Effective occupational health and safety standards should be an issue that all employers are concerned about. The benefits of an OH&S compliant workplace are many: Not only does it demonstrate to staff that your organisation is committed to protecting their physical and mental wellbeing of employees, which is conducive to a product work environment, it fulfills the business’ regulatory, legal, and social requirements. It demonstrates to the community that your organisation cares about the wellbeing of its staff, and has taken active steps to ensure the health and safety of everyone onsite. However, developing effective workplace health and safety practices is an ongoing process, requiring an internal audit of the business’ OH&S practices to ensure that its practices continue to meet industry OH&S standards.
This is due to regulatory, industry and legal bodies often changing their occupational health and safety rules and guidelines, to ensure that they are in-line with social, industry, and legal occupational health and safety amendments. What this means for companies is that even if they undertook an occupational health and safety review awhile back, they need to continually check their OH&S systems to ensure that they continue to meet industry compliance, and that regulatory changes has not made some of their OH&S practices outdated.
An internal OH&S audit demonstrates a commitment to safety
There have been some significant changes to OH&S standards and regulations over the past year. New workplace health and safety concerns have led to shifts in both national and international OH&S standards. To ensure that workplaces are well-briefed on new OH&S guidelines, and implement them across their worksites, they should consider undergoing an internal audit of all their OH&S practices, and then implementing an Occupational Health and Safety Management System, in accordance with an internationally certified workplace health and safety standard.
The previous workplace health and safety guidelines, the national AS/NZS 4801 and the international OHSAS 18001 standards, have been phased out in favour of the International Organisation for Standardization’s ISO 45001:2018 OH&S standards. What this means for business’ that were certified to these old standards, is that to retain their OH&S certifications they must migrate to the ISO 45001 standards by July 13, 2023. However, to make the transition as smooth and seamless as possible, it is advised that organisations begin the migration at their earliest convenience.
In order to make the transition as easy as possible, the ISO 45001 standards can build upon your existing OH&S systems, ascertain what is working effectively and what is not, and simply address the OH&S weak points in your existing systems, fine-tuning them to ensure ISO 45001 compliance. This is done by conducting an initial gap analysis of your current OH&S systems, to gauge where it is at now, and then work out what steps need to be taken to make it ISO 45001 compliant. This means that your business will not have to implement an entirely new OH&S system, but rather build on the strengths of its existing one to make it ISO 45001 compliant.
Further, the new OH&S standards give you the opportunity to streamline other aspects of your business’ systems management, through either implementation or integration of the ISO 9001 Quality Management systems and the ISO 14001 Environmental standards. This is because the ISO 45001 standards adhere to the same High-Level Structure as the ISO 9001 and 14001 standards, making it easy for your organisation to unify its management processes into a single, cohesive structure.
The new OH&S standards distinguish themselves from the previous ones, by placing a stronger emphasis on the physical environment of the business, and how to mitigate potential workplace health and safety issues stemming from the workplace atmosphere. Further, the new standards place significant emphasis on the leadership and management culture of the workplace, and emphasise the responsibility of management to promote a safe, positive work culture, ensure that employees are well-trained on what to do in the event of an incident, and that there is a clear chain-of-command for all staff to follow, in the event of an incident. By applying this methodical, systematic approach to OH&S management, business’ minimise the chances of potential OH&S issues significantly disrupting their operations.
If you were certified to the old OH&S standards, now is the time to migrate. The ISO 45001 standards are designed for smooth integration into existing OH&S practices, ensuring that company downtime is minimised during the transition. The ISO 45001 standards will be able to build upon the existing OH&S practices within your business by strengthening and fine-tuning them, and conducting a gap analysis to ensure that other areas of your business will meet the ISO 45001 requirements. Further, if your business was not previously certified to one of these existing standards, but would like to strengthen its OH&S practices to ensure industry compliance, and a safe, productive workplace, then implementing these standards will significantly help your organisation get the edge it needs to maintain its reputation.
If you would like to know some of the specific ways your organisation stands to benefit by becoming ISO 45001 certified, then please give Anitech’s safety consultants a call today on 1300 802 163. By going over with them the scope and size of your business, the kind of work it conducts, and some of the OH&S concerns it would like to address, they will be able to discuss with you the specific ways in which these standards could be tailored to your organisation to help all staff maximise their performance, in a safe, productive environment. Doesn’t this sound like a safe business strategy?
Please click here to find out more about some other benefits a business stands to gain through implementing a certified Occupational Health and Safety management system.