ISO updates workplace safety standards

ISO updates workplace safety standards
PIAA urges caution with adoption of new OH&S standard

The new international standard for occupational health and safety systems, ISO 45001, is expected to be published this week, with PIAA telling members to proceed with caution.

Paul Mitchell, National Workplace Relations Manager for PIAA, says, “The printing and packaging industries are certainly concerned about the scope of this new standard.

“As an association, we are not against it, but are waiting for the body to see if it is applicable to Australian law before we encourage our members to get it.

The PIAA says it is supportive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (ACCI) recommendation for businesses to wait for a decision from Standards Australia's Technical Committee on Occupational Health & Safety Management before moving to adopt the new international standard ISO 45001, occupational health and safety management systems.

Mitchell says, “ISO 45001 has been looked at for quite a while. In May 2016 Standards Australia voted against the draft version following concerns.

"Australia has one of the most stringent existing occupational health and safety frameworks. Any additional burden on business or further hoops to jump through over and above what is reasonable, should be met with caution. At the end of the day the new international standard should complement existing law, not complicate it.”

Jennifer Low, associate director of work health and safety, ACCI, says, “Standards Australia will need to determine whether it adopts it in full, abandons the field, or creates a hybrid version fit for the Australian context.

“Some 70 countries have been involved in the development of the draft international standard. Several elements appear incompatible with Australian legislation and are highly prescriptive, outside what we now consider good practice.

“ISO 45001 was first proposed in March 2013, and has since undergone various stages of development. However, it is not the first time Australia has expressed concerns over its implementation. Standards Australia voted down an earlier draft in May 2016, noting there needed to be greater emphasis on applying known controls rather than unnecessary risk assessment.”

Low says the ACCI was particularly concerned that elements of the draft standard were inconsistent with the Building Code 2016, She says safety management system accreditation was widely used in government tendering, particularly in the building and construction industry, and that changes to the current requirements could impose major costs on employers.

“A number of decisions will need to be made both internationally and locally over the next 12 months. The Australian Chamber will continue to work with Standards Australia, businesses and Governments to ensure any changes to safety management standards in Australia are genuinely needed, relevant to the Australian context and not overly burdensome to business.”

PIAA says it is supportive of the view that Standards Australia's Technical Committee is the best body to determine how the new international standard will fit into the Australian regulatory landscape, if at all.

"We appeal for engagement with industry and employers to best understand how to straddle an increase in regulation with genuine business efficacy concerns", Mitchell says.

Source: Australian Printer

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