Home >ISO 45001 and the focus on leadership and worker involvement

ISO 45001 and the focus on leadership and worker involvement

11 April 2019

The development and structure of ISO 45001 and how it differs from OHSAS 18001 was the subject of Phil Bates’ presentation in the BSC Conference Theatre this morning (Thursday).

Phil, who is an independent auditor and was a member of the standard’s policy development committee, started by pointing out that companies who have already fully embraced 18001 shouldn’t have too much difficulty transitioning to 45001, as it is a natural progression from the previous standard.

Launched in March 2018, after almost five years in development, ISO 45001 saw 65 member countries come together in what Phil described as a “collaborative, consensus-based approach”. The key differences between it and 18001 are its explicit clauses relating to leadership, worker involvement, the context of the organisation and integrating health and safety into business processes, like procurement and outsourcing.

Phil explained: “Clause 5 deals with leadership and worker involvement. Leadership is defined as ‘a person or group of persons who directs and controls an organisation at the highest level’. Clause 5.1 comprises 13 parts, which list the key elements of leadership.

“The old style of leadership was transactional – issuing instructions, determining rewards and penalties, monitoring and taking proactive action, and promoting safety compliance. We need to move on from this parent-child relationship to a more transformational style of leadership. This involves influencing, motivation, stimulation and consideration.”

Phil went on to enumerate the key leadership skills as follows:

  • Communicating and listening
  • Selling the business strategy internally
  • Engaging at all levels of the company
  • Building good relationships with key stakeholders
  • Taking time with people
  • Being a collaborative, engaging facilitator.

He then moved on to consultation with workers, which is covered by clause 5.4 of the standard. It emphasises the participation and involvement of workers – particularly non-managerial staff – in decision-making, as well as the importance of removing any barriers to such participation. Said Phil: “If you have been involved in something, you are more likely to take pride in it and see it through.”

Phil went on to discuss the next steps for organisations that are either transitioning from 18001 (they have until 2021 to do so) or those diving straight into 45001. He said: “You need to plan, prepare, engage and assess. Plan by consulting with a certified body. Prepare by actually getting a copy of the standard and of Annex SL and determining what the impact on your organisation will be. Engage with your internal stakeholders, and assess your current systems, levels of leadership and workforce engagement.

“How long it takes depends on the organisation’s commitment and where it is already,” he concluded.