Do I need ISO 45001 for my business? | Hasmate health and safety
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Do I need ISO 45001 for my business?

Do I need ISO 45001 for my business?

Recently, I was contacted by a small start-up business asking if I could assist them to implement their ISO 45001 health and safety system.

Following the initial introductions, I asked the following questions:

  • When did you start your business?
    Answer – 2 years ago.
  • What type of business?
    Answer – transportation business.
  • How many employees do you have?
    Answer – 8.
  • Do you have a health and safety system in place?
    Answer – no.
  • Why does the business want to develop such a high-level health and safety system for your sized business?
    Answer – because the local authority that issues the license to operate said we had to have this type of health and safety system in place.

Reading through a copy of the contract conditions, there it was – in black and white – “the licensee is required to have in place a ISO 45001 health and safety system“, but what really got me perplexed was the following sentence, “the system does not have to be certified“.

Why have such a high-level health and safety standard for a low level risk business with 8 employees, when it’s not going to be tested, or to be realistic, not really understood or even used?

Is ISO 450o1 a must-have or a nice-to-have?

The purpose of this article is to describe where ISO 45001 can or does fit with the different levels of health and safety systems.

To describe the hierarchy, imagine a pyramid with several levels with 1 – 5 being the levels of importance for compliance to health and safety in New Zealand.

  1. The 2015 Health and Safety at Work Act and amendments.
  2. The 2016 Health and Safety at Work Regulations.
  3. The 2017 Hazardous Substance Regulations.
  4. National and industry standards and codes of practice.
  5. WorkSafe NZ guidelines.

The above are the requirements for the implementation of an effective business health and safety system or plan, to meet the legal requirements of a business in New Zealand and to have the records to prove due diligence to health and safety responsibilities.

The following are voluntary systems that are driven and implemented due to several internal or external factors. In several instances, the following systems are now becoming the norm to do business and very much part of the tendering process for contracts.

  1. An AS/NZS 45001 health and safety system
    This is a very high-level health and safety standard that is usually implemented by businesses wanting to be certified and recognized to an international level of health and safety competency. The qualification of this standard is that a business has developed and proven their systems to the standard and are audited by independent auditors. For any business who has not achieved any other ISO 9001 or similar standard, this can be an expensive process and requires a full commitment of the senior management of a business to understand the requirements, to be committed, to allocate budget and personnel to the development and management of the process. Hence, my concerns at the beginning of this article.
  2. Tōtika contractor prequalification
    This health and safety evaluation system was initially developed for the construction industry and contains not only the requirement for health and safety systems to meet the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act, but also some of the standards of ISO 45001. It is planned to extend this prequalification to other industry sectors.
  3. Contractor Prequalification
    Contractor prequalification is a lower-level qualification but has the advantage of providing the business with an alternative process that will allow them to apply for contracts and to show proof that they have the required health and safety systems in place.
    A key factor of both the Tōtika and the contractor prequalification systems is one of evidence or proof of compliance.
  4. Other industry health and safety standards

So, is ISO 45001 a must have or nice to have? This will depend on the size and scope of the business, or in some instance, driven by customers’ requirements.

From working in and with ISO systems for 24 years, the following 2 questions should be considered:

  • Will it make a difference to the effectiveness of the company’s health and safety systems, or in the words of the late Sir Peter Blake, make the boat go faster?
  • Will it be financially effective?

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Please contact us if you would like to discuss.