Adelaide Building Company First to Achieve New OHS Standard - ISO 45001:2018


 ISO 45001

Safety is paramount when it comes to the Construction industry. The foundations of Safety begin with diligence and attention, but more is required to ensure the safety of all stakeholders. Good safety management means setting the bar high and with the introduction of the new International Standard for Safety ISO 45001:2018 earlier this year, the bar has been set even higher.

The new International Standard for Safety was released in 2017 and came into effect 12th March of 2018. It places a greater emphasis on risk-based thinking, greater oversight as well as a holistic approach to ensuring the safety of all stakeholders. An Adelaide construction company became the first SA Construction Company to achieve this certification whilst simultaneously achieving certification for Quality (ISO 9001) as well as Environmental Management (ISO 14001).

 Metcalf Group

Metcalf Group (SA) has a long and successful history of building high quality homes, commercial buildings and retirement villages in South Australia. The Company is also a leader in shop fit-outs and renovations to properties of any scale. As a 30-year-old family owned and operated company, they have always been focused on quality, safety and care for the environment. In January of 2018, the Company’s founder and Managing Director, Gary Metcalf, decided that the Company was ready to take things to the next level. “We have always prided ourselves on going above and beyond, exceeding client’s expectations and achieving certification would be the next step to formalise that.” Metcalf said. 

The Company has become well known in South Australia for a range of projects that include residential builds, retirement homes and refurbishments including such sites as: 

Grange View Estate, a 60 unit retirement village built from ground up at Grange. Metcalf Group (SA) acted as the Project Management contractor on this project and saw the project from breaking ground through to handover
Various high quality Retirement Villages. Metcalf Group (SA) has been selected as the preferred builder for some of the largest retirement entities in SA such as Retire Australia, Life Care, ECH and ACH. Specializing in delivering quality builds in this space, the Company continues to be seen as a leader.
O’Halloran Hill and St Marys Fire station refurbishments. Well known and important to the community, these sites service a wide area providing key fire protection services and Metcalf Group (SA) was entrusted to refurbish and update both sites.
Blakeview Primary School, Salisbury Kindergarten, Kiparrin Special School, Golden Grove High School and Golden Grove Lutheran Primary School refurbishments. Another area of the industry where Metcalf Group (SA) is seen as a leader delivering high quality refurbishment and enhancement services to schools.

Third party certification is an outward demonstration of Quality, care for the Environment and a commitment to Safety. It lets the public, tender panels and other companies know that an organization is serious about these elements in their business. Metcalf Group (SA) partnered with local professional services firm JLB Management Consultancy in Adelaide to work towards implementing a robust and effective integrated management system that would be compliant to the ISO Standards. Far more than just achieving a certificate on the wall, both businesses were serious about achieving a genuine outcome of best practice. 

JLB’s Managing Director Sean Bates and Senior Management Consultant Dan Hadley worked with Metcalf’s team to build further efficiencies and practices alongside a specialised quality management software system that would mean Metcalf Group (SA) could attain its goals. Mr Bates was pleased with the outcome of certification and the Company’s real commitment to the safety of its staff and other stakeholders. “It’s good to see a Company so committed to achieving best practice and caring for their people as well as the environment” Bates said. 

 OHS Management System

ISO 45001 is an ISO standard for management systems covering occupational health and safety (OH&S) that was officially published in March of 2018. The ultimate goal and focus of ISO 45001 is the reduction of occupational injuries, accidents and incidents. Although there are some new requirements, the standard is largely based on the elements of OHSAS 18001 and AS 4801, which ISO 45001 will be replacing completely over the next three-year migration period from 2018 to 2021. ISO 45001 also follows the High Level Structure of other ISO standards such as ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 which makes integration of these standards and systems much easier for firms.
Knowing that the new standard had been announced and was due for release in early 2018, Metcalf Group (SA) and JLB chose to pursue the latest standard and raise its internal practices to the highest level. Although AS 4801 is a highly stringent and practical standard for Safety, ISO 45001:2018 is a contemporary and efficient application of good practices in maintaining safety. Superseding AS 4801, the new Standard will fully replace it by 2021. Thus when the standard was released and finalised, Metcalf Group (SA) was already compliant in principal and eagerly awaiting their audit.  

So why become certified?

There are a number of reasons to become certified to the 3 most common ISO standards of Quality, Safety and Environmental Management.  These include:

Building greater efficiencies into the business that ultimately increase productivity. Quality is not just concerned with the end product or service but how your business gets there. Efficient, quality-based practices can lead to streamlined operations that produce more of what an organisation seeks to provide
Cost savings that come from efficiencies and better practices. By seeking efficiencies in quality, organisations can save money, achieving their outcomes for less
Implementing better risk mitigation strategies through “risk-based thinking”, thereby reducing costly mistakes. By managing risks through an effective management system, organisations may prevent outcomes of costly loss that other, less equipped businesses, may have to suffer as a result of not holding the same high standards
Greater public and client perceptions. Cost is no longer the only factor that customers or potential clients take into consideration when considering where to procure goods and services from in modern markets. This means that consistent output of reliability, environmental sustainability and ethical processes are now important factors when conducting business – many clients and customers are even willing to pay more to achieve this. 
Through consideration of worker participation and ISO 45001, drive a more unified workforce. A workforce that pulls together to produce outcomes that are quality driven will likely be more loyal, productive and committed.
More business through winning contracts, tenders and new opportunities. Businesses that want to differentiate themselves from their competitors can do so through certification. Certification ensures that a business has achieved a benchmark of quality, year on year and will be consistently improving. 
ISO 45001 certification
So can small businesses or even sole traders attain certification to these standards?

The short answer is yes. Depending on what standards a business seeks to be certified to, any business can make the same achievement. There are a number of steps towards meeting the standard(s) which may include:

Developing a practical Management Manual for the business
Conducting a Work Health Safety (WHS) review
Developing proper job descriptions, work instructions and SOPs (Safe Operating Procedures) 
Assessing risks and developing Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS)  
Conducting an Initial Environmental Report
Setting measurable goals for continuous improvement
Having an emergency plan in place
And many more including ongoing maintenance and genuine use of the Management System. 

This can be a lot of work, especially for a small business. Interpreting the standard and trying to reach that level of practice can be difficult but worth the effort. There are industry professionals in the market who assist businesses to achieve this certification such as JLB. A good Management System Consultant will help a business not only achieve certification but help the business achieve continual improvement.

Metcalf Group (SA) after attaining certification…

Metcalf Group (SA) now proudly displays its certification on its walls in Reception alongside its policies, licenses, awards and Club Quality Membership (JLB). It’s an impressive sight for anyone walking in and the staff can be proud to show them off. The Company continues to maintain these standards as audits will continue every year through their chosen certification body TQCSI. Maintaining these standards means a commitment to continuous improvement and best practice.

But certification isn’t the end of the story. Within 3 weeks of certification, Metcalf Group (SA) has won several tenders with consistent feedback that the certification attached to their tender proposals was impressive. Other organisations can now see (through third party independent evaluation) that Metcalf Group (SA) is on the same level of Quality as the tier 1 firms in the industry. “Attaching our certificates to our tenders, showing our certifications on the footers of our emails and displaying our policies and commitments at our office has given our clients even greater confidence that Metcalf is the best choice” Metcalf said. 

About the author: Dan Hadley (MBA, BCOMM, IMC) is a Senior Management Consultant and Economist for JLB  based in Adelaide, South Australia. His services include specialties in Quality systems, risk, strategic advisory services and economic consultation.

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