Investing In Health And Safety

The health and safety of our employees is paramount. Therefore, it is every organisations responsibility to ensure that we protect our workers from risks and hazards that can adversely affect
08 Sep 2018 10:35
Investing In Health And Safety
Participants at the ISO 45001 training workshop organised by the Fiji National University’s National Training and Productivity Centre.

The health and safety of our employees is paramount.
Therefore, it is every organisations responsibility to ensure that we protect our workers from risks and hazards that can adversely affect our worker’s life and also disrupt business operations.
It is mandatory under the Health And Safety At Work Act (HASAWA) 1996 for organisations to ensure that they protect the health and safety of every individual at their workplace.
This whether they are the workers, non-workers or anyone that has interest in their business.

One way to do this, is through the Ocuppational Health and Safety management system.
The OHS management system (OHSMS) is a guideline for organisations which helps boost employee morale, commits management to OHS, and lower the rates of employee absenteeism.
It also helps manage loss-time injuries, and non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, stress, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.
Many organisations in Fiji have a customised OHSMS in place which is specifically designed to meet their immediate OHS needs.
But for some organisations their customised OHS management systems are not able to provide the desired OHS results.
A solution to this is the International Organisation for Standardization’s (ISO’s) recently published standard ISO45001:2018 OHS management system – requirements with guidance for use.

Transform workplaces
It is believed that this new standard will help transform workplace practices globally and reduce the heart-rending peal of work related accidents and illnesses around the globe.
According to the International Labour Organisation (2017), on a global scale, around 2.7million fatal accidents are recorded annually, and Fiji is no exception.
We also form part of this global data.
The global statistics illustrates that almost 7700 workers die of work related diseases or injuries every day.
In addition, around 374 million non-fatal work-related injuries and illnesses each year contributes to extended absenteeism from work.
All organisations are responsible for the health and safety of their workers and others present at the workplace in terms of protecting their physical, psychological and mental health.
In Fiji, the HASAWA Act 1996 is the single most enabling legislation that safeguards the worker’s health and safety interests and as well promotes the implementation of a documented OHS management mystem.

Implementation missing
While it is noted that the transition from the Factories Act to HASAWA 1996 has generally improved the status of health and safety in the country, the implementation of an OHSMS at the industry levels is missing.
Some of the reasons for not implementing an OHSMS may be because it is an expensive exercise, lack of employer’s commitment towards employee’s health and safety, organisations being profit oriented, and a non-conducive work environment.

The new ISO 45001:2018 standard provides the guidelines for OHSMS, enabling organisations to provide a conducive and safe workplace that can prevent work-related injury and ill health.
This standard also establishes strategies that can help improve the workplace performance.
The newly launched ISO45002:2018 standard helps organisations to eliminate hazards and minimise OHS risks.
This includes minimising system deficiencies, alloings organisations to take advantage of OHS opportunities, and addresses OHSMS non-conformities in a systematic manner.
There are various benefits of the standard.
The potential benefits to an organisation of implementing an OHS management system is to:
nProvide the ability to consistently prevent injury and/or ill health to workers
nFacilitate safe and healthy workplaces
nFulfillment of legal requirements and other requirements
nTake effective preventative and protective measures
nAchievement of OHS Objectives (Source:ISO45001:2018)

The crux of the ISO 45001:2018 is that it is applicable to any organisation irrespective of its size, nature, and operations in Fiji.
Other benefits of the ISO 45001:2018 is that it is neither criteria specific, which means it is flexible in the way it assists organisations to achieve its OHS objectives and key performance indicators, nor it is prescriptive about the design of an OHSMS.

Therefore, this provides a leverage to organisations in Fiji who are currently operating on customised OHSMS and wish to transit in becoming fully ISO 45001:2018 certified.
Moreover, the standard has been deigned in such a way that it can be integrated easily with the new versions of ISO 9001 (quality management) and ISO 14001 (environmental management) as it follows a high level structure approach.
It is founded on the common elements found in all of ISO’s management systems standards and uses a simple Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) model.

This PDCA model provides a framework for organisations to plan what they need to put in place in order to minimise the risk of harm.
In Fiji, the National Training and Productivity Centre (NTPC) of the Fiji National University took a lead role in creating awareness and training on this new standard.
This was done through its inaugural national conference on OHS in April this year, and also a follow-up workshop in July this year.
Training on the new ISO 45001:2018 standard took place on the July 11-12, 2018 by the department of productivity and quality, of NTPC.
A total of 34 participants from various industries took part in the two-day training.
The training programme was designed to help organisations clearly understand the requirements of ISO45001:2018 OHSMS and how organisations in Fiji can implement this system.
These trained individuals are now fully equipped with the knowledge and skills to review their customised OHSMS back in their organisations, or if they want their organisations to be certified to the new ISO 45001:2018 standard.
It is encouraging to note from feedbacks received so far that industries are eager to implement standards that help their overall business objectives and at the same time commit to their workforce health and productivity.
The team at NTPC would like to plan and execute more trainings and consultancy activities in future to enable organisations to become ISO 45001:2018 certified.

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