What is AS/NZS 4801?

Let's talk about AS/4801 the occupational health and safety management system specification.

It's the international standard that sets up all the requirements of how to manage occupational health and safety and your occupational health and safety risks and threats in your organisation.

While setting up an occupational health and safety management system, we've observed that our clients find it really difficult to know where it starts and finishes OH&S in an organisation. It can get overwhelming quickly. We can get very nervous about the risks and threats that were exposed to, and there's lots of compliance requirements - particularly in countries like Australia and some of the first world countries where there are a very, very strong regulation - but more importantly, in other countries which have got evolving health and safety rules and regulations; we're not quite sure how far to go.

Setting up a system that follows either AS 4801 right here that we're talking, but equally if you look at OHSAS 18001 or the new emerging draft standard ISO 45001; they're all a very similar framework so if you're setting up a any of the safety management system standards you will find as you read each of those kind of that they're heading the format and the language and the terminology is very, very similar. You can often find that you might comply with all three standards.

Let's now move on to what's involved. It's about setting your OH&S policy, defining for your stakeholders in your public policy what your OH&S commitments will be.

The standard is looking for three commitments: it's looking for minimizing and avoiding injuries and illness, it's looking for continual improvement and it's looking for compliance with legal and other requirements. When you're putting that policy together and you're setting up the framework for OH&S in your organisation, you're looking to have those three commitments documented and obviously communicate it.

The next stage falls through the rest of the standard where we look at strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats in OH&S or a SWOT analysis. We build out a risk register, so your OHS or your health and safety risks, put into a risk register, then we start to form a plan, after we've identified those risks and that's SWOT analysis, we can inform ourselves on what the plan should be and we talk about things like who, what, when, where and how will we manage those OH&S issues that we've identified in our risk assessment phase.

Now the rest is really simple. It's important to put that plan into action to identify the things that people are going to do across the organization on a daily, weekly, monthly, basis to manage health and safety, to avoid those nasty injuries and illnesses that could eventuate.

The next phase as we move through the continuing improvement cycle is to set up your dashboard. What are the numbers from an OH&S perspective that you're going to manage? I think it would be important to look at things like the numbers of injuries, the numbers of illnesses, the numbers of hazards reported, if you've got lost time, if you've got people taking time off work, maybe a lost time injury frequency rate could be important, but it's important to get a clear picture of your organization's health and safety performance and you do that with a dashboard.

The rest is pretty straightforward, and follows the other management system standards; those things include management review, the internal audit and setting up your management system, much the same as a quality system or an environment system, where we've got our strategic planning process, we've got our doing part or our controls, we've got our dashboard where we do our monitoring and measurement, we do our internal audits, and we do our management review, and that informs the cycle of continual improvement.

What we're ultimately looking for here at Best Practice is you setting up a self-assessment system, setting up a management system so that you can manage your health and safety and then if we conduct an assessment for you, we can give you recognition that you've got a management system in place that is quite exciting.

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