A potential challenge that many organisations may be facing in 2021 is ensuring the continuity of their operations despite significant changes to how they conduct their daily business. Companies have had to address significant Occupational Health and Safety requirements throughout the past year, resulting in many changes to organisational structures, such as a significant alteration to office environments, modifications to how staff perform their roles, and heavily amended processes to ensure that all aspects of their operations meets work health and safety requirements for staff and onsite visitors. Successfully achieving these goals, whilst also ensuring that nothing is overlooked in the process, can seem like an arduous task, especially in that it is ongoing, with constant checks and audits being required to ensure that companies are continuing to operate in a safe, compliant, manner.
For this reason, it is recommended that organisations look at implementing the International Organization for Standardization’s globally recognised ISO 45001 OH&S Standards. These standards, which came into effect in 2018, have quickly become the number one guide for business’ looking to develop a safe, compliant work environment. This is because they provide organisations with a set of proven successful strategies for ensuring their work sites meet their legal regulations regarding work health and safety.
This is achieved in numerous ways, such as ensuring that there are appropriate auditing procedures in place to check for inefficiencies and weak points and then work at mitigating them, that the business has a clear understanding of what their work health and safety requirements are, and that they work at structuring their operations to ensure that it is not only on top of their legal obligations, but that they are developing a safe, supportive work environment for all staff.
The previous OH&S Standards for organisations, OHSAS 18001 and AS/NZS 4801, are being phased out to make way for the ISO 45001 OH&S Standards, and business’ that were previously accredited to one of the older standards will have to migrate to the new ones by September 2021 to retain their workplace OH&S compliance. However, doing so can bring many benefits to organisations, as the new standards provide a much more unified approach to developing safe, compliant, work environments. This includes a focus on the prevention of work-related injuries, through the development of safety procedures across the organisation, that work at identifying potential threats before they can impact operations, taking active steps to mitigate their effects on the business, and then developing safeguarding procedures to ensure that the likelihood of the threat reoccurring is minimised, and that if it does there are clear steps in place for mitigating its impact.
The Standards help create a supportive culture where staff feel valued
One of the central benefits of the ISO 45001 Standards is that it operates on a “top-down” structure, where the management and owners are required to actively participate in the development of a compliant OH&S environment, and then pass these issues ‘down’ to other employees. This means that there will be regular staff meetings and discussions regarding how the organisation is developing its OH&S practices, and all staff will be given a chance to give feedback, voice their concerns, discuss particular areas of interest, and get actively involved in the development of health and safety practices across the workplace.
The new standards further distinguish themselves from the previous OH&S standards, as they are designed for compatibility with other ISO Business Management Systems, such as ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems, which means that organisations that have implemented a different ISO Management System will find it easy to implement the ISO 45001 Standards across their operations.
This is because it adopts the same Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) approach to achieving its goals as other ISO Management Systems do. The PDCA cycle is a structured approach that helps business’ assess their current needs, implement an appropriate management system that helps them achieve their goals, and work at maintaining it, to ensure it works at continually helping the organisation to meet their operational goals. Specifically, the PDCA approach addresses:
- Planning: This initial stage sees an organisation auditing their operations and processes to assess for potential OH&S risks, and other areas of potential concern. Once the business has ascertained the scope of potential risks, areas of concern, and other factors that need to be addressed to achieve regulatory compliance, they can then work at developing a clear procedure outlining the steps that need to be taken to achieve their OH&S goals.
- Doing: This step sees the organisation implementing what they outlined in the planning stage and following a clear process to ensure that the organisational goals that they set out in the planning stage are clearly met and implemented.
- Checking: This stage is an auditing process where the steps taken by the organisation to achieve their OH&S goals are reviewed, to ensure that they were done correctly, in accordance with regulatory codes, and that there is clear documentation about anything that is not performing as it should be, so that it can be sufficiently addressed.
- Acting: This active step concerns recognising that the development of an effective OH&S Management System is an ongoing process, requiring continual review and inspection to ensure it is operating as it should be, that it reflects changes in legislation, that identified inefficiencies are quickly addressed, and so on.
This structured process makes it easier for business’ to achieve their operational goals
One of the main advantages of implementing the ISO 45001 Standards is they work at homogenising a business’ processes. For example, many organisations have different departments, locations, and divisions, that may not interact with each other on a regular basis. Each department may have developed their own approach to meeting their OH&S requirements, which are not directly compatible with how other departments operates.
By implementing these standards, business’ ensure that all areas of their operations work to the same standards and goals, and that there is compatibility between departments. This works at unifying the business structure, significantly streamlining its internal processes, and ensuring that there is open communication between all different areas of the operations. By operating in this manner, companies have much smoother processes, and will find it easier to achieve their operational goals.
If you would like to know more about how the ISO 45001 Standards could help your organisation reach its maximum potential, then please give Anitech’s safety consultants a call today on 1300 802 163. By giving them a brief overview of your business structure, some of the challenges it faces, and what goals your business would like to achieve, they will be able to discuss with you some of the ways your organisation could benefit from the implementation of these standards.
Further, Anitech will be hosting a webinar on this very topic, on the 3rd of March, at 11am Victorian time. Follow this link Webinar Registration – Zoom to RSVP. Please click here to read about the upcoming webinar, concerning How business’ can get the edge by implementing the ISO 45001 Standards.