How to Create an Integrated QHSE Systems Manual

Posted by Craig Thornton

Integrating your QHSE Systems can be a game changer


One thing that QHSE professionals really struggle with is the integration of their compliance systems. 

Instead of one easily-accessed, sustainable system there are bits and pieces lurking in all sorts of places.  Minutes are tucked in filing cabinets.  Policies hide in folders on shelves..  A myriad of spreadsheets contain information on everything from training records to WOFs.

And then there’s all the stuff locked away inside the grey matter of various staff members. All very messy, hugely inefficient and completely unnecessary. 


Benefits of an Integrated QHSE Management System

The thing is, we all know that an integrated QHSE system offers massive benefits.  The list is long and substantive, including things like:

  • Better decision making
  • Less likelihood of overlapping responsibilities
  • Less duplication of effort
  • Creation of objectives and plans that don’t compete against, or contradict, each other
  • Better allocation of available resources
  • Harmonised methods and processes
  • Less documentation
  • Increased awareness and promotion of the interaction and interrelation of QHSE with the company's operational and business processes
  • Consolidation of audit results for all the management systems
  • Gives your governance group (i.e. Board) a clearer indication of risks to the busines

Back to the Future

When I started out in the quality game back in the 1980’s I worked for UEB Industries, a group comprising of some of New Zealand’s largest packaging companies.  I was green.  I knew little about quality, but I really landed on my feet at UEB.  Their manuals were a masterclass in clean, logical writing.  They were so good that they made my Quality Manager’s job easy and made managing the systems a breeze.

Those manuals were the result of the good work and clear thinking by Kevin Lysaght (legendary New Zealand quality professional – sadly now deceased) and John Barr (ex-NZOQ President).   By 1991, with the help from my boss Craig Smith (former CEO of Telarc-SAI), I had documented the Kiwi Packaging systems into an integrated management manual. 

That I use the same format and the same manual structure to describe my client’s systems now – some 25 years later – is testament to their high quality. 

Steps to Document

So with a great deal of indebtedness to Kevin, John and Craig, here is my recipe for documenting an integrated QHSE manual:

  1. Put common processes together into common sections.  All the QHSE systems requirements have common “processes” like policies, responsibilities, organisation structure, objectives, supplier management, corrective and preventive action, training and competency, management review, auditing and document control.  So make your section names the following:
    • Policies
    • Organisation Structure
    • Business Planning, Review and Communication
    • Continuous Improvement
    • Training
    • Document Control
    • Supplier Management
    • Infrastructure
  1. Create sections for your compliance programmes.  For example:
    • Quality
    • Health & Safety
    • Environmental
  1. Place all your common procedures under each section.  So for example Management Review, Internal Auditing and Objectives will sit under the “Business Planning, Review and Communication” section.
  2. Place specific system procedures under the relevant compliance sections.  For example the procedure for Hazard Identification, Assessment & Control will sit under the ‘Health & Safety’ section; and the procedure for Aspects & Impacts will sit under the ‘Environmental’ section.

When we demonstrate this integrated systems format to new clients, their reactions are just the same as mine was back in the day – “wow, that's so obvious - why didn’t I think of that”. 

Needless to say, when new clients sign up to Mango, they usually jump at the chance to use our free integrated management structure and document their systems this way. 

I tip my hat to Kevin and John who created such simple systems back in the early 1980’s. They really were ahead of their time in many ways.  Those systems are still being used by hundreds of companies in New Zealand and Australia.  When I reminded John Barr of this the other day, he said “you have really made my day with what we started in UEB back in 1980”.  You gotta love a happy ending.

N.B. John Barr is the chairman of the board at Mango Limited.

Tags: Integrated Management System, QHSE