Globally, every 15 seconds, a worker dies from a work-related accident or disease, and 153 people experience a work-related injury.
Regardless of the industry you operate within, workplace health and safety is non-negotiable. While some sectors like construction can be inherently more high-risk, incidents that inflict injury or illness on employees can occur in any workplace.
In Australia alone, more than 500,000 people suffer a workplace injury or illness each year.
For many, recent times have also seen this risk escalated. During 2020, as a myriad of new COVID-related threats emerged, employers had to swiftly adjust their health and safety systems suitably. By early May, nearly half of all working Australians were working from home, which further complicated things.
Staying up-to-date on and compliant with relevant occupational health and safety requirements ought to be a top priority for businesses. This comes down to more than crossing and ticking boxes. Organisations need to build lean systems that support employees in completing the work of the business safely.
Managing workplace health and safety with ISO 45001
ISO 45001 provides a practical and realistic framework for businesses across the globe looking to develop effective, maintainable systems that keep their staff safe in the workplace.
ISO 45001 is the international standard for occupational health and safety. In 2019, there were more than 38,500 organisations with valid ISO 45001 certification worldwide – and this figure continues to grow.
ISO certification doesn’t happen overnight. Generally, it takes an organisation a number of months to get its systems to a point where conformance is achieved. These processes must also be supported by a business-wide commitment from staff, as well as appropriate resource availability and allocation.
You may be asking why do organisations choose to strive towards ISO compliance, even though they already have some health and safety procedures in place and are satisfying their legal obligations?
There’s more than one reason this is the case. In the following article, we’re taking a closer look at the benefits that can come with ISO 45001 compliance, as well as the challenges that can be solved by achieving certification.
Why get ISO 45001 certified?
The existence and success of a business heavily depends on its employees.
Keeping staff out of harm’s way in the workplace is not only a moral obligation – it’s also a legal one. Even in low to medium-risk environments, staff should not feel their safety is being compromised. This can happen all too easy if management cuts corners or isn’t thorough enough in assessing and mitigating risks.
As a business owner or manager, you have no doubt already recognised the importance of minimising workplace risks and, because of this, have some policies and procedures in place.
That said, there are still more than 2.78 million people who lose their life as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases each year. While some people survive, they sustain injuries that will impact them long into the future.
To provide the safest possible working environment for their staff, organisations need to go above and beyond – the guidelines for ISO 45001 help them do just that.
With ISO 45001 certification, businesses develop solid OHS procedures that are integrated into their overall company processes. This supports them in staying up-to-date on and compliant with OHS requirements, including relevant legislation, even as changes occur over time.
Major benefits of ISO 45001
To justify your business’ investment of time, funds and resources in ISO 45001 certification, you need to be confident it will have some form of return and real purpose for your organisation.
There are clear links between OHS management systems and long-term business efficiency. Organisations that get and stay certified reap the benefits of this, but the advantages of streamlined occupational health and safety management systems go far beyond this.
Improved business reputation
Your business’ reputation and public perception play a significant role in whether customers decide to give your product or service a try.
Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with the underlying values and beliefs of an organisation and their employees. In particular, they’ll often make the conscious choice to support businesses that align with their own values.
For many, knowing that their product or service isn’t coming at the expense of an employee’s health and safety is a key consideration. If a brand has a reputation for neglecting its staff’s needs, it will likely struggle to become a preferred choice for a large segment of the market and talented industry professionals seeking employment.
With ISO 45001 certification, your organisation can demonstrate its commitment to going above and beyond when it comes to health and safety in the workplace.
Making organisational changes that result in cost savings can be risky in itself. While you want to look for opportunities to cut costs, you also need to ensure this isn’t done at the expense of the quality or safety of your operations and product or service.
If you’re cutting corners, this could subsequently be putting staff in harm’s way.
While ISO 45001 certification is an investment, when reviewing and refining your OHS management systems, you can identify inefficiencies and streamline processes across all your organisation’s processes. This means you can enjoy cost savings both now and over time, without sacrificing the safety of your workplace.
Boost employee morale and motivation
When your organisation makes ISO 45001 compliance a priority, employees are made to feel safe and valued in the workplace.
With staff feeling like they can come into the workplace without their health and/or safety being jeopardised, employee morale and motivation generally increase. The flow-on effect of this is less staff turnover, which lowers recruitment and training costs.
Get an outside perspective
It’s easy for those within an organisation to become accustomed to their familiar way of doing things. This can make it difficult for management and employees to pick up on certain areas of improvement and the like, which would stand out to someone from outside the company.
An outside perspective from your ISO 45001 internal auditor provides you with invaluable feedback for improving OHS procedures. This can be leveraged to assist your business in identifying and eliminating inefficiencies, which, in turn, often delivers cost savings.
Reduce the rate of workplace illnesses and injuries
ISO 45001 is the standard for occupational health and safety, so its fundamental purpose is, of course, to reduce the rate of workplace illnesses and injuries. This not only keeps staff out of harm’s way, but also results in there being less injury-related costs for the company.
Serious incidents could lead to costly court proceedings that leave businesses under immense financial pressure, but more importantly, their occurrence could significantly impact the affected worker long into the future and even leave them with life-long injuries or illnesses. By getting ISO 45001 certified, you can proactively mitigate risks to avoid such outcomes.
Easily integrated with ISO standards
ISO standards now use a uniform framework, which makes them easy to integrate and implement simultaneously. This mean, if you achieve ISO 45001 compliance, you can also much more easily get certified with other standards like ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.
With all of your systems functioning harmoniously, your company can reduce documentation and duplication, improve your processes and procedures and maintain and update systems with ease.
Measure ongoing OHS performance
ISO 45001 is designed to support continual improvement, so your business can constantly be looking for opportunities to improve.
Maintained compliance relies on a business’ ability to monitor, review and revise its operations to ensure they are consistently performing at the required level. This is often achieved through the completion of regular audits.
With everything from an improved reputation to improved performance in mind, ISO 45001 certification can help your organisation gain a competitive advantage.
In this way, your commitment to safety not only keeps employees protected in the workplace, but also gives your business the means to operate at the frontier of your industry and reap the benefits.
Challenges solved by ISO 45001
ISO 45001 helps organisations develop lean, maintainable systems to target critical safety challenges.
A common challenge, especially in high-risk workplaces, is preventing employees from experiencing work-related injuries and illnesses. ISO safety management systems are designed to combat this. It provides organisations with a proven framework for identifying risks and inefficiencies in their existing systems, so they can take proactive measures to alleviate these. This means you can control hazards and avoid preventable accidents, as opposed to dealing with the repercussions, such as injured staff and the costs associated with this.
Many organisations also encounter challenges when working to build a culture of safety in the workplace. A core component of ISO 45001 certification is the need for commitment to safety from all organisation members, including everyone from top management to frontline works. Without this, building a culture of safety and maintaining systems will be an uphill battle.
ISO 45001 also helps organisation overcome the challenge of keeping processes consistent across all operations. This can be particularly challenging in instances where businesses have locations in multiple countries, as health and safety legislation and requirements can differ from place to place. ISO 45001 compliance ensures an organisation’s systems are meeting the same set of OHS expectations, regardless of location.
Getting (and staying) ISO 45001 certified
Want to get ISO 45001 certified? Here’s how you can:
- Ensure there is commitment from top management: need to lead change by understanding the standard requirements and developing a suitable policy to guide future decisions.
- Plan, plan, plan: when getting started, make sure to set goals and deadlines, determine how you will satisfy the requirements of ISO 45001 and identify workplace hazards so risks can be assessed.
- Implement your plan: develop the systems needed to support and drive improved health and safety in the workplace, while also making any suitable adjustments along the way.
- Monitor OHS performance: conduct an ISO internal audit, which will help you determine the effectiveness of your business’ efforts and if you’re meeting initial goals.
- Review and improvement: work proactively to continually identify and mitigate risks, so OHS management systems are improved over time.