In one case, a company that we had worked with for years had undergone a management restructure and a cost cutting exercise. For the past three years they have been saving a small amount of money by engaging cheaper consultants. Alarmingly, it appears that the cost savings have been achieved at the expense of real value add to the system. Instead of having regular visits to carry out internal audits and check on progress towards actions this company barely saw their consultants who only visited immediately before a surveillance visit from the Certifcation Body.
A new member of staff had gone into that company and been given the responsibly for managing the relationship with the consultants. As somebody experienced in maintaining management systems, she identified that the system had not been working since the alternative consultants were appointed. Indeed, despite having achieved OHSAS18001 the company had experienced an accident that should have been avoided. Essentially, if the system had been properly maintained, the internal audit regime would have identied the weaknesses in the process for subcontractor management. The lack of effective audits meant that an avoidable accident occurred and will have cost the company far more in terms of lost time, management investigation costs etc than the company saved by going for the cheapest option.