Take a look at the requirements of any Government tender – particular construction-related – and you’ll see a list of acceptable safety management systems. And while this makes things a bit harder for businesses that don’t have such a system in place, it is vastly improving the health and safety of our workers.
Some tenders go so far as to stipulate that it should be an ISO Safety Management System, now considered amongst the best in the world.
Every worker throughout the world deserves the right to be safe in the workplace, and that safety is the responsibility of both the employer and the employee.
Businesses are increasingly enrolling staff for safety management system training – especially those businesses who wish to apply for public tenders.
Killed on the job
And it’s not before time. In the first three months of this year, 22 Australian workers have been killed on the job.
Internal industry polls have shown that around 87% of workers think their workplace could be safer – and that’s something that must be addressed sooner rather than later.
A common mistake is to think that what passed as safety management 10, 20 years ago, is still relevant today. While some issues are the same, technology has totally changed how we work, and the tools we use.
In addition, the world is a much faster place these days, and our manufacturing processes reflect that. We use machinery that runs at lightning speed and the slightest lapse of concentration could end in tragedy.
Which standard to choose
It is for these reasons that ISO Safety Management Systems were developed, with the most common in use in Australia being AS/NZS 4801 and OHSAS 18001.
Both standards align well with others, prompting an increasing number of organisations to implement integrated safety management systems, where all the elements are drawn into one comprehensive package.
OHSAS 18001 was developed using an existing British standard as the model, while AS/NZS 4801 was developed by Australian and New Zealand standards associations.
There are many similarities between the two, although AS/NZS 4801 is mostly concerned with eliminating work-related injuries, and OHSAS 18001 is committed to the prevention of injury and ill health.
There are four main pillars to any safety management standard, and they cover the culture or mindset of the company regarding safety; the provision of a safe environment in which to work; relevant training in place to ensure safe working practices, and accountability.
Creating a mindset
The first point, regarding the mindset of the organisation, takes us back to an earlier point about responsibility. While it is most certainly the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace, there is also an expectation that employees will follow procedures and training and act in a responsible manner.
So, in that respect, you could say the mindset of an organisation is the most important point to consider – something that is talked about at length during safety management system training.
An integrated safety management system helps support this by creating a mindset, and a set of procedures, that run through all aspects of a business, creating consistency.
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