By Michael Selinger
After a significant journey to be adopted in Australia, the world’s first work health and safety (WHS) international standard, ‘ISO 45001’, has been published by Standards Australia this week.
As with the current Australian/New Zealand standard 4801, the international standard 45001 is designed to provide organisations with a framework for creating a safe workplace by implementing systems and processes to eliminate or reduce workplace injury as well as continually improve WHS performance.
In a press release issued on 17 October, the CEO of Standards Australia said that:
“Australian experts contributed heavily to ISO 45001, working with their international colleagues to deliver a standard outlining international best practice in the management of workplace safety”.
ISO 45001 is intended for use by any organisation, regardless of its size or the nature of its work.
The standard will assist an organisation to fulfil its legal requirements under the Australian safety laws by outlining an approach for the implementation of reasonably practicable steps to ensure safety.
The focus of the new standard is very much aligned with the WHS legislation in operation in all states and territories.
In particular the standard seeks to assist organisations to embody WHS in the overall management system of the organisation so that managers cannot simply delegate these responsibilities to a safety manager.
Employers looking to be compliant with the new international standard may therefore need to review their current framework, WHS responsibilities and level of training.
Currently AS/NZS 4801 is used to benchmark WHS management systems and a large number of employers will seek new business relying on a certification to that standard.
Certification is obtained through an independent auditor who reviews the operation of a WHS management system to certify it complies with the terms of the standard.
The purpose of the certification is to demonstrate that an organisation has implemented an effective system that is designed to eliminate risks to health and safety.
One issue is the status of AS/NZS 4801 and how long it will remain the applicable standard.
At this stage, it appears that there will be a three year transition from the AS/NZS 4801 to the new ISO 45001.
However, it is important to check with your JAS-ANZ Accredited certification body for the latest in how that transition will be implemented, and the impact that it may have on your certification.
The new ISO 45001 links in with other international standards that are currently used in Australia, being ISO 9001 (Quality) and ISO 14001 (Environmental).