement OHSAS 18001, the system is now an integral part of Fremont's business acumen.

The company has already achieved registration to ISO 9002 and ISO 14001 through BSI, and this latest registration demonstrates the company's approach to an Integrated Management System.