Striving for Best Practice Occupational Health and Safety

Safety at work is a fundamental right of all workers and it is the role of the employer to ensure safety by firstly understanding the potential for hazards and risks in the workplace and secondly to effectively manage and lead the team to ensure that the risk of damage is mitigated as far as practicable.

Work health and safety laws in Australia provide a clear framework for compliance and a workplace incident will soon test how well this framework has been applied to an entity. Codes of Practice and Australian and International standards provide further guidance to business operators.

One such standard, AS/NZS 4801 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems provides a platform for industry sector leaders to stand above and work beyond OHS compliance in order to achieve best practice OHS management.

In line with two other new ISO standards, ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems and ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems, a new standard has recently been published by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). ISO 45001: 2018 provides a robust and effective set of processes for improving work safety and is designed to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses.

ISO 45001 sits comfortably alongside the quality and environment standards and requires businesses to ensure that safety is managed as a key business risk and that the discipline of safety is embedded into all business processes.

Standards are not laws and there is no requirement to conform to a standard. Conforming to ISO 9001, 14001 and 4801 does, however, demonstrate the intention to achieve best practice quality, environmental and occupational health and safety and will provide a competitive advantage in many sectors.

Australia will transition from AS/NZS 4801 to ISO 45001 in time, however there are many adjustments that firstly need to be made, specifically to the WHS Regulation. There are presently no certification bodies accredited to conduct audits against ISO 45001 and there is no transition plan yet for this standard. We do know, however, that the audit duration for ISO 45001 will be longer.

Masula Compliance specialises in the development of systems that enable compliance to ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and AS/NZS 4801 and we will be readying our clients for the transition to ISO 45001.