I was asked ‘why?’

My response was immediate. ‘Why not?’

The subject in question was implementing ISO 45001, the internationally recognised Occupational Health & Safety Management System (OHSMS).

Regardless of business size or process, the theory behind adopting is simple:

45001 will improve occupational health and safety, eliminate hazards and minimize OH&S risks, take advantage of OH&S opportunities, and address OHSMS non-conformities associated with its activities.

In summary, when done properly, 45001 makes the workplace a better and safer environment. Period. Alignment with the standard is good. Certification is better.

It comes at a cost, financially, strategically and operationally. Yet it heightens senses, expectation and awareness within an organisation, and in so doing turns an intense spotlight on top management which is never a bad thing.

To be clear, a Standard is a defined way of completing something. Standards drive performance and improvement, regardless of your objective being to make a product, manage a process or deliver a service. Organisations, stakeholders, suppliers and customers all benefit.

45001 is replacing OHSAS 18001, with the latter being withdrawn in March 2021. The former is a more pro-active standard, focusing on risk prevention rather than controlling hazards. Other features include: it looks at the needs and expectations of interested parties*; enhances the role of top management and requires greater staff consultation and participation.

45001 also uses the 10-clause Annex SL high level structure, which enables easier integration with other management systems, such as 9001 (Quality) and 14001 (Environmental).

The benefits of achieving 45001 certification include:

  • Access to new markets;

  • Better management control;

  • Better employee relationships;

  • Better company image;

  • Reduced accidents and emergencies;

  • Reduced costs and liabilities;

  • More competent, therefore efficient and productive staff;

  • Greater awareness of risk;

  • Legal compliance;

  • Continual improvement.

The list as a whole makes for a compelling argument, but any point in isolation would be a valid objective for targeting certification.

Top management, however, will always be driven by the ‘margins’ and any cost savings that can be realised. And this, inevitably, has to be an area of focus for anyone presenting and selling the concept.

Thereafter, the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle (some call it the ‘circle of life’) takes centre stage.

Paying close attention to clauses 4, 5 and 6 of 45001, the ‘Plan’ element, OH&S risks are assessed and determined; OH&S opportunities are identified; OH&S objectives documented, along with processes necessary to deliver results in accordance with the organisation’s OH&S policy.

Clauses 6 and 7 enable you to ‘Do’ the implementation as planned.

‘Check’ is the remit of clause 9, where monitoring and measuring of activities and processes with regard to your OH&S policy and objectives takes place, the results of which form part of the management review.

With clause 10 affording the organisation opportunity to continually improve the suitability and effectiveness of the OH&S management system.

ISO 45001 is a broad church, for businesses of different sizes, different activities, products and services. There is even a whisper that in the fullness of time it, or a close variant, may become a legal requirement.

Implementation, certification, and maintenance thereafter of the management system, does not come without its complications. But in my experience that pain never comes close to the business gain.

Why not, indeed…

*Interested party is defined in ISO 45001 as being a ‘party or organisation that can affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision or activity’.

I am an accredited Lead Implementer in 27001 and an Implementer in 45001. And a Lead Auditor in 27001, 45001 and 14001. If I can be of any assistance, my contact details are available elsewhere on these pages.

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