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How can startups benefit from ISO 45001 implementation?

During the early life of any business there are many considerations to be made, and it is not unusual for finances to play a major part in deciding what projects take precedence over others. As such, ISO 45001:2018 may not always be top priority for a startup, as the perception may be that other projects are more important, but is that the case? Is there any element of OHSAS 18001 that can help a new business, or any habits that the standard encourages that can help a startup to prosper?

ISO 45001 – Can my startup afford it?

The question of cost or financial investment is one that surfaces in almost any implementation and certification project, and it is one that we investigated in the article How much does the ISO 45001 implementation cost? While the cost is not always easy to define and depends on the level of external help your startup may need, there may well still be compelling reasons to consider ISO 45001:

  • What sector does your business operate in? If, for example, your startup is in construction, transport, or any other sector where OH&S (operational health and safety) is critical, then ISO 45001 may well be a top priority for your startup, or indeed mandatory for your company to operate in its chosen sector. Consider the potential financial penalty of having an employee accident – leaving aside the effect on the employee – and it may well be the case that your startup can’t afford not to have ISO 45001.
  • Reputational reasons: It is generally accepted that having certifications such as ISO 45001 should enhance an organization’s reputation, which in turn brings greater business opportunities. At this time in the lifecycle of a startup, both factors can be critical – many startups find that they only have one opportunity to establish a positive reputation, and increased business in the early days of a startup can be vital to achieving financial objectives. Although certification brings extra costs as opposed to merely implementing the principles of the standard, it is often the case that certification can open doors in terms of new business and entry to new markets, and is therefore usually justifiable to your top management.
  • Morale reasons: How would your employees feel if you ignored OH&S for the sake of a financial commitment to a project that they may deem less important? Every business is built on its employees, and it is wise to do everything possible to ensure their continued safety and well-being. Implementing ISO 45001 gives the message to employees, customers, and stakeholders that your startup is serious about protecting these assets.
  • Legal requirements: There will be financial penalties in many markets for failing to meet legislation – can your startup afford to be penalized early in the life of the company before financial stability is attained?

So, now that we understand these reasons for a startup to implement ISO 45001, is there anything in the standard itself that may help a new business to survive and expand?

Using the ISO 45001 standard to your startup’s benefit

Normally, when a business is in its infancy you will have a combination of employees with various amounts of experience, and very possibly, no common methods of working. As such, there are certain clauses and elements of the standard itself that can help a new business. Let us examine them in more detail:

  • The Plan/Do/Check/Act model: This cycle is transferrable to almost every area of business and can form the basis of good project delivery, as well as being at the center of the ISO 45001 standard.
  • Identification of risk: The early days of a startup are a time of exceptional risk. Conditioning your employees to constantly consider and evaluate risk – in business terms as well as in terms of work-based activities that may prove risky – can provide benefit to your business in the long run. It is also prudent to ensure that your workforce recognizes that opportunity generally appears wherever there is risk, as we examined in the article What are the new requirements for risks and opportunities according to ISO 45001?
  • Setting objectives and plans: While central to ISO 45001, this practice is also fundamental to establishing and maintaining performance against targets in any business. Establishing a culture of developing programs to achieve set objectives can build a structured and shared culture of achievement within your startup. Learn more on implementing this clause in the article How to meet participation and consultation requirements in ISO 45001
  • Participation and consultation: Here is another vital clause in ISO 45001 that transcends the realm of OH&S. If you can ensure that your startup employees are consulted and invited to participate in vital decisions and policy making, you can build a team at the most formative and critical time in a business’s lifecycle – the start. Learn more on implementing this clause in the article How to meet participation and consultation requirements in ISO 45001

Ensuring maximum benefit from ISO 45001 for a startup

As we can see, there are many compelling reasons to consider implementing ISO 45001 for a startup, no matter what sector your new business operates in. As well as the obvious elements of accident prevention and risk identification, there are many practices central to ISO 45001 that can be adapted successfully into the everyday habits of any startup with great success. Add the reputational gains and the benefits that new business contracts can bring to your startup, and maybe it’s time to ask yourself – “Can my startup afford not to implement ISO 45001?”

To learn more about the benefits of ISO 45001 implementation for startups, download this free white paper: How can ISO 45001 help your business grow?

Advisera John Nolan
John Nolan
John Nolan is a Fellow of the Institute of Leaders and Managers in the United Kingdom, and Prince 2 accredited with a background in Engineering and Electronics and Data Storage and Transfer. Having studied and qualified as both a Mechanical and Electronic Engineer, he has spent the last 15 years designing and delivering Quality Systems and projects across many sectors in the UK, including both national and local government.