ISO 45003 has grabbed the attention of global business owners, including Australia, for being the first standard on mental health in the workplace. And the biggest question many CEOs ask is on, ‘Why should they integrate ISO 45003 into their Company’s WHS Management System?’
ISO 45003 is a logical extension of ISO 45001 that adds more specific psychosocial health guidance to an occupational management system’s framework. As a result, the two make excellent partners for a unified, integrated system.
Integrated Management System
An Integrated Management System (IMS) is essentially a collection of pre-defined procedures and processes that assist businesses in achieving excellent practices and safeguarding the health of their employees and manual labour.
Managing multiple ISOs separately can be unproductive, wasting time and resources. But by combining multiple ISO standards into a unified system, you can address common elements all at once, freeing up your time for more important tasks.
Integration ISO 45003 and ISO 45001
ISO 45003 is highly compatible with ISO 45001 because it provides a framework for managing psychosocial risk in an occupational health and safety management system. Thus, by integrating these two standards as per a strategic plan, you can create a management system that can define and control both psychological and physical risks to your staff.
By combining these ISOs, a single standard documented and managed system is formed. This enables you to easily implement modifications and enhancements across your business, reducing the possibility of negative consequences later on.
The benefits of integrating ISO 45003 and ISO 45001 can be best defined by the Plan-Do-Check-Act process, which is a constant process of continual improvement.
Owners are clearly defined, leaders accept accountability, and processes are documented and communicated effectively.
Training requirements are identified and met, and resources are allocated efficiently during operation.
Regular checks are performed to ensure the system’s effectiveness and relevance, and risks and flaws are identified and documented.
To achieve excellence, a single, integrated system is used to implement beneficial improvements, and compliance best practice insights are used.
Benefits of an Integrated Management System
With an Integrated Management System, your processes will work together so that each function is aligned and can contribute to one shared goal: improving your overall performance.
Thanks to one set of documentation, policies, procedures, and processes for all Standards, you can also reduce risks and increase profitability. The integration will therefore help in effective Risk Management.
Importance of ISO 45003 for Work Health Management
Since the publication of ISO 45003 on June 8, 2021, online WHS and forums have been buzzing with speculation about what the world’s first international standard for mental health in the workplace means for CEOs.
“How does the new standard fit in with existing WHS rules and guidelines?” is one of the key questions asked by CEOs, People, and Culture Directors, board members, WHS managers, etc., about ISO 45003 since its launch on June 8, 2021.
Adherence to ISO 45003 is optional because it is a guidance standard as opposed to a requirements standard, with no official certification required and no compliance check done. However, if a regulator determines that an organisation was aware of the best practice but chose to ignore it, dismissing ISO 45003’s best practice may be considered negligent.
To understand how ISO 45003 fits into the broader WHS landscape in Australia and New Zealand, understanding the primary levels of guidelines and regulations across Australia and New Zealand is essential.
Work Health and Safety (WHS) in Australia and New Zealand
There are four primary levels of regulations and guidelines across Australia and New Zealand:
Level 1: WHS Legislation
The first level, which is legally enforceable, consists of the WHS Act and WHS Regulations in Australia and the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 in New Zealand. The Australian rules were developed in response to a 2009 National Review into Model Occupational Health and Safety Laws, which prompted the Commonwealth, Territories, and States (except Victoria and Western Australia) to adopt the Model Work Health and Safety Act (WHS Act) and Model Work Health and Safety Regulations (WHS Regulations). As a result, the WHS laws in each jurisdiction are broadly similar (subject to minor variations). The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 in New Zealand was inspired in part by Australia’s Model WHS Act (subject to some variations).
Level 2: Mandatory national standards
WHS regulations mandate compliance with specific national standards, or parts of them, in a confined number of situations. Failure to comply with the standard may result in a violation of the applicable WHS law.
Level 3: Codes of practice
The WHS Act gives Ministers in each jurisdiction the authority to approve a code of practice. Codes of practice should be followed and can be used as evidence of stages that could or should have been taken to comply with the law by safety regulators in a prosecution.
Level 4: International standards
International standards, such as ISO 45003, established by the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO), offer guidelines on how to comply with WHS duties, but they are not legally binding unless compliance is explicitly mandated in WHS regulations. However, regulators seeking proof of legislative compliance may consider adherence to recommendations in guidelines and standards, and companies may choose to mandate compliance as a contractual requirement.
Jurisdictional duty and ISO 45003
NSW implemented the Code of Practice: Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work in May 2021 to become the first AU/NZ jurisdiction to implement an approved code of practice for mental health. In that very month, Australia’s work health and safety ministers addressed psychosocial hazards in the workplace, and most people agreed to amend the model WHS Regulations to address, more specifically, psychological injury, though no further progress has been made to date.
ISO 45003 is a useful guide to assist organisations in complying with their duties under WHS laws in jurisdictions that do not have a code of practice for managing psychosocial hazards in the workplace.
These responsibilities differ slightly between jurisdictions, and each workplace will have a unique approach to dealing with psychosocial hazards that is specific to the context and content of the work. For example, it will be different for the manufacturing industry and for the construction industry.
Compliance of ISO 45003 with the Jurisdictional duty
ISO 45003 can help you comply with your jurisdictional duty in the following ways:
- Find all psychosocial risks or hazards in the workplace;
- Testing, analysis, and accordingly prioritising the psychosocial hazards and risks;
- Manage and reduce psychosocial risks and hazards;
- Review the processes of identifying to managing on a regular basis; and
- Respond to the documentation of psychosocial hazards and risks.
- An employer must use a safety instrumented system to protect their construction components or manufacturing units from failures.
Anitech’s CEO, Anita Patturajan, will be speaking at the upcoming CSMF conference on ‘Integrating ISO 45003 into your WHS Management System’ on October 28, 2022. The session will indeed be a learning experience, so please attend.
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