ISO Certification Requirements for Asbestos Removal

With the recent surge in the detection of asbestos in public spaces, including areas as sensitive as children’s playgrounds and schools, this concerning trend has cast a spotlight on the critical importance of asbestos removal, especially Class A asbestos removal, due to its direct implications for public health and safety.

Given the hazardous nature of asbestos and its potential health implications, businesses engaged in asbestos removal must adhere to stringent safety and health management protocols.

This is where ISO 45001:2018 certification becomes pivotal.

Understanding Asbestos: Locations and Dangers

Asbestos is commonly found in older buildings, insulation materials, and floor tiles. The inhalation of asbestos fibres can lead to life-threatening diseases, such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, which may not manifest until decades after exposure.

This is why the detection and removal of asbestos is so heavily regulated across Australia and New Zealand. Each jurisdiction has its own Workplace Health & Safety guidelines on the removal of asbestos, and the requirements governing businesses involved in its removal.

While these differ slightly in terminology and level of detail, they all require businesses to hold both the correct licence, and an ISO 45001:2018 certified Safety Management System.

The Critical Role of Asbestos Registers

An asbestos register is a vital safety management tool that documents all asbestos and Asbestos-Containing Material (ACM) present within a workplace. This register is a requirement under model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations, which have been adopted by all states in Australia, except Victoria. For more information on how to develop, maintain and review an Asbestos Register, see the help guide from Safe Work Australia.

In New Zealand, this is known as an asbestos record. Keeping records of identified asbestos helps workplace PCBUs comply with the requirement to make sure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the workplace does not contain risks to anyone’s health and safety from asbestos – as set out in the Code of Practice for the Management and Removal of Asbestos by WorkSafe New Zealand.

Why is ISO 45001:2018 Certification required for Asbestos Removal?

For businesses in Australia and New Zealand aiming to obtain a Class A asbestos removal license, it is a requirement to have a Safety Management System (SMS) certified to ISO 45001:2018. This international standard specifies requirements for an occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system, enabling an organisation to proactively improve its OH&S performance in preventing injury and ill-health.

Key Requirements of Compliance

Accredited Certification: Your SMS must be certified by a Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JASANZ) accredited conformity assessment body, ensuring that your operations meet the highest standards of safety and health management.

Class A Asbestos Removal Specificity: Your SMS should address the processes, responsibilities, and procedures associated with Class A friable asbestos removal. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Identification and assessment of asbestos-related risks
  • Employee training and competency in handling asbestos
  • Emergency preparedness and response procedures for asbestos incidents
  • Health monitoring and surveillance of workers exposed to asbestos
  • Communication and consultation processes with relevant stakeholders

How to achieve ISO 45001:2018 Certification

While the path to certification is not always the same for every business, below is a common approach to achieving ISO 45001:2018 certification.

1. Initial Review and Gap Analysis

The journey begins with an initial review of your existing Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) management practices, identifying any gaps in your operations and the ISO 45001:2018 requirements.

This phase involves a detailed assessment of your organisation’s procedures, policies, and practices to pinpoint areas needing enhancement or overhaul. Early identification of these gaps allows for the development of a strategic plan, streamlining the path to compliance and certification readiness.

2. Developing and implementing an SMS

Following the gap analysis, the focus shifts to developing and implementing a Safety Management System (SMS) that aligns with ISO 45001:2018 standards. This step involves creating a structured framework to systematically manage and mitigate OHS risks.

The SMS encompasses setting objectives, formulating robust policies, fostering employee engagement, and embedding OHS management into all business processes. The aim is to foster a culture where safety and health are integral to every workplace activity.

3. Certification Audit

After successfully implementing an SMS, the next phase is undergoing a certification audit conducted by a JASANZ accredited body. This critical evaluation verifies that your SMS complies with the ISO 45001:2018 standards.

The audit is a two-stage process: the first stage assesses whether your SMS is ready for a full audit, while the second stage is a detailed examination of its effectiveness in managing and reducing OHS risks. This assessment ensures that your SMS is not just compliant on paper but is actively implemented and making a tangible difference in your workplace.

4. Continuous Improvement

Securing ISO 45001:2018 certification marks the beginning of an ongoing commitment to enhancing your SMS. Continuous improvement is achieved through regular audits and reviews, which help pinpoint further improvement opportunities and ensure that the SMS adapts to any changes in operational practices or regulations.

This phase promotes a proactive approach to OH&S management, demonstrating a lasting dedication to the well-being of your employees.

As the threat of asbestos continues to be a concern in public spaces, ISO 45001:2018 certification remains essential for businesses involved in asbestos removal. Getting certified to this ISO standard is not just about regulatory compliance; it’s a moral imperative to protect public health.

Collaborating with JASANZ-accredited bodies like Southpac Certifications allows businesses to showcase their commitment to maintaining the highest OH&S standards when it comes to managing the dangers of asbestos.

To learn more or to schedule a consultation, reach out to our team.