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There has been a lot of discussion recently on what an organisation should assess themselves against to give confidence they are managing their health and safety requirements.
AS/NZS ISO 45001 which has been adopted by New Zealand, is likely to be a key player in the health and safety field. An internationally recognised standard, it can give reassurance to an organisation, its customers, and stakeholders of their commitment to health and safety.
It has a structured protocol that helps guide an organisation through all the health and safety aspects they need to think about; from what legislation they need to comply with, to worker involvement, risk management, and continuous improvement. And importantly, is open and applicable to all organisations, regardless of size, industry, or nature of their work.
It’s not as prescriptive as WSMP was, which was rather black and white, and it does require an organisation to think more critically about what they do. This can be a hard ask for many organisations.
On the flip side, having a robust system in place and being externally assessed by a professional against the standard can give an organisation a competitive edge.
Before you commit to complying with the standard, it’s important to understand whether it is worth the time and investment.
- It takes time, effort, commitment by senior leaders, and resources to achieve and maintain the standard.
- There can be morale, safety, image and financial consequences if you can’t or won’t maintain it at a level needed to achieve certification. A half-inspired approach will also mean that it takes a substantial amount of time to get aligned to the standard.
- It costs to be certified, so an organisation needs to decide on the level of assessment (for example: self-declared unaudited, uncertified auditor, certified auditor, non-accredited body, accredited body) that you want to achieve - which is reflected in the cost.
- Some managers and supervisors will see it as a disruption to their work and there is always risk of aversion to change from workers.
- Having AS/NZS ISO 45001 can refine the way you work, reduce the administrative clutter, make your workplace a happier and safer place; and if you go for certification, can position you as a more attractive prospect to clients and workers.
- I certainly see a range of benefits of the standard and its audit process. Being certified against AS/NZS ISO 45001:
- Positions an organisation as industry leader – A certified organisation will be seen as an elite category and be internationally recognised. At a time when pre-qualification requirements can be challenging, a certified system can quickly and easily demonstrate the standard at which your organisation or contractor operates.
- Increases trust and morale – By demonstrating your commitment to your workers’ safety and performance. At a time when our workforce has low unemployment, demand better from your employers and hold organisations more socially accountable for well-being; being transparent and demonstrating continuous improvement can have a huge impact on how the public, your future employees and prospective clients perceive your organisation.
- Improves managerial oversight – AS/NZS ISO 45001 includes key leadership and commitment requirements and by having the involvement of senior leaders and a clearly communicated process for identifying hazards, the health and safety of workers is continually improved over time.
- Covers both risks and opportunities – Unlike previous standards, AS/NZS ISO 45001 has a clear focus on both the risks and opportunities for an organisation and ensures there are systems in place to identify and manage them.
- Pre-emptive risk assessment – Implementing AS/NZS ISO 45001 helps your organisation prevent risks as opposed to reacting to them once they are detected. The internal auditing system provides a structured ‘early warning system’ to help you identify potential threats to worker health and safety.
Like any project, the success of a health and safety system will depend on the appetite of the organisation to follow a standard, senior leader commitment, and the resources available to achieve it. Good diligence is essential for an organisation to be aware of the pros and cons before embarking on AS/NZS ISO 45001 and complying with the standard.
Contact us at Avid Auditing to certify your health and safety system to AS/NZS ISO 45001.
- Our team of auditors are qualified and competent to support your audit experience.
- Register with us to receive more information and a checklist of requirements.