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Home      SHEQ/ISO ... confused?
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Occupational Health and Safety Management / Environmental Management / Quality Management
ISO 9001 certfication / ISO 14001 certification / OHSAS 18001 cerification
Legal Compliance / SHEQ Systems / SHEQ Training / SHEQ Consulting / SHEQ Auditing


SHEQ is an altered abbreviation or acronym for three business principles, namely Safety & Health Management, Environmental Management and Quality Management.  These three disciplines are not always implemented all at once.  Some companies, especially those in the service industry, may only implement a Quality Management System, shortly referred to as a QMS.  Other companies may decide that due to the nature of their business - like mines - they only want to implement a SHE system.  This means they have combined Health & Safety and Environmental management.  Most companies, however, have found that the principles of a Quality Management System support the other two systems in such a manner that a full SHEQ system can be implemented with great success.  Traditionally, this was referred to an IQMS - INTEGRATED Quality Management System.  Over the years, business professionals and SHEQ specialists have found that it can never really be an integrated system (due to underlying differences) and now rather refer to it as a COMBINED Quality Management System.

But, one must first understand that SHEQ is a business principle or even a Management System, similar to many other types of Management Systems that companies put in place to ensure the smooth running of their organization.  Other types of Management Systems are for example the company's Budgeting process, the way in which Human Resources are managed or the way in which Sales & Marketing are driven in the company.  For this reason, most of your medium to large companies have an actual SHEQ Department or Division with their own Manager and staff, similar to Sales & Marketing, Human Resources, etc.

We have found that certain companies include Risk Management into their SHEQ Management system and then refer to this as their SHERQ department or division.  The Risk element here refers to risks that the company faces on a daily basis.  Examples can be numerous and far-reaching risks such as the effect of new legislation, the introduction of new products in their markets, the effect of strike action or even disaster recovery, for example an incident like 9-11 in the USA.  A lot of companies we have dealt with keep the Risk component separate, as it is slightly different to SHEQ mainly because it is more of a financial nature.  These risks normally impact companies' bottom lines and are thus managed by a separate department/division than SHEQ.  Here it is normally referred to as the Risk Management Division, which is separate to the SHEQ Division.  However, there is no right or wrong approach.  As long as Risk is also attended to in a similar manner as SHEQ is approached.


ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization and is an international body consisting of several member countries that jointly define international benchmarks or standards.  The three we are most concerned with are ISO9001:  2008, ISO14001:  2004 & OHSAS18001:  2007.  For our discussion, OHSAS18001 is similar to ISO18001.  (OHSAS = Occupational Health & Safety Assessment Series).

ISO9001:2008 is the latest edition/version of the international QUALITY standard, ISO14001 is for Environmental and OHSAS18001 is for Health & Safety.

If a company wants to demonstrate that its quality (products/services/operations) is on an international standard and as good as any other international organization, it will endeavour to get certified for ISO9001.  What does this mean?  It simply means that a company who is certified in ISO9001 delivers products and/or services that are as good as any other national or international company that carries the ISO9001 logo.

So, how does SHEQ and ISO inter-relate, if at all?  Most companies that want to have ISO certification, will put elements of SHEQ in place to assist them to comply with the REQUIREMENTS of the international ISO standard.  The word REQUIREMENTS is important in that the ISO standard will explain to the prospective company what minimum requirements this company must comply to or adhere to in order to be certified in a particular international standard.

There are of course a number of companies that are not certified in any of the ISO standards, but that still have a SHEQ department.  This is not uncommon.  These companies - as a rule of thumb - simply want to employ the SHEQ principles in their daily operations, but are not interested in the ISO certification.  A common reason for this is (sometimes) the cost of getting certified.  Sometimes companies must employ additional staff or contract consultants to assist them with the certification process and this has a financial impact.  ACCUSPEED, however, has adopted a process that does not have to cost companies an enormous amount of money.  You can read more about this in our VALUE PROPOSITION section.
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