What is a WHSMS (Work Health and Safety Management System)?
Introduction to WHSMS
Work Health and Safety Management Systems (WHSMS) are a systematic approach to managing safety in an organization. They are designed to identify and control hazards, reduce the likelihood of accidents and incidents, and improve overall safety performance. WHSMS are used in a wide variety of industries, including aviation, construction, and manufacturing.
What is the ISO Standard for WHSMS?
ISO standards are recognized and respected worldwide, and many organizations choose to implement them to improve their operations and demonstrate their commitment to quality and safety. Some common ISO standards include ISO 9001 (Quality Management), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management), ISO 27001 (Information Security Management), and ISO 45001 (Occupational Health and Safety Management).
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed the standard for WHSMS, which is called ISO 45001:2018 Occupational health and safety management systems — Requirements with guidance for use. This is the international standard for Work Health and Safety Management Systems. This standard provides a framework for organizations to establish, implement, maintain, and improve their WHSMS. It also helps organizations to align their WHSMS with other management systems, such as quality management and environmental management systems.
Why Should My Company Invest in a WHSMS?
Workplace injuries can have a significant economic impact on individuals, companies, and the Australian economy as a whole. According to Safe Work Australia, the total cost of workplace injuries and illnesses in Australia in the 2017-18 financial year was estimated to be $61.8 billion, which represents 4.1% of the country’s GDP.
This cost includes both direct and indirect costs, such as:
- Direct costs: These include medical expenses, workers’ compensation payments, and the cost of replacing damaged equipment or property.
- Indirect costs: These include lost productivity, absenteeism, and the cost of training replacement workers. Indirect costs can often be more significant than direct costs and may continue long after the injury has occurred.
The cost of workplace injuries varies depending on the severity of the injury, the industry, and the size of the company. However, regardless of the cost, it is important for companies to prioritize workplace safety and implement effective WHSMS to reduce the risk of workplace injuries and their associated costs.
Having a Workplace Health and Safety Management System (WHSMS) in place is important for several reasons:
- Protecting employees: A WHSMS helps identify and control workplace hazards, reducing the risk of injury or illness to employees. By creating a safe work environment, employees are more likely to be productive and satisfied in their jobs.
- Compliance with legal requirements: Many countries have laws and regulations governing workplace safety. Implementing a WHSMS can help ensure compliance with these requirements, reducing the risk of legal action and fines.
- Cost savings: Workplace accidents and illnesses can be costly for both employers and employees. By implementing a WHSMS, employers can reduce the costs associated with workplace incidents, such as medical bills and workers’ compensation claims.
- Improved reputation: Companies that prioritize workplace safety are often viewed more favorably by employees, customers, and the public. Implementing a WHSMS can help improve the company’s reputation and attract top talent.
- Continuous improvement: A WHSMS is a dynamic system that can be improved over time. Regular monitoring and evaluation of the system can help identify areas for improvement and lead to a safer, healthier workplace for all.
How Does My Company Get a WHSMS?
To become certified to ISO 45001, organizations must go through a certification process that involves an independent assessment of their Work Health and Safety Management Systems by a certified third-party auditor. This assessment is designed to verify that the organization’s SMS meets the requirements of the standard. Once the organization has been certified, they are required to undergo regular surveillance audits to ensure that they continue to meet the requirements of the standard.
ISO 45001 is based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle, which is a systematic approach to continuous improvement. The standard requires organizations to establish a policy for occupational health and safety (OH&S), establish objectives and targets for OH&S, and implement and maintain the SMS. The standard also requires organizations to conduct regular OH&S reviews and to communicate with workers and other interested parties about their SMS.
Policies and Procedures
A WHS management system helps businesses streamline the process of authoring and distributing key documents, such as safe work procedures (SWPs) and other policies. These documents ensure safe work practices are followed in the workplace. A WHS management system typically features written safe work procedures (SWPs), which are policies that describe how safe work practices must be followed in a particular department or workplace. Additionally, a WHS management system typically includes other policies, such as safety standards and occupational health & safety guidelines. This system helps businesses stay compliant with workplace safety regulations and ensure safe work practices are followed.
To create a successful management system for your business, it’s important to select the right type for your organization. A paper-based management system would include written SWPs stored in a filing cabinet. A hybrid management system would feature written SWP stored both as hard copies and as soft copies.
Other ISO Standards
In addition to ISO 45001, there are other ISO standards that are relevant to SMS in Australia, including:
- ISO 31000:2018 Risk management – Guidelines
- ISO 14001:2015 Environmental management systems – Requirements with guidance for use
- ISO 9001:2015 Quality management systems – Requirements
These standards provide organizations with a framework for managing risks and improving their overall performance. By implementing these standards, organizations can improve their safety performance, reduce the likelihood of accidents and incidents, and improve their overall efficiency and effectiveness.
In Australia, there are several bodies that provide certification to ISO standards, including JAS-ANZ (Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand) and the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA). Organizations can choose to be certified by any of these bodies, but they must meet the requirements of the relevant standard.
A Summary of WHSMS
In summary, work health and safety management systems (WHSMS) are a systematic approach to managing safety in an organization. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed several standards for work health and safety management systems, including ISO 45001:2018 which is the international standard for Work Health and Safety Management Systems. Organizations can improve their safety performance, reduce the likelihood of accidents and incidents, and improve their overall efficiency and effectiveness by implementing these standards. To become certified to ISO 45001, organizations must go through a certification process that involves an independent assessment of their SMS by a certified third-party auditor and regular surveillance audits to ensure that they continue to meet the requirements of the standard.
For assistance in getting your business a work health and safety management system, please contact us.
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