Keeping workers safe is one of your most important concerns as an employer. This need has been recognized by the International Organization for Standardization, and is codified in new ISO guidelines and certification: ISO 45001.
If your organization wants to transition to ISO 45001 and be recognized for best-in-class occupational safety, it’s important to understand the ISO regulatory demands.
ISO 45001 is vital to your overall environmental, health, safety, and quality (EHSQ) management efforts.
We’ll break down what’s contained in ISO 45001, and why it's important to your organization's success and employee wellbeing.
The Intent of ISO 45001:2018
The main principles driving this new standard are:
- Creation of a framework for quality in occupational health and safety,
- Importance of an Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) system,
- Regulations for creating, implementing, and managing an OH&S system,
- Identification of OHS risks, issues, and opportunities,
- Management and mitigating actions to reduce and remove OH&S risks and issues,
- Continual improvement through taking advantage of OH&S opportunities, and
- Protection of the physical and mental health of the workforce, whether employee, contractor, freelancer, or other staff member.
ISO 45001:2018 is “organization agnostic” – it’s designed so that any size of business in any industry can use it. Although implementation and management will vary, the outcome of less risk in the workforce will improve employee morale, reduce illness- and injury-related costs, and result in a safer workplace. Let’s break down the key requirements.
Requirements and Outcomes
The first clause focuses on the needs, requirements, and outcomes expected of an OH&S system. It is concerned with:
- Providing a framework for OH&S systems,
- Preventing work-related injury and ill health,
- Establishing risk-based thinking for OHS,
- Introducing policies and processes that support OH&S, and
- Providing safe, healthy working environments.
This part of the regulations is concerned with the scope, limitations, and integrations of the OH&S management system. Key factors include:
- Aligning the standard to organizational strategy and vice versa,
- Integrating OH&S policies, principles, and processes into every part of the business,
- Identifying and taking account of factors that will impact successful outcomes of OH&S,
- Determining the needs of various parties, including workers, contractors, managers, executives, external stakeholders, regulatory bodies, shareholders, legal authorities, and more, and
- Documenting the intended scope and outcomes from the OH&S management system.
Executive, Manager and Employee Participation
This part specifies the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved with OH&S within the organization. Typical activities include:
- Discussion and collaboration with all employees,
- Creation and management of health and safety policies,
- Appropriate feedback, training, and risk-based processes for employee safety, and
- Removal of issues such as communication difficulties or concern about reprisals.
Planning, Risk Management and Opportunities
ISO 45001:2018 introduces a new focus on risks and opportunities, including:
- Identifying, cataloging, and managing risk through urgency, impact, likelihood, and priority,
- Creation of mitigating action plans for known risks,
- Identifying and capturing opportunities to improve OH&S, and
- Implementing continual improvement plans to deliver on opportunities and recommendations.
Support for Management and Implementation
This area requires that organizations properly support OH&S quality management and implementation. This includes understanding and providing the necessary resources for OH&S implementation and management. It includes resources of all types – OH&S administration, software and support, policies, budgets, and anything else required for quality assurance.
This area covers how OH&S quality is actively managed in your workplace. Areas to consider include:
- Implementing proper structure and accountability across OH&S systems, people, and other areas,
- Introducing strong procurement and change controls to reduce the possibility of introducing new risks, errors, or issues,
- Identifying how opportunities can benefit OH&S management and implementation, and
- Carrying out complete supply chain management and procurement from a risk-based approach.
As you can see, ISO 45001:2018 has implications across your quality management and OH&S frameworks, tools, and approaches. For the organizations that get it right, this standard can be a real differentiator, and will result in reduced danger to employees and a better place to work.
Tim Lozier is director of product strategy at EtQ.