Running a small business can be quite challenging, especially when you’re just getting started. Among many priority issues in the beginning, there are obligations regarding legal requirements, including matters for occupational health and safety at work, many of which are requirements of international standard(s), as well. Entrepreneurs who want to set a solid foundation and grow their business to be sustainable, even if they start out small, recognise the implementation of occupational health and safety management standard ISO 45001 as their tool in achieving those goals. In this article, you’ll learn about the benefits of ISO 45001 for small businesses.

Small businesses’ OH&S practices have a crucial impact on the national economy

Before numbering all the benefits, it’s important to emphasise that small businesses in many national economies represent the majority of a business community, and thus have a large impact on the entire economy and society in general. By definition, the criteria for small businesses are defined by many factors such as number of employees, type of industry or business sector, and the annual turnover. A small business can vary from just a few employees, e.g., a bakery, a pharmacy, a trading company, or a small grocery shop, up to 500 production employees in a manufacturing organisation.Regardless of the size or sector that small businesses cover, they play an important role in one economy as a whole, because healthy workers (employees), and healthy and safe working environments in small businesses mean a healthy economy and a healthy society in general.

Safety first

No matter how big or small the scope of the organisation is, safety must come first. A properly implemented Occupational Health and Safety Management System contributes to an effective and efficient framework for the employees that will help minimise and/or prevent injuries, accidents, near-miss accidents, medical illnesses, or even deaths.The challenges that small businesses face due to work injuries or illness include labor shortages, especially in those organisations / companies that have only a few employees. Employee absences certainly affect the productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency of other employees, as well as the quantity of product or service delivered, whether on a short- or long-term basis.

Decreased OH&S risks

Small businesses are not immune to risks, and certainly not to occupational and health risks. Because the international standard ISO 45001 is applicable to any organisation regardless of its size, type, and activity, with managing OH&S risks, among other factors, the organisation is taking into account the needs and expectations of its workers and other interested parties. By participation and consultation of the workers and interested parties, not only are the employees concerned and engaged, but also contractors, subcontractors, external providers, and other interested parties, so the OHS system affects a wider circle of parties. It contributes to fulfilling their expectations, and vice versa, regarding Occupational health and safety and many other issues. For example: workers expect that the owners will create and provide all necessary measures and equipment for a safe and healthy working environment, and the owners expect that the workers will obey and implement the OH&S measures. The contractors want and expect to work with a company that respects all necessary legal and OHS standard requirements, which is a very common issue and contract obligation. That also affects when the organisation engages subcontractors for the contract to be realised, so the obligations and expectations for OH&S implementation measures are transferred to and expected from the subcontractors as well.

A properly implemented Occupational Health and Safety Management System means establishing operational controls to manage OH&S risks, contributing to the reduction and minimisation of risks, as well as increasing awareness about them, in compliance with applicable legal and other requirements.

Reduced business costs

How can investments in the health and safety of workers and the working environment contribute to reducing costs in small businesses? The answer is through fewer absences due to sickness, cutting healthcare costs, encouraging the workforce in general to remain active and/or keeping older workers in employment, which directly or indirectly lead to reducing business costs.

Imagine one example: A small business has only a few employees, where even a short absence of a worker can affect the business. How will a longer absence related to any OH&S causes affect the business and the continuity of its processes? It will force the business owners to incur new employment and training costs, and it will decrease productivity and profit-leading to increased business costs and decreased competitiveness.

Increased productivity

A properly implemented Occupational health and safety Management System and practices create opportunities for the small business to address and treat occupational safety & health issues every time with a standardised, one-way approach that allows a quicker systematical response, rather than resolving the OHS issues and problems differently each time.

The ISO45001 standard helps the small business to manage its staff more effectively by defining acceptable and unacceptable behavior in the workplace. A good OH&S system enhances employees’ commitment to the team / organisation as a whole, creating and building a stronger team.

Social responsibility

Because implementation of Occupational health and safety management standard ISO 45001 is voluntary, cooperation of the small business with all interested parties is at the will of the business owners – that is, they commit themselves through an effective OH&S system and the organisation to the employees and the wider community. The organisation’s activities are closely connected through active cooperation with all identified interested parties, not just those within the business, but external as well. It shows that the business is committed to working within a set of health and safety principles, demonstrating to all stakeholders that the business is socially responsible.

Enhanced and protected brand value and image

By demonstrating that the business is addressing its health and safety obligations, the company protects and enhances its reputation and credibility. It also sends a clear message to the customers that the business is committed to working within a set of health and safety principles. This gives more confidence to the customers and potential clients to start and/or continue cooperation with the company, which leads to increased business competitiveness and building the brand.

Last, but not least – continuous improvement

As an OH&S Management System requirement, continuous improvement is essential in order to improve products, services, and / or processes. Improvement, in the context of a management system, means identifying potential risks and opportunities, initiating plans, and working to become better in its day-to-day activities with the intention being to minimise the potential risks.

By taking action for continuous improvement, even when going step by step, or little by little, small businesses not only improve their products or processes – they also improve their results and strategy, as well as customer, employee, and supplier relationships.

So, when thinking about implementing ISO45001, don’t hesitate – just do it. It will surely give even more benefits to your small business.

If you need help:

Melbourne: contact ohs consultant melbourne

Brisbane: contact Safety consultants Brisbane

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How safeguarding your business interests strengthens your organisation.