Every day, thousands of workers are either injured on the job or lose their lives due to fatal workplace accidents. Needless to say, the human cost of workplace accidents is unacceptable and must be combated until every worker is safe at their place of employment.
In addition to the human costs, there are financial costs associated with occupational injuries. These can be broken down into two different categories: direct costs and indirect costs.
Direct and indirect costs; Workplace safety ISO
Direct costs are the costs associated with resolving the injury sustained or loss of life, while indirect costs relate to the loss in productivity, administrative expenses and other costs resulting from the injured employee’s incapacitation.
Safe Work Australia research estimates the yearly financial costs of workplace accidents for Australian businesses at $61.8 million.
Regardless of where you stand, these numbers are not good. Not for workers, nor for businesses. Fortunately, legislators, regulators and standard bodies have been leading the fight for the improvement of workplace safety standards for decades. In Australia, the construction industry ranks third among the deadliest industries with double the national average fatality rate and fifth with most serious injuries sustained, according to Safe Work Australia.
ISO 45001 requirements; Occupational health and safety
At the forefront of the quest for continual work health and safety improvement is the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). After several failed attempts by many standard bodies around the world to develop occupational health and safety (OH&S) standards that can achieve world-wide recognition, in March of 2018, ISO released its ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (Iso 45001), an internationally recognised standard that describes the requirements for an Occupational health & Safety Management System (OH&SMS).
ISO 45001 aims to offer a clear framework to organisations seeking to improve their OH&S performance. Even though, ISO 45001 can be used by organisations across all industries, it’s as if it’s been tailor-made for the construction industry.
Debarment of workplace incidents; ISO 45001 benefits
As opposed to industry regulators who seem to place greater emphasis on clients and principal designers in terms of OH&S responsibilities, ISO 45001 adopts a different approach directed at top management and high-level decision makers with a stronger focus on their OH&S requirements and responsibilities. In doing so, it puts the onus on them to provide their workers with safe and healthy workplaces and makes them accountable for the prevention of workplace accidents and ill-health, as opposed to just unloading that responsibility onto safety consultants and merely providing support with the management system. Don’t forget to follow iso 45001 audit checklist.
ISO 45001; Universal and general Standard
ISO 45001 aims to create safe and healthy workplaces for all employees and visitors by controlling all the elements that might cause illness, injury, and in some cases death, through the mitigation of adverse physical, mental, and cognitive effects on their employees. As the first international standard to cover all these areas, ISO 45001 comes in as a new, comprehensive, stand-alone standard, not a revision or update of any of its predecessors. Generally due to the importance of workplace’s safety, iso 45001 requirements must be taken seriously.
The standard also emphasises that OH&S is everyone’s responsibility, not just the higher-ups. Employees at all levels including subcontractors and direct employees must take part in OH&S decision-making in areas that affect them. This is fundamental to the hazard identification process and allows for a better management of OH&S risks.
ISO 45001 vs OHSAS 18001; Subcontractors activities
Additionally, ISO 45001 introduces the idea that OH&S considerations should take place before the project begins. They must form a fundamental part of the procurement process. Once subcontractors have been retained, organisations are responsible for coordinating the applicable sections of the OH&S management system to all relevant parties on site. Moreover, since primary contractors cannot always control what their subcontractors do, significant improvements to OH&S performance can be achieved throughout the entire supply chain with the adoption of two-way responsibility with subcontractors. This does not mean that the primary contractor is discharged from their OH&S responsibilities. It simply takes into account that when it comes to subcontractor activities, it is important to consider that certain responsibilities to reduce potential hazards are beyond the primary contractor’s control.
ISO 45001 Checklist; Mental health is as important as workplace safety
Another key element that sets ISO 45001 apart is “Context”. Through a proper understanding of the organisation and its context, the standard can easily be scaled to cover the many permutations of various contractors on a single site. ISO 45001 applies to construction organisations regardless of their size.
Similarly to safety hazards, mental health should also be treated with the utmost seriousness. In Australia, workers in construction are more than twice as likely to commit suicide as other people. Every year, 190 construction industry workers commit suicide due to mental health and stress-related conditions. ISO 45001 incorporates key requirements that can significantly improve stress levels at work. Those requirements include exhibiting leadership around health and safety. Upper management needs to foster, manage, and support a culture that encourages the establishment of a safe and healthy workplace. This includes employing risk-based thinking which is not confined to negative outcomes and encouraging participation and consultation among decision-makers and workers. When workers’ views are sought and considered in important organisational decision-making, it makes them feel more connected to their teams, increases their love for their jobs and contributes to a higher sense of fulfilment in their work.