You’ve been assigned the role of management representative. Congratulations! Now what do you do?

The Quality, Environmental and OHS standards all require the appointment of a management representative. This position may be full-time or part-time depending on the size of the organisation and the risks involved. They are often called the Quality Manager, Environmental Manager, OHS Manager, Health, Safety & Environment (HSE) Manager, Health, Safety, Environment & Quality (HSEQ) Manager, Integrated Management System (IMS) Manager, and the list goes on.

ISO 9001:2008 states –

Top management shall appoint a member of the organization’s management who, irrespective of other responsibilities, shall have responsibility and authority that includes:
a) ensuring that processes needed for the quality management system are established, implemented and maintained,
b) reporting to top management on the performance of the quality management system and any need for improvement, and
c) ensuring the promotion of awareness of customer requirements throughout the organization.
NOTE: The responsibility of a management representative can include liaison with external parties on matters relating to the quality management system.

ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Requirements, AS/NZS 4801 and OHSAS 18001 for OHS Management Systems all contain a clause like this one. The wording differs a little but the intent is the same. Lets have a look at the above clause, bit by bit.

As the Management Representative you’re responsible for determining which processes in your organisation are relevant to the Standard/s you wish to be certified to (to work this out read the rest of the Standard – it tells you albeit in typical “Standardese”). Once you’ve got your list you need to define them. This can be done through the typical written procedure, process maps, flow charts, diagrams, drawings, photos, videos, audio tapes . . . . . The Standards use the phrase A documented procedure shall be established to . . . when you have to document the process.

Once defined, and by the way this doesn’t mean you write all the documents (it encourages commitment to spread the joy around!), you need to ensure that they are implemented, that is that people actually follow them. This is the hard bit. This is where you’ll need to use all the people and change management skills you can muster.

Once implemented you need to maintain them. In other words you need to ensure that they are kept up-to-date. The products and services offered by your organisation may change, its structure may change, and people may find better ways of doing things. This will necessitate changes to your management system. This is where internal audits become very helpful because they help you in determining what has changed.

If the management system you are implementing is to receive support from senior management then they need to know what is going on. You can communicate this by reporting on the results of internal audits, corrective actions that are taking too long to be implemented, OHS measurements (e.g. number of incidents and near misses) and progress towards environmental targets (e.g. a $15,000 reduction in energy usage). Management review meetings are often the best forum in which to report progress. Just keep it succinct, use graphs where relevant, and express it in dollars whenever you can.

Now this requirement is often criticised as being a bit vague. Basically, the Management Representative is responsible for ensuring that there are processes in place to:
Quality: determine customer requirements, meet these requirements and access customer satisfaction.
OHS: staff understand their OHS responsibilities, hazards and controls.
Environment: staff understand the environmental impacts and controls they are working with.
Ways of achieving this are through documenting processes, training and communication methods such as newsletters, emails, meetings, videos, bulletins, wall posters, graphs, charts . . . .
As the Management Representative you are NOT responsible for communicating all of this but you are responsible for ensuring it happens and is effective.

As the Management Representative you play a critical role on the success of your organisation’s management system. The more clearly you understand your responsibilities and the more clearly the rest of the organisation understands your role the more effective you can be.

If you’d like some guidance or need a sounding board please email me at Alternatively, visit my website where you’ll find my Top 5 Essential Tips and free ISO 9001 procedures.