During May 2016, Australia voted against approving the Draft International Safety Management Standard ISO45001. The “no” vote was not the majority, but it was a strong enough vote to send the draft back to the International Committee for further debate and, hopefully, further amendment.
Why is this important?
Many Australian organisations currently use the Australian / New Zealand Standard 4801:2001 for the purpose of developing and auditing their safety management systems. AS/NZ4801 is well overdue for review and it was scheduled to be updated by Standards Australia a few years ago.
Enter the International Standards Organisation (ISO), which added to the suite of standards covering quality and environmental management by commencing work on an international standard for safety management systems.
So, the Australian committee established to look at AS/NZ4801 (including representation from Ai Group) turned its efforts to participating in the international debate. The aim was, and still is, to influence an international standard so that it can meet the needs of Australian organisations, and be adopted within Australia, consistently with overseas organisations.
Anyone who has watched the progress of the national harmonisation of work health and safety laws in Australia may just begin to imagine how difficult it is to get agreement to a standard across all participating nations.
In its current form, the draft standard has some major issues that need to be addressed. These include how “OH&S risk” is defined; how consultation is addressed; and the importance of placing greater emphasis on applying known controls rather than unnecessary risk assessment. Standards Australia has issued a statement on the vote and the further work that is needed.
International meetings scheduled for June and September 2016 will consider the input of the participating nations, and a further draft standard will be released sometime after that.
In an increasingly globalised world, Australia wants to support the adoption of an international standard for safety management systems. Our ability to do this will depend on the response to our proposed changes and the importance of any outstanding issues.
What do you think? If we can’t get the standard modified to suit Australia, should Standards Australia recommence work to update AS/NZ4801:2001, or is international consistency too important for that to be the response? Have your say and start a conversation by leaving a comment below.
If you need advice or assistance with regard to your own Safety Management System, contact Trinette Jaeschke, Ai Group’s National Manager – Safety & Workers’ Compensation Services.