Sekisui covers ISO 45001 transition in certification process

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A major international company has secured AS/NZS 4801 certification across its Australian operations, under a process involving a third-party contractor management provider and ensuring alignment with the new global Standard for OHS management systems, ISO 45001.

Sekisui House's work health and safety manger for NSW and Queensland, Darren Butt, told OHS Alert that the Japanese residential development company also introduced monitoring programs and KPIs to ensure its managers, departments and contractors meet its increasing safety, quality and environment expectations out in the field.

"Safety is not about the paperwork, it's about the application on the ground, the boots," he says.

Butt joined Sekisui in February this year, and conducted a full gap analysis to "see where we sat from a compliance perspective" at both the corporate and operational level.

He found its systems were already closely aligned with International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO) accreditation expectations and AS/NZS 4801 standards, but met with executives on how he believed Sekisui could be taken "to the next level" – seeking formal accreditation to show partners, suppliers and contractors that it is committed to managing and mitigating risks.

After gaining approval, Butt established a timeline and plan and eventually brought in a consultant to review the presentation to be put to an accreditation company.

This step identified two gaps that were "very quickly filled", and Sekisui achieved certification right across the business, from the national corporate and sales offices to its quality control and manufacturing facility in Ingleburn, NSW.

According to Butt, the move gave the company the opportunity to identify and establish a single safety system that all departments and projects could quickly and easily align to through documented processes and at the coal face.

For this reason, it was crucial to "establish some sort of alignment with our contractors", and they were required to go through the certification process, with a third-party contractor management provider helping Sekisui set benchmarks that its contractors and suppliers needed to achieve, he says.

"Along the way, if we lost a couple of contractors, we identified that they were probably the contractors that weren't going to come on the journey with us, the safety journey that we were establishing in the business."

But Sekisui didn't lose many, achieving a 98 per cent take up among established contractors in NSW, and experiencing similar results in the ongoing rollout in Queensland, Butt says.

Systems account for forecast growth

Butt notes that as part of the AS/NZS 4801 certification process, his team "looked at 45001 as being the benchmark of where we expect to move into".

As reported by OHS Alert, the finalised version of ISO 45001:2018 Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements with guidance for use was published in March (replacing OHSAS 18001 – see related article), and Standards Australia finished adapting it as AS/NZS ISO 45001:2018 a month ago (see related article).

Standards stressed that AS/NZS 4801 "will remain current" until regulators and other stakeholders determine otherwise, but hinted that Australia will fully transition to AS/NZS ISO 45001 over the next three years.

Butt says that with the help of the certification consultant and an international certifying company, Sekisui "identified where the key expectations will be in 45001".

He stresses that the company's systems are established for its expected future growth in construction, development and workforce numbers, rather than just the current climate and personnel.

The transition to AS/NZS ISO 45001 "should be negligible for the business from a documented process [perspective], it's just a case of maintaining the training internally to ensure that the personnel who are involved in the transition are aware of our processes", he says.

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