With the first month of 2021 almost behind us, it is great to see that the year is already off to a positive start. Business’ are slowly going back to ‘normal’, and the past couple of weeks has seen organisations across Australia welcome their staff back to onsite working. While this is certainly a positive development and a step in the right direction, it is important to note that there have been significant changes in federal and state government laws regarding employees in the workplace. Business’ have a duty to both familiarise themselves with these changes, and then ensure that their workplace is modified to reflect these laws.
Fortunately, there is an easy way for organisations to ensure that they are both meeting their legal obligations and demonstrating a commitment to the safety of their staff, through the implementation of an Occupational Health and Safety Management System. The ISO 45001 OH&S Standards are a globally recognised, proven successful, set of work health and safety standards that companies can implement to ensure that they are meeting their OH&S legal responsibilities, that they are on top of changes to workplace regulations, and that their staff and onsite visitors are given clear instructions of what they should be doing to help uphold a COVID-Safe workplace.
An OH&S Management Systems helps business’ improve the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees
The individual states and territories across Australia will have unique workplace rules and regulations, regarding upholding a COVID-Safe work environment. For example, recent changes in Victorian workplace rules and regulations include:
- Requiring all staff and visitors who are onsite for more than fifteen minutes to use their mobile phone to sign in with the QR Code on display, for the purposes of contact tracing.
- Business’ working within certain industries requiring people to undergo a temperature test to gain admission into the premises.
- Many staff juggling work from home and the office, which sees them onsite for a few days a week and working from home the remainder of the time. This ensures that workplaces are not running to capacity, and that adequate social distancing measures are in place between staff.
The ISO 45001 OH&S Standards can help business’ get on top of their workplace obligations, by providing them with effective, proactive strategies to develop safer, more supportive, work environments. This is specifically achieved through some of its clauses requiring companies to identify relevant legislation pertaining to their business type and ensure that the legislation is available to them.
They are then required to cross-reference their legal obligations with the risk assessment portions of the standards, and thus develop pre-emptive strategies that work at keeping their workplace safe whilst also meeting their legislative requirements. Further, the Standards help business’ adopt a forward-thinking approach when amending their business systems or organisational structure, as they are required to factor in their legal obligations when developing, enhancing, upholding, or streamlining their existing management system.
Then, to prove that they are meeting their legal obligations, business’ will be required to develop a means of demonstrating, both internally within the operations and externally to relevant parties, how they are meeting their legal obligations, the steps they are taking to minimise potential risks from impacting operations, and so on.
The ISO 45001 OH&S Standards have been in effect since 2018, and are replacing the previous OH&S Standards of OHSAS 18001 and AS/NZS 4801, and companies that were previously certified to one of those standards have until September 2021 to migrate. The migration process is easy and hassle-free, as it cross-references the OH&S Standards that business’ have already met through certification to the older standards, and then simply works at ensuring the rest of their operations meets the requirements outlined in the new ISO 45001 guidelines.
By certifying to the ISO 45001 Standards your business is demonstrating to staff, customers, and stakeholders that it recognises that there have been significant changes to workplace legislation over the past year, and that it is taking the necessary steps to ensure that it is meeting its legal and regulatory responsibilities, and providing staff and onsite visitors with a safe, supportive workplace. Further, the standards help business’ to:
- Cross-reference existing legal requirements with the individual requirements of their organisation. Business’ may be subject to different workplace laws, depending on factors such as the size of their organisation, how many people are required to be onsite at one time, the sort of work it performs, and so on. The standards help business’ to understand how existing workplace laws apply to them, and what steps they need to take to achieve regulatory compliance.
- Confirm that meeting their legal responsibilities remains a key priority to the operations, by developing processes to ensure that attaining their OH&S legal requirements is a factor always taken into consideration when the company changes its operational structure. For example, if the company makes the decision to expand its operations and hire new employees, then the standards would help the business to ensure that appropriate action is taken to ensure that social distancing requirements and other legal obligations continue to be met, and if need be, appropriate organisational adjustments are implemented.
The ISO 45001 Standards protect business’ by ensuring everything is done the right way
A core strength of the ISO 45001 Standards is that it has a number of clauses and requirements business’ must demonstrate that they have met in order to achieve certification, which in turn, ensures companies are meeting their legal obligations. Through certification to these standards, business’ are able to demonstrate to their staff, stakeholders, customers, and regulatory bodies that they have conducted a thorough risk assessment of their worksites, identified a number of potential OH&S risks and taken active steps to ensure they don’t become a health and safety issue, and have a clear incident reporting procedure in place, so that in the event of an issue, everyone onsite knows what to do to minimise harm to themselves and others, whilst getting the issue safely under control.
Depending on the size and scope of your business, as well as the duties it carries out, your company stands to gain from the ISO 45001 OH&S Standards in any number of ways. If you want to know more about how these standards could be specifically tailored to your organisation to ensure it gets the utmost benefit from them, then please give Anitech’s safety consultants a call today on 1300 802 163.
Give them a run down of your company, and relevant information such as the number of staff you need onsite daily, and they will be able to explain to you how these standards can be specifically tailored to your organisation, to ensure that it achieves regulatory compliance and remains a safe, supportive environment for staff. Doesn’t this sound like a great business strategy?
Please click here to read more about what steps business can be taking to develop a safe, supportive work environment.