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Why is a Health & Safety Management System important?

Businesses owe a duty of care to safeguard health and safety at the workplace and any regulations relevant to their activities.

It is becoming more and more important that organisations can demonstrate that they are thinking about their health & safety duties. But it is not just a case of ‘doing the right thing’, there’s also a strong business case to putting in place a strong health and safety management system.

Businesses owe a duty of care to safeguard health and safety at the workplace and they must have an awareness of the main provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Act and subordinate regulations relevant to their activities.

The primary purpose of the Health and Safety at Work Act should be to help prevent death, injury and ill-health within the workplace – not simply to prosecute offenders – and this objective should not be forgotten, despite the increased amount of health and safety prosecutions, particularly of individuals, in recent years.

In order to reduce the risk of prosecution and maintain a preventative approach to health and safety, businesses should:

  • Develop and regularly review their health and safety policies;

  • Properly assess the risks posed by their activities;

  • Consult their employees about anything that could significantly affect their health and safety at work; and

  • Seek the advice of competent health and safety professionals to ensure that they are discharging their legal duties.

ISO 45001 is an Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) which will make sure you meet these legal obligations as well as providing a system for measuring and improving your health and safety impact.

ISO 45001:2018, as the designation suggests, is a relatively new standard in the ISO community, and is based on OHSAS 18001, as well as conventions and guidelines of the International Labour Organization including ILO OSH 2001, and other national standards. It includes elements that are additional to BS OHSAS 18001 which it replaced over a three-year migration period from 2018 to 2021.

The key additions in ISO 45001 compared to OHSAS 18001 are:

  • Context of the organisation

  • Understanding the needs and expectations of workers and other interested parties - interested parties would include workers, suppliers, subcontractors, clients, and regulatory authorities

  • Risk and opportunities - this would include enhancing health and safety at the workplace

  • Leadership and management commitment

  • Planning

ISO 45001 follows the High Level Structure of other ISO standards, such as ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015, which makes integration of these standards easier.

There can be a range of benefits to companies who use an ISO 45001 OHSMS, such as:

  • Building an organisation around H&S best practice (particularly useful if you operate in a high-risk sector)

  • Reducing third party audits - if you work in a high-risk sector, you can often by-pass the need for supplier audits if you can produce evidence of having an OHSMS in place

  • Reducing risk of accidents and incidents

  • Improving employee motivation, awareness, and morale if you can show you take their H&S welfare seriously

  • Lowering insurance premiums

  • Improving managerial oversight for H&S - remember, what you can’t meaningfully manage you can’t meaningfully improve

  • Continually looking for new H&S risks (e.g. a global pandemic!) and opportunities for improvement

The true value of ISO 45001 comes from linking your business strategy and your health and safety management system - not developing a standalone set of documents.

Using ISO 45001 to help manage risks and contractors, core and support processes, equipment and people gives you the opportunity not only to control but to assess and improve the health and safety of your workers, subcontractors, clients and others.

If you would like to look at how to implement an ISO 45001 Health & Safety management system, then simply contact us.

Or, if you want to see what's involved in more detail, then get a completely free, no obligation, totally tailored ISO Gap Analysis for your business (only available to UK businesses).

Article originated in The Ideas Distillery blog

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