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A step closer to ISO 45001

22 January 2018

Publication of ISO 45001 is imminent but is your business ready? Terry Fisher from NQA provides an overview of the standard and its requirements

Health & safety professionals and organisations all over the world have been eagerly awaiting the publication of the final draft of the ISO 45001 standard. After a long wait we are another step closer to the publication of ISO 45001 with the final draft of the standard (FDIS) being released in November 2017. Publication of the full standard is imminent and expected in March 2018.

An Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) is primarily focusing on preventing injury and ill-health of workers. As this is a new ISO standard, the structure and content has been completely revised, with new and enhanced requirements throughout. 

The new structure is arranged into 10 sections (Annex SL): 

  • 1. Scope (of the standard)
  • 2. Normative References (of the standard)
  • 3. Terms and Definitions (of the standard)
  • 4. Context of the Organisation  
  • 5. Leadership  
  • 6. Planning  
  • 7. Support
  • 8. Operation  
  • 9. Performance Evaluation  
  • 10. Improvement

The requirements of the standard are defined in sections 4-10 inclusively and are capable of being aligned to other recently revised ISO management systems, such as ISO 9001 or ISO 14001.

4 – Context of the Organisation

Understanding the organisation and what it needs and wishes to achieve in relation to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS). Who are the interested parties in addition to workers (who are at the core of the system) and what do they require? 

Use of risk management to identify risks and opportunities - these may be from within the organisation or from outside.

5 – Leadership  (not simply Management)

Requirements include; engagement with workers for all elements of the management system and top management being accountable for the performance and activities in relation to OHS. 

Providing resources and support to achieve desired outcomes and integrating requirements in to the organisation's business process.

6 – Planning

This section is extensive and includes hazard, risk and opportunity identification, action planning, statutory/other requirements and objectives.

7 – Support

Requires determining resources, competence of workers (not just employees), communications and awareness – both internal and external. The phrase ‘documented information’ is also introduced to cover data, information and records required by the system.

8 – Operation

This is the operational planning and control of the activities and processes, with risk and hazard elimination and reduction at its heart. Procurement has its own requirements, as does Emergency Preparedness.

9 – Performance Evaluation

As with all standards this element looks at what is monitored and measured, the compliance evaluation to determine if it has met the required/desired outcomes and the standard internal audit requirements with management review.

10 – Improvement

Although this is the final section of the standard, it is by no means, the lowest of the requirements as it contains; incidents, nonconformity and corrective action and delivery of continual improvement.

Remember - as with all management systems, it is not about just complying with the individual clauses but how these requirements relate to each other, and work together to provide an effective system.

The new ISO standard builds on previous OHSMS standard (OHSAS 18001:2007) and promotes the integration of the health and safety system in to the core management of the organization. 

The requirements are designed and required to interrelate to other sections, performance, information and changes and cannot operate effectively in isolation. For registration, all requirements are applicable and exclusions are not permitted (based on the FDIS ISO 45001).

Top tips

Whether you’re considering obtaining ISO 45001 certification from scratch or already have an OHSAS 18001 and are looking migrate, the certification process is similar. Here are a few tips to make your migration or implementation easier:

  • Get a copy of the ISO 45001 standard and study it. You can buy one from www.iso.org.
  • Identify information about legal and other requirements for occupational health and safety programs and how they will evaluate compliance with these requirements to demonstrate effectiveness.
  • Review workplace hazards and develop a risk assessment methodology.
  • Whilst we wait for the standard to be published, book a Gap Analysis with an NQA Assessor to review your current management system and highlight any gaps against ISO 45001. This will prepare you to address any issues as soon as the standard is published.