According to a recent INAIL report entitled ‘The Effectiveness of Accredited Certifications for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems’, which takes into account data for the period 2017-2021 from the Accredia database, companies that adopt certified systems to manage the safety and health of workers tend to be safer and record a decrease in accident frequency and severity ratios compared to those that do not use such systems. The reductions in accident frequency and severity ratio, which in certified companies is lower by an average of 29.2%, are significant in high-risk sectors such as chemicals and building construction where the percentage is 40.9%. Certifying according to ISO 45001 standards by opting for an accredited certification, as opposed to a non-accredited one, offers a series of tangible advantages, as Manolo Valori, Technical Director of CVI Italia, the Italian branch of the Slovakian group CVI SRO, one of the most important companies in the voluntary certification sector with international accreditation, explains in this long interview.
by Roberta Imbimbo

Dr Valori, what is the effectiveness of an accredited certification?
A small premise is necessary. ISO certifications differ from one another on the basis of a number of aspects. A first distinction can be based on the nature of the certifying body, i.e. between an accredited or non-accredited body according to ISO standards. Accredited certifications – which strictly bear the mark of both the national accreditation body and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), i.e. the World Association of Accreditation Bodies chaired by the Italian Emanuele Riva – are those processes in which a third party verifies that the system being certified conforms to the standards laid down in the reference legislation. Opting for an accredited certification therefore offers a number of tangible advantages: for example, it guarantees that the assessment process is conducted by an independent, recognised and accredited body that verifies the fulfilment of requirements according to pre-established procedures, lending greater credibility to the certificate itself, since it is issued by a competent body that has followed strict assessment standards. Another key advantage is easier access to international markets. Accredited certification has international validity thanks to a system of multilaterality or mutual recognition that ensures uniformity of modus operandi among accreditation bodies around the world (each country has its own national accreditation body; in Italy, Accredia is the only body authorised to issue authorisations to CABs, and its certifications are recognised internationally precisely because of the Mutual Recognition Agreements mentioned earlier). Consequently, choosing an accredited certification according to the ISO 45001 standards (transposed in 2023 at European level) not only demonstrates a company’s commitment to the health and safety of its employees (and compliance with the regulations contained in Legislative Decree 81/08), but also translates into an economic investment in terms of credibility, prestige, access to international markets, and the containment of social costs (the reduction of accident events related to workers working in certified companies has led to a reduction in costs of around 2 billion euros). Last but not least, accredited certification is recognised as a rewarding requisite for participation in public and private calls for tenders, in addition to the rewards and funding granted to companies that invest in improving company structures in the direction of safer work.

Among the accredited certifications, UNI ISO 45001 is of primary importance because it represents a valid tool to effectively fight the sad phenomenon of accidents at work, which today represents a real social drama. What can you tell us about this?
According to the International Labour Organisation there are more than 2.78 million deaths and 374 million non-fatal injuries and illnesses each year as a result of occupational accidents and diseases. The impact of injuries and illnesses on families and the community is enormous, as is the cost to businesses and the economic system. At the Italian level, INAIL recognises about 585,356 accidents as having occurred in the workplace (2023 data), of which more than a thousand with fatal consequences. In this dramatic context, the UNI ISO 45001 “Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements and guidance for use” represents a valid tool to implement all the best practices useful to prevent adverse situations and to proactively put in place all the corrective actions to eliminate the cause of a given accident, improving the safety and health performance of any organisation, regardless of its size, sector and nature of its activities.

More specifically, what advantages does this certification offer?
UNI ISO 45001, with its focus on leadership, worker involvement, and risk assessment, pushes organisations to proactively adopt a corporate culture that looks at occupational health and safety not just as a regulatory compliance, but as an essential part of work processes and an opportunity for overall improvement and growth in company performance. Thanks to this very important standard, there is now a significant reduction in accidents and occupational injuries compared to the average: a recent INAIL report clearly shows that certified companies have a 16 per cent lower frequency rate than non-certified companies and a 40.9 per cent lower accident severity index (and consequently a decrease in absenteeism and turnover and therefore higher productivity), an improvement in the efficiency of business processes, a conspicuous reduction in costs related to INAIL insurance premiums and the acquisition of additional scores in public tenders, but above all the ability to meet the organisation’s legal and regulatory obligations (legislative decree no. 81/2008) avoiding the administrative sanctions provided for by Legislative Decree 231/2001 in the event of violations of workplace safety regulations. UNI ISO 45001 is therefore not only a valid tool for the social protection of workers, but also and above all a distinctive element that will enable companies to gain a competitive advantage in the global market and improve their brand reputation by creating safer working environments. For companies that choose to become certified, it is therefore preferable to opt for an accredited certification as this offers a number of fundamental direct and indirect guarantees.

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