What with Internet slang, initialisms, abbreviations and acronyms, it can be pretty hard to decipher what it’s all about sometimes! And business talk is one of the worst offenders.
Whether we’re talking about a new business trend, an Act or regulation, or an organisation, we’re bombarded.
And workplace health and safety has more than its fair share, what with OHSAS, SMS and AS/NZS – so what does it all mean?
Let’s start with OHSAS 18001 and AS/NZS 4801. Both are Standards that deal with the safety and wellbeing of all stakeholders within a business.
Both Standards can be used with other Standards, the most common being ISO 9001 Quality Management, and ISO 14001 Environmental Management.
OHSAS 18001 was developed using a British Standard as the basis, and it’s all to do with preventing injury and ill health.
AS/NZS 4801 was developed by Australian and New Zealand Standards bodies, and deals more with the elimination of work-related injury.
are general workplace health and safety Standards that can be used by any
organisation, but there
are also more specific health
and safety Standards for industries such as mining, health
Safety Management System
They all involve creating and maintaining an SMS – a Safety Management System.
Workplace health and safety is a tricky one. It is generally accepted that it is the responsibility of the employer, and so it is, to provide safe and appropriate working conditions, training and equipment.
But it is also the responsibility of the employee, to act responsibly and properly use the tools as trained to do so.
So, for example, if an employee was injured because a piece of equipment failed, the onus would be on the employer. But if an employee turned up to work badly hung-over, and didn’t wear the safety clothing provided and was injured, that would be the responsibility of the employee.
Minimise the risk
It’s much harder for an employer to prove that the employee was responsible, than vice versa, so the best thing is to minimise the risk of anything going wrong in the first place.
By pursuing, say, AS/NZS 4801, an organisation can implement an effective workplace health and safety management system; be sure that it complies with health and safety legislation; show stakeholders that it does comply, and achieve certification.
AS/NZS 4801 certification has been proven to indentify and management risk in the workplace; reduce accidents and injuries; improve an organisation’s reputation for being responsible, and enable that organisation to bid for public sector contracts and tenders.
As we have explained, OHSAS 18001 is also an excellent framework for an efficient safety management system. It has the same benefits as AS/NZS 4801, and also has the potential to reduce public liability insurance costs.
Undergoing OHSAS 18001 training, or any SMS course, is the start, and there are specialist organisations that can help you write and implement a management system, train your staff and achieve certification.
An important element of an SMS is auditing, to ensure the system is performing well and is up-to-date. And those same specialists can help with that, too, providing, for example, AS/NZS 4801, OHSAS 18001 lead auditor courses.
And while it does take some time and money, this should be seen as a solid investment, and one that will be recouped over time, as your organisation’s reputation improves – because you’re doing ‘the right thing’ – and your customer base grows. More to the point, it would cost a whole lot more if a serious accident occurred on your premises.
In the first three months of this year alone, 22 Australian workers were killed on the job. Who would want to live with that on their conscious?
Of course, a death in the workplace is the worst possible scenario, but even an injury could cost you dearly.
A look at key statistics on work-related injuries, diseases and fatalities of workers in Australia showed a 42.6% incidence rate (per 1000 workers) in 2013-14.
Muscular stress while lifting or handling objects caused 33% of serious claims in 2012-13, while falls, trips and slips of a person caused 22% of serious claims. As you can see these are not major or unusual incidents, rather they are injuries that could easily happen any day at work.
The knock-on of that, of course, is lost time and compensation costs. In 2011-12, looking across all industries, time off work due to workplace injury varied between four weeks and seven weeks. And compensation paid ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Legislation, safety management systems, manuals, procedures and policies – they all seem a bit more relevant now, right? A little more desirable than dealing with the trauma of a workplace death, or the cost and inconvenience of long-term sick leave.
OHSAS 18001 training, an SMS course or AS/NZS 4801 training really are worth the investment of time and money to ensure that when it comes to workplace safety, your organisation is doing the very best it possibly can.