The Similarities Between Health, Safety, Security Environment and Quality



This article will explain how the systems of management of Health, Safety, Security, Environment are based on the same processes and how the synergies of approaching these in the same manner as determined by your quality system can reduce your operational, labour costs, monitoring costs and reduced exposure to loss.

Health, Safety, Security and Environmental management are well-developed disciplines and while there specialist roles and expertise in each, over all they are based on risk management. Marketing campaigns, territory guarding, misunderstandings, misinterpretations and the separation of the disciplines across regulatory bodies (Tooma 2011) have lead these to approached separately which can result in an unnecessary labour costs, reduced operational efficiency and increased monitoring costs

Risk is defined as

Health and Safety


Health and Safety systems and management is aimed at the control of hazards by eliminating or minimisation of risks. It is arguably the most recognised and often the most maligned and misinterpreted management field of the three.

A hazard is a source or situation with the potential for an incident such as an unplanned event which results in, or has the potential for harm in terms of human injury, ill health, damage to property, damage to the environment, loss or a combination of these. Risk the likelihood and consequence of injury or harm occurring as a result of a hazard (Standards Australia 2001).

Hazards exist in all areas of business and life however the risk posed by that hazard will be dependent on a range of factors which relate to the likelihood and consequence of the exposure to risk. For instance a trip hazard such as log in a forest will pose little risk if people do not go there, but the same trip hazard would pose a greater risk if it was across a major pedestrian access way and the same trip hazard across the walkway would pose an even greater risk if the walkway was used by older blind people!

Hazard identification is the process of recognising that a hazard exists and defining its characteristics. Once the hazard has been identified it needs to be risk assessed. Risk assessment is the overall process of estimating the level of the risks and deciding what actions will be taken. Often this occurs in a 3 stage process which measures risk levels against a risk matrix which rates hazards as high, medium or low.


Some organisations define safety a state in which the risk has been reduced to a level as Low As is Reasonably Practicable (ALARP).

Deciding what is reasonably practicable to protect people from harm requires weighing up matters including the likelihood of a hazard or risk occurring and the degree of harm, or consequences, of that risk an incident occurred before making a judgement about what is reasonable in the circumstances. This will mean different things to different organisations and people and has been the source of many litigations and court cases.


The environment is made of components which may be subject to impact such as physical, biological, chemical and social components. Environmental Management is aimed to protect and maintain the environment from the negative effects and by products of businesses activities. While it is a separate and often detailed field relating to the impacts and aspects of certain activities, products or services that can interact with the environment, the risk management processes employed are the same as health and safety. Some environmental concerns are also health and safety concerns such as explosion, fire or the release of toxins.

As with health and safety a hazard is a source of potential harm, but in environmental management the definition has been expanded to include situations with the potential to cause loss, have adverse impacts or has an intrinsic potential that can be released. Environmental hazards can also be referred to as Environmental Aspects (Standards Australia 2006).

An environmental incident or environmental event is any occurrence that can have an adverse impact or consequence on the environment which releases the intrinsic potential of the hazard. An incident or an event can be short, one off occurrences, such an explosion, or ongoing such as a continuous omission, such as carbon monoxide omissions which occurs as a by-product of a refining processes.

Environmental risks are all sources of risk where there is a potential environmental consequence or impact or as a result of a cause-effect relationship, hazard, aspect, incidents or evens (Standards Australia 2006).

These could be:

Environmental impact includes effects and consequences and may be described in terms of severity and consequences of the event on the environmental receptors.

The process of environmental risk management occurs in the following steps (Standards Australia 2006).




While security is well defined and guarded discipline it is not well supported by specific detailed legislation, in fact apart from those companies that operate critical infrastructure the majority of security issues an organisation makes will be effected under Health and Safety Legislation. This is especially true for Australian organisations working under the harmonised legislation (Tooma 2011). Too often money is spent on the headline grabbing items when investigation shows that the incidental losses are often of greater value.

In the harmonised legislation a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking such as a business has a duty to ensure that persons are not exposed to risk to their health and safety arising from work undertaken in the conduct of their business or undertaking. This would means that all risks of people working for the organisation and that the organisation itself may be exposed to must be addressed and control measures implemented (Tooma 2011).

Items that are addressed in security management are criminal activity such as trespass theft, fraud, smuggling, trafficking, physical or sexual abuse; loss or compromising of information such as industrial espionage, identify theft, blackmail or extortion; and finally disruptions such as terror events, sabotage, political, civil and social unrest or issue motivated groups (i.e. protests or militant union activity). All of the above result in losses to and organisation either as a direct financial loss or indirect losses resulting from flow-on effects of the action to the business.

The terms used in security are:

Threat, this is similar to hazard in health, safety and environmental management however it is given over a time period. A threat is the probability that a specific target is attacked in a specific way during a specific period.

Consequence, this has the same meaning as it does in health, safety and environmental management. Consequence is the expected magnitude of loss from threat. It should be noted that threat is measured against a specific target during a specific period.

Vulnerability, this is similar to the term residual risk used in health and safety. Vulnerability is the capacity of a system to respond to a threat.  It is a measure of the effectiveness of the security risk controls put in place.

In terms of the risk management process used in security the following steps occur.

An interesting side note is that the hierarchy of controls used in health and safety is just as effective in a security setting.

Using the case of a diamond mine in a remote region in an unsettled area;

Firstly can the threat be eliminated? i.e. does that organisation have to mine in that area? Can it move its operations elsewhere such as another area where the threat is less?

Secondly, is there a way of substituting the threat? i.e. during the transport of the diamonds could it occur via plane, rather ground based vehicle?

Thirdly, is there and engineering solution to the threat? i.e. fencing the boundary, constructing secure areas for safes and storing areas or using mining equipment that reduces the chances for loose diamonds to be collected?

Administration, such as only allow certain people in certain areas, doing background check on employees, carrying out patrols of the grounds or checking bags and persons before they leave the mine.

PPE, such as providing specialist clothing, with no pockets, to be worn in certain areas to reduce the possibility of concealment.


The quality system is the glue that holds each process together. The practice of documentation, systemisation, auditing, review and updates based on the findings of the review (i.e. corrective and preventative actions), identifies, verifies and forces continual improvement.

This systematic examination against defined criteria (i.e. audit schedule and process) to determine if activities and results conform to documented plans, policies, procedures, processes and targets, combined with the verification and review that they are effectively implemented effectively and that they are appropriate are suitable to achieve the organisations policy and objectives, forms a continual learning loop which enhances systems and results in improvements in performance.


This article has shown how Health, Safety, Environmental and Security Management are based on Risk Management and that the processes used in each are similar.

By approaching these disciplines in a similar or the same manner can result in synergies resulting in improved operational efficiencies, reduced labour cost and reduce exposure to loss.

Perhaps the biggest saving is recognising you do not need to be a specialist in all fields to be able to oversee the management of the processes in each. An understanding of the risk management process and the terms used within each field allows a person to understand the particular risk and how it might be controlled. Specialists can be brought in for specific tasks as required.

The Similarities Between Health, Safety, Security Environment and Quality by Jason Parsons


Standards Australia. “Environmental Risk Management – Principles and Processes HB 203:2006.” 2006.

Standards Australia. “Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems – specifications with guidance for use (AS / NZS 4801:2001).” 2001.

Standards Australia. “Quaility Management Systems (AS/NZS 9001:1969).” 2006.

Standards Australia. “Risk Management Guidelines – Companinion to AS/NZS 4360:2004 (HB 436:2004).” 2004.

Tooma, Michael. Safety, Security, Health and Environmental Law. Sydney: The Federation Press, 2011.


Have more questions? Submit a request


Please sign in to leave a comment.
Powered by Zendesk