The Management System Triumvirate Bringing Quality, Environment, Health, and Safety Standards Together

What is a Management System?

A management system is a set of procedures your organization follows in order to meet its objectives. In many organizations, the system is formalized into a group of documents and actually referred to as "The Management System", "The Quality Management System (QMS)", or similar.


What are the Main Management System Standards?

In order to provide assurance to customers, employees and regulators that an organization is actually meeting its objectives, management systems are usually designed and certified against international standards. The three dominant standards in terms of certification rates make up what we consider to be the Management System Triumvirate:

Standard Name Approx. Worldwide Certificates 1, 2
ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems 1,138K
ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems 324K
OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems 54K

ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 are published by the International Standards Organization, the world's largest publisher of international standards. OHSAS 18001, published by the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series Project Group, is to be incorporated into, and superseded by the new ISO 45001 standard in early 2018.


How do the Management System Standards Relate?

Collectively, the three key standards address the interrelated concerns of quality, environment, health, and safety. Although each standard has its own specific objective, they are all based on the fundamental, common approach of continuous improvement.

Standard Specific Objective Common Approach
ISO 9001 Consistently produce products and services that meet customer's requirements. Continuous Improvement
ISO 14001 Minimize the negative environmental effects of operations.
OHSAS 18001 Minimize occupational health and safety risks.

The standards in and of themselves are complex. It can take years of study and practice to become fully versed. However, the continuous improvement approach that underlies the three standards allows us to apply a common model: Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA). PDCA is a classic model that can be used to analyze and organize our management system efforts.

Check out our article on Plan-Do-Check-Act for more information.


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1 2014 ISO Survey of Management System Standard Certifications
2 2009 OHSAS Certificates Survey Results