Despite the safety and wellbeing of employees being of paramount importance to organisations across a wide range of industries worldwide, the International Labour Organisation reports that a staggering 2.3 million people a year still die due to work-related accidents, with a further 300 million sidelined due to non-fatal accidents.
In an effort to significantly reduce this alarming number of workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses, the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has developed the International Standard ISO 45001, an occupational health and safety management system designed to create safer working conditions around the globe.
Mark Collins, director of workplace safety company A-Safe Australasia, is a strong advocate for ISO 45001 and believes compliance with the standard brings with it a wide range of benefits for both employers and their employees.
“Implementing the ISO 45001 safety management system has been crucial to insuring not only the safety of the employees of A-Safe Australasia, which is everyone from warehouse workers to those working on-site doing site surveys and installations, but also the safety of the many sub-contractors we use,” says Mark.
The process of becoming 1SO 45001 certified is a rigorous process that stretches out over several months, but Mark is adamant that it is all worth the effort – especially when it comes to aligning yourself with other companies with which you may conduct business.
“When two companies are compliant with the one internationally recognised standard it makes the process of them conducting business together a whole lot simpler,” says Mark. “It also sends a clear signal to other companies that you take your own company’s safety management system seriously and it can set you apart from competitors who haven’t yet complied.”
Implemented over 12 months ago by A-Safe’s Health Safety Environment Advisor Laura Biddle, Mark also cites aligning with ISO 45001 as an important way to stay up to date with the latest safety standard developments.
“Doing it to grow our own knowledge in terms of safety for our employees was a big motivator,” says Mark. “It has meant we have been more safety conscious in the warehouse and on-site, and that is always going to create a happier work environment for everyone.”
The knock-on effect of from taking such a serious approach and adhering to a globally-recognised standard means that staff are now taking a far more proactive approach to safety matters, says Mark.
“We’ve been getting a lot of feedback from employees about potential safety improvements,” he says. “They’ve been approaching us, which is fantastic. It means we are getting input from the ground up and it’s not just a set of changes being mandated by management.”
This approach to safety is key to understanding the ISO 45001 International Standard, which has been designed to grow and adapt to policies and procedures that naturally change over time.
“It’s a constantly evolving safety management system, which is brilliant,” says Mark. “There’s this continual improvement to your system, meaning there’s no risk of resting on your laurels and letting your standards slip in any way. By always monitoring and updating your system you’re letting your staff know that you have their safety and well-being front-of-mind.”
While not every company has yet to take the step toward becoming ISO 45001 certified, it is expected that the safety management system standard, first introduced in 2018, will soon become the norm for businesses all over the globe.
“Although there are still a lot of people who haven’t transitioned over from the AS/NZS 4801 safety standard yet, it is becoming a lot more prevalent, especially with big businesses,” says Mark.
“When we deal with a big company like Paccar Australia, Cushman and Wakefield, Hansen Yunken and Orora which adhere to ISO 4500, it becomes a form of mutual recognition since where you sit effects them, and vice versa.
Ultimately you want to send a message that you’re on top of your safety management system and have all of your ducks lined up in a row, and more big companies are taking heed that it’s something they need to get on board with.”