When it comes to effective work health and safety, business’ should not make the mistake of only implementing OH&S practices across their operations to achieve compliance with industry regulations. While it is important for organisations to ensure their occupational health and safety practices are compliant to workplace laws and industry regulations, implementing your OH&S practices to be solely compliant to the letter of industry regulations runs the risk of being reactive rather than proactive in your approach to effective OH&S strategies.
Rather, business’ should work at implementing OH&S practices across their operations for a number of reasons, including developing a safe, supportive work culture, streamlining operations by minimising downtime, and achieving industry compliance. Doing so allows organisations to approach the issue of occupational health and safety through a proactive perspective, which leads to safer, more productive, work practices.
For years there were two OH&S standards that business’ across Australia implemented to achieve work health and safety compliance, the AS/NZS 4801 and the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001 Standards. However, these standards had limitations, as they approached the issue of attaining effective OH&S practices across an organisation through a reactive rather than proactive approach, and so, were not as effective as they could be in helping business’ develop an efficient OH&S management system. So, in March 2018, the International Organisation for Standardization released a more effective worldwide OH&S guideline to help business’ achieve their WHS goals.
The ISO 45001:2018 OH&S Standards has superseded the previous standards as the new benchmark for business’ wanting to implement an efficient OH&S Management System across their operations, and organisations that want to remain compliant to OH&S regulations will be required to migrate to the new standard by September 2021, when the old standards will be phased out completely.
ISO 45001 is about more than industry compliance
As mentioned, an effective strategy for business’ to approach their OH&S commitments is to understand the ways in which a compliant, effective OH&S management system can benefit their organisation, outside of meeting industry compliance. An efficient ISO 45001 OH&S Management System can bring many benefits to an organisation, including:
- The development of a preventative approach to potential OH&S hazards. The previous standards adopted a reactive stance, focusing on mitigating work health and safety issues after they have already occurred. In contrast, these standards require business’ to assess and control potential OH&S hazards before the occurrence of an incident, meaning the effects of hazards on operations are significantly minimised.
- The development of a supportive work culture from the upper management levels to staff across all different departments. The ISO 45001 Standards focus on developing a framework in which employee participation is encouraged, all employees are briefed on their role and responsibilities when it comes to OH&S, and there are appropriate channels for all staff to go to if they want to discuss a potential OH&S concern. As opposed to the old standards, which merely focused on fixing problems after they have occurred, these new standards actively work at developing and upholding a safe, supportive work culture, in which employees feel valued and safe as they carry out their work duties. This goes beyond simply achieving regulatory compliance, as it strengthens a business’ overall market position.
- The development of proactive OH&S strategies across the whole organisation, to work at preventing workplace incidents, and nurturing a supportive work culture in which all employees can perform their duties to maximum efficiency, secure in the knowledge that their health and safety is provided for.
Migration is smooth and trouble-free
A question that business’ may have about migrating to the new standards is whether it is a convoluted, difficult process, and the answer is no. This is partly because one of the key benefits of the ISO 45001 Standards is that they build off of the old ones, meaning that a simple audit of your business’ existing OH&S system will determine which aspects of it are already ISO 45001 compliant. Areas of an existing OH&S system that are already compliant can be left as is, while additional OH&S measures can then be implemented to ensure the rest of the operations meets the requirements outlined in the standards.
Further, these standards utilise the same High-Level Structure (HLS) as other ISO standards, including ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems and ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems¸ meaning that there is a high degree of compatibility across the standards, and that organisations that have already implemented another ISO Standard will be able to seamlessly integrate the ISO 45001 Standards into their business, as it follows the same organisational framework as the other standards.
In short, by implementing and complying with the ISO 45001 Standards, your business can go above and beyond when it comes to occupational health and safety. Certification to the standards not only helps your business achieve regulatory compliance, it also allows it to develop a safer, more supportive work environment, maximise productivity and profits through minimising downtime, mitigate potential risks before they can impact operations, and demonstrate a public commitment to safety, that shows staff, customers, and members of the general public that your organisation is a principled, trustworthy business to deal with. These benefits extend far beyond simply achieving regulatory compliance.
If you would like to know more about the ways in which these standards could be implemented to your business’ advantage, then please give Anitech’s safety systems consultants a call today on 1300 802 163. By giving them a rundown of your organisation, including its size, business type, and structure, they will be able to discuss with you how these standards could be implemented across your company to help strengthen your business’ overall standing, through the development of a hazard-free, supportive work culture. Isn’t this the kind of safe work environment you would like to work in?
Please click here to read about how implementing the ISO 45001 Standards can give your organisation the edge, helping it to distinguish itself in a tough marketplace.