In an ever-changing business landscape, ensuring your organisation is up-to-date on the latest legislative requirements is crucial. However, businesses, their employees and their customers can also often benefit significantly from becoming compliant with the latest ISO standards.
Integrated management systems are increasingly becoming the answer for businesses across Australia looking to boost their organisation’s compliance across all processes. By successfully gaining certification with a range of standards, companies can ensure they’re operating in accordance with the latest legislative updates, all the while going above and beyond in making sure their management systems improve efficiencies.
In the following article, we’ll be delving into how an organisation looking to improve their Occupational Health and Safety systems may choose to do so.
1. Ensure You’re Meeting the Requirements of Legislative Updates
As a minimum, you will need to ensure that you business is operating in compliance with any relevant OHS legislation.
In 2017, legislative updates were brought into effect in Victoria, amending those that were previously released in 2007. If you’re not satisfying these regulatory guidelines, you will be putting your business at risk of prosecution, which may be expensive and damaging to your organisation’s reputation and ongoing success. Ultimately, however, the greatest downfall of such failure is that your employees’ safety in the workplace is compromised, putting them at risk of otherwise avoidable injuries and illnesses.
Occupational Health and Safety legislation details the need for organisations to take the appropriate measures to keep their staff members out of harms way. This involves identifying, addressing and monitoring risks in the working environment that may challenge their physical on mental health. Regardless of your industry, business size or location in Victoria, ensuring that, at the very least, you meet the state’s minimum legislative requirements is absolutely crucial.
The specific legislative updates you need to achieve compliance with will likely vary depending on the sector you’re operating within and the nature of your business’ processes. For instance, those in the construction industry will need to be aware of certain changes that may be irrelevant to someone running a law firm.
Thus, if you’re unsure of where to begin in ensuring you’re meeting all relevant legislative regulatory guidelines, speaking with an experienced expert will often be a great starting point. This can give you an outside perspective regarding your business processes, helping you identify certain areas that require improvement and allowing for you to gain professional assistance when developing and integrating new, improved systems and strategies.
2. Achieve Compliance With ISO 45001
So, you’ve successfully satisfied the requirements of any relevant legislative updates, what now? If you’re interested in taking your systems to the next level in terms of OHS compliance, achieving ISO 45001 certification is a great next step to take.
Published in 2018, ISO 45001 is the internationally recognised standard for Occupational Health and Safety. It assists businesses in improving the wellbeing of their employees in the workplace by guiding them in proactively identifying and removing risks. It’s expected that those who become ISO 45001 compliant will have maintainable, realistic systems in place to manage and reduce the risks employees may be exposed to while at work.
ISO 45001 is a standard that can either be implemented independently, but can also be seamlessly integrated with various other ISO standards. This is because it follows the same, universal Annex SL structure as all other ISO certification guidelines. Thus, if your business is interested in improving compliance across various areas of your business, you can do so without an excessive amount of documentation and difficulty. Standards that can be integrated with ISO 45001 include ISO 14001 (environmental), ISO 9100 (aerospace) and ISO 9001 (quality). Introducing integrated management systems can help your business achieve a holistic approach to compliance, improving processes organisation-wide.
The requirements that an organisation must satisfy to achieve ISO 45001 certification aren’t overly prescriptive. Thus, because there is no concrete OHS management system design specified in the guidelines, regardless of their industry, size or location, organisations have the opportunity to improve their current systems and achieve their compliance objectives.
Transitioning to ISO 45001
ISO 45001 is the amended version of OHSAS 18001 and AS 4801 so, if you’ve previously attained compliance with either of these standards, you may want to make the transition.
Similarly to ISO 45001, OHSAS 18001 is an OHS standard that is integrated by organisations globally. However, as mentioned, ISO 45001 uses the Annex SL structure, allowing for improved integration efficiencies. Those who are currently compliant with OHSAS 18001 will have until March 2021 to transition to ISO 45001 if they want to remain certified, as this version is being phased out of use.
On the other hand, AS 4801 is a standard for OHS that is only implemented by businesses operating in Australia and New Zealand. Unlike OHSAS 18001, this standard isn’t being completely phased out just yet. This is because it’s referenced in Australian legislation and, thus, until such mention is amended by regulators AS 4801 will continue to be considered current. While, for this reason, it remains available to Australian businesses, AS 4801 has just recently been superseded by ISO 45001.
When organisations adopt or transition to ISO 45001, they will typically follow a relatively similar process:
- Conduct an ISO gap analysis of their existing OHS management systems. When doing this, companies compare their current processes to the guidelines detailed in ISO 45001. This step is vital, as it allows for organisations to pinpoint particular areas where improvement is required for them to achieve compliance with this OHS standard. Typically, businesses will use a gap assessment matrix to complete this stage.
It’s often suggested that, when conducting an ISO gap analysis, organisations gain professional assistance from an experienced ISO 45001 consultant. By doing this, they can get a fresh, outside perspective on where their systems need work, all the while receiving expert advice.
- Develop a comprehensive implementation plan. Once you figured out what needs to be changed, you’ll need to determine how such alterations will be systematically implemented. When doing this, you will need to set realistic deadlines, nominate how exactly resources will be delegated and define certain responsibilities of member within your organisation.
- Introduce identified changes. In order to successfully achieve ISO 45001 certification, your business will need to instil a culture of safety organisation-wide. This means that all of your employees, regardless of their level in the business, will need to be aware of and capable of performing their required role in leading the organisation to improved OHS management. For this reason, ensuring that staff members receive adequate training prior to the implementation of changes is absolutely crucial.
Once you’ve made any appropriate changes to your current OHS management system, it’s essential to ensure that processes are continually monitored. Integrated management systems need to achieve maintainable results, so this step is vital.
Next, a specialist will complete an ISO internal audit. By conducting an ISO internal audit, an independent, qualified individual can determine whether you’re adequately meeting the requirements of ISO 45001. After this has been completed, your ISO internal auditor will present you with a report detailing their findings. This document may include suggestions for further improvement and will, ultimately, inform you of when you have successfully achieved certification.
- Regularly monitor your performance. By consistently assessing whether your ISO 45001 management system is still meeting compliance requirements, you can give your business an improved change of staying certified. In addition to this and, arguably, more importantly, you can ensure that any OHS issues are proactively identified and resolved, so that your employees remain safe, happy and healthy.
Benefits of Achieving ISO 45001 Compliance
There are various reasons that an organisation may decide to introduce an integrated management system, such as ISO 45001. Businesses can experience an array of benefits by becoming certified, for instance:
- They can lower the number of employees who experience injuries or illnesses in the workplace that are otherwise avoidable. This can, in turn, reduce costs incurred by the organisation that are a direct result of such occurrences.
- As companies who are ISO 45001 compliance are audited by an independent party, certification can provide a credible representation of their commitment to managing OHS in the workplace. In addition to this, certain companies that value such standard of compliance highly may decide to choose a certified company over an un-certified counterpart.
- ISO 45001 uses a high-level structure, Annex SL, which means it can be seamlessly integrated with various other ISO standards. This means organisations can simultaneously improve their systems organisation-wide, without excessive documentation and duplication.
- By gaining ISO 45001 certification, businesses and their clients can rest assured knowing that they are meeting the requirements of relevant government regulations and legislation.
- Compliant companies take on a greater responsibility for their global impact and, in doing this; can gain a better understanding of their stakeholder’s expectations, priorities and needs.
If you’re interested in improving your organisation’s OHS compliance, get in touch with an expert today. They can provide you with more information and provide you with specialist insights into OHS legislative updates, ISO 45001, integrated management systems and ISO internal audits.