As any smart employer knows, maintaining a high level of workplace health and safety is essential – not only to avoid disaster, but also to protect your reputation and motivate your staff.
In fact, the implementation and maintenance of a recognised safety management system should be a priority.
I know, there are many ‘priorities’ for business owners these days, and managing them all can be time-consuming and expensive – especially for SMEs. But the cost of not having an efficient safety management system in place could be even greater.
Workplace Safety Legislation
Whilst most businesses have some form of workplace safety system in place, there are too few that use a comprehensive system, such as OHSAS 18001 or AS/NZS 4801. However, with the tightening up of workplace safety legislation in Australia, that might be about to change.
The whole point of a safety management system is to eliminate the risks and circumstances that could lead to an accident. It is also supposed to protect the health of your employees, customers and other stakeholders, as much as possible.
So you may well have put training programs in place to help workers better use the equipment, but what about all the other possible risks? The best way to ensure all of these are covered is by using a systematic approach, which international standards OHSAS 18001 and AS/NZS 4801 provide.
There are five important steps needed to make this happen, and the first must come from the top. It is crucial that management is prepared to proactively support the system. Once that commitment is established, an organisation needs to plan and implement its safety management system, measure and evaluate, and review and improve.
That’s how international standards work; they provide a framework in which you can develop your management strategy, and a logical process by which you can monitor and improve your system.
Clearly, another crucial part of any workplace safety management system is training, for all concerned. OHSAS 18001 training is highly recommended, and is both thorough and accessible. It will help your employees understand why a new system is being introduced, and how they will reap the benefits.
It is a proven fact that employees who feel cared for by their organisation are more motivated, and therefore more productive. Generally, this will also relate to fewer sick days. In addition, your reputation as an employer will be improved, which can boost your market share of new customers.
As an employer, you have a legal obligation to protect everyone on your work site, but there is also a moral obligation to ‘do the right thing’. Implementing an OHSAS 18001 or AS/NZS 4801 safety management system isn’t a guarantee of 100% safety, but it will greatly reduce the risks and lessen the chance of an accident.
Recent Changes to Legislation
If you have had a safety management system in place for some time, it may be time to upgrade and update, as many laws have changed. For example, GHS – which relates to the classification and labelling of chemicals – became mandatory on January 1, 2017.
If your business deals with chemicals with physical hazards (flammable liquids), health hazards (carcinogens) and/or environmental hazards (pollution potential), you could be affected by the changes and need to update your safety strategy.
There have also recently been changes to mining health and safety legislation, as well as the reinstatement of the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
Mental Health Important
When we think of workplace safety, we tend to think of accidents but, as mentioned earlier, legislation also covers the health of your employees. In fact, increasingly, there is also concern about the mental health of Australian workers.
Safe Work Australia recently published two reports on poor mental health in the workplace. In one report, it was estimated that productivity losses due to poor management commitment to psychological health and safety in the workplace costs employers around $6 billion a year.
The second report concerned workplace bullying and harassment which, the research shows, contributes significantly to mental health issues.
Does your current workplace safety management system cover employee health and wellbeing, as well as physical risks? OHSAS 18001 does.
Better Understand Your Responsibilities
As a result of more organisations implementing this globally respected safety management system, there is also a growing demand for OHSAS 18001 lead auditor courses. Not only are more individuals choosing to switch careers, to become an OHSAS 18001 lead auditor, but many business owners are also undergoing this training, to better understand their responsibilities.
OHSAS 18001 training is available now in Brisbane, at SC Training Centre. A variety of training is available to suit your needs and goals, and all courses are Exemplar Global-certified.
Successful businesses are made up of many different, and equally important systems, and sometimes it can be hard to prioritise the costs. However, to be a responsible business owner, the safety of your employees and customers should always come first.