Achieving certification to the Australian or international standards for occupational health and safety or environmental management systems does not mean that a business is automatically compliant with its legal duties under OHS or environmental law.
Over the years, we have provided advice to businesses of all sizes. When we ask business owners or directors or CEOs to tell us how they think their companies stack up on OHS requirements, we are often surprised when their response consists of statements like “Well, we are AS4801 (or ISO18001) certified!”
There is no doubt that accreditation is a symbol of assurance—a valuable asset in itself. But, the hard truth is that OHS certification does not necessarily mean legally ‘compliant’!
An auditor will assess a company’s OHS management system against the audit criteria that are detailed in the applicable standard. This audit will only prove that the company has a system in place that meets the criteria, but it cannot be relied upon as evidence that the company is meeting its legal duties.
As an organisation over the past 15 years, we have dealt with many companies that have achieved OHS certifications and felt that they are safe and protected against legal and other aspects. But there are occasions after conducting site-safety audits or delivering consultancy advice, where we have found that there are legal compliance gaps which could potentially expose the client to litigation.
Some certification providers have on occasion, also referred their clients to our company to support them to achieve compliance.
Achieving verifiable compliance with the OHS Act and Regulations has to be the first priority. A certification should be pursued as a reward for achieving your first priority.
By John Darcy, Senior OHS Consultant, Anitech
For further information related safety audits of certification, please feel free to reach Anitech via the details below:
- 1300 802 163
- 0403 640 520