While it’s a tough reality, occupational accidents are hardly uncommon worldwide. There are more than 317 million accidents each year, and from these incidents 2.3 million people lose their lives.
In Australia alone, during 2018-19 there were over 114,000 serious workers’ compensation claims. These are instances where staff had to take a week or longer off work because of an injury or disease they incurred while on the job.
Workplace health and safety isn’t something you want to take chances with, and cutting corners is the last thing you want to do. To ensure they stay on top of their health and safety requirements and are seen to be doing so, many business owners take the next step and decide to get certified to the international health and safety standard: ISO 45001 .
Workplace health and safety and ISO 45001 Australia
There’s plenty Australian businesses can and should do to prevent any of their employees from becoming another statistic. Meeting your minimum health and safety requirements is a good place to start, but for those looking to up their game, being independently audited as part of ISO certification is a feasible, practical and overall great option.
With compliance comes the peace of mind that you’re satisfying all of your health and safety expectations, and doing what you can to avoid staff being harmed in the workplace.
If you’re one of the 38,500 organisations across the globe with valid ISO 45001 certification, you’ve clearly recognised the value of compliance.
For those that have already achieved certification, but want to keep proactively working to do all they can to keep their employees as safe as possible in the workplace, there can be a sense of ‘what now?’
Or, maybe you feel you’ve accomplished all you need to after getting ISO certified and have turned your focus to the next project. Now that you’re compliant with ISO 45001, certification can be pushed to the back of your mind until your next audit – right? This definitely isn’t the case.
The role of continual improvement in ISO 45001 certification
ISO 45001 certification isn’t something you can ‘set and forget’. Compliance requires continued commitment from all of your management, frontline workers and everyone in-between.
If you want to get the most out of your OHS management systems and also maintain compliance well into the future, getting ISO certified is just the beginning.
When management systems aren’t regularly monitored and are left untouched for months, by the time your next audit rolls around, you may find you have numerous areas of non-conformance.
Health and safety non-conformances can result in near misses, accidents and potentially fatalities. Taking remedial action can’t be left to chance or postponed. Businesses need systems that help them react promptly and ensure things get done in a timely manner.
Even if management system changes just haven’t been appropriately documented over time, you risk losing your business’ ISO certified status that you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
This can be a real headache for businesses, which then need to incur additional expenses to get certified again, on top of those they’ve already invested in getting compliant in the first place.
How to maintain your ISO 45001 certification in Australia
The question then becomes – what can you do to stay on top of your ISO safety management system requirements?
Here are some of our tips:
- Complete regular ISO internal audits on a quarterly basis, where an auditor assesses how fully you comply with the requirements of ISO 45001 and your own internal systems and provides suggestions for making improvements.
- Check up on ‘open issues’. This involves setting aside time for your team members to check your progress towards alleviating any issues identified in recent company audits.
- Ensure you are tracking actions. To see the full impact of the changes you are making, it’s important to have suitable measures in place to keep track of everything you are implementing. When tracking actions, you want to keep information on who is responsible for completing each of them, any incidents that are being addressed and whether the solution you have put in place has dealt with the problem adequately.
- Plan for success. Make sure that even after getting ISO 45001 certified you’re setting goals for where you want your management systems to be in the short and long-term, and that you’re monitoring progress towards these over time so you and your team have clear objectives to be working towards.