03 September 2019

Navigating Your Way Through ISO 45001

By Jane Murdoch

Before you put your destination into your sat nav, you need to know where you are.

The same applies to ISO45001, the new international standard, which in my opinion, has come at a great time!

When you give your satnav a destination it takes you from A to B. However, it’s not one constant path, it is broken down into a series of smaller steps to reach your final destination.

The same is true with your organisation when looking at ISO 45001 - you need to plan your route and split it into smaller, achievable steps with the destination in mind.

Just like a SatNav, you need to monitor, measure and evaluate to ensure you are making progress in the right direction and that you can prove this is being done.


So what is changing? In my opinion the clauses with the biggest impact moving from OSHAS 18001 are: Continual Improvement, Leadership and Context of the Organisation.


Clause 3.37 - Continual Improvement:

Recurring activity to enhance performance.

Continuous means without interruption, a constant, persistent and relentless stream. Whereas, continual is when the same action or event is repeated frequently, sustained and ongoing.


It’s not feasible for a business to be continuously improving, there must be room for evaluation, reflection and implementing changes. Continual improvement is for the long term. No organisation can get better every second of its existence. The best organisations make improvements in step and allow time to learn from failure or use success to spur the team on.



Clause 4 – Context of the Organisation:

The organisation must understand the internal and external issues that can impact in a positive or negative manner on its health and safety performance including organisational culture and structure, and the external environment including cultural, social, political, legal, financial, technological, economic, market competition and natural factors of significance to its performance.


Internal factors are elements that you have full control over such as policies & objectives and supply chain to name a few. However, looking at external factors that are out with the organisation’s control, a common model used to outline and identify these factors is PESTEL (Political Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal).
The factors identified through the PESTEL model can then be analysed through a SWOT analysis to ensure that all strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are fully explored.

It is important for an organisation to fully understand the forces that can, and will inevitability have an impact on the organisation. This could be anything from the weather interfering with a delivery or causing a potential incident onsite to a potential political factor such as the impact Bexit may have on their trade.

By identifying these risks, threats and weaknesses, you can take a proactive approach to mitigating risk.

Clause 5.1 - Leadership: 

This clause provides guidance on how the organisation demonstrates leadership and commitment in taking overall responsibility and accountability for the protection of workers work-related health and safety. This is in relation to the OH&S management system, and how it ensures adequate worker participation in its development, implementation and improvement.

Health and Safety Professionals are LEADERS; you need to LEAD your Senior Management & Leaders through this clause and beyond.
Getting buy in from the board can sometimes be difficult but getting the message across showing the clear benefits of going to/transitioning is key. Looking at it from a Board, I would far rather have full visibility, and this is a clear opportunity to make this happen.

This is a major change that stops leaders delegating responsibility. They must lead by example.

Health & safety professionals used to be kept awake at night with overwhelming feelings of responsibility under OSHAS 18001. This should no longer be the case under ISO45001.

The fact is Leaders must play their role! This is a great opportunity for internal engagement, educating, coaching them and working as a team.  ISO45001 is everyone’s standard.



Well likely 1 of these 3:-

Is it essential to achieve ISO 45001? No, in my opinion it will take you to the next level of OHS as an employer, a business, a supplier and a competitor.

ISO 45001:2018’s introduction of Annex SL should make it easier for organisations to integrate their OH&SMS with other MSS, including ISO 9001-2015 and ISO14001. Annex SL framework was developed in 2013 and sets out the same high-level structure (HLS), text and terms and definitions for all new and revised ISO management system standards (MSS).

This means that the framework is the same for all ISO standards – the hard work is done!

With a greater emphasis on Worker Participation, the trick is to lead, DRIVE and ‘own’ the process AND at the same time empower everyone to engage with it.

There is also an explicit requirement to link Health & Safety to your business strategy and proving that is the case.


So what can you do?

With a manual system, you can still reach your destination, but it is a lot harder. It will take longer to plan, and no information or visibility is provided on traffic jams, risks and accidents or notice of diversions.

The same applies when aiming for ISO 45001 – using a manual management system will get you there, but it will be a bigger challenge. Using an electronic management system will help ease the pressure and allow you to achieve your goals successfully and efferently.

Electronic systems help organisations to be proactive rather than reactive.

Where do I start?  And how do I get there by March 2021? – click here to access our interactive guide to the 10 Clauses of ISO 45001 and a breakdown of how Ideagen’s Solutions help.

From this page, you can register interest to a webinar focusing on ‘Parachuting ISO 45001 into a Management System’. During this, our Product Manager and myself will take you through the clauses and how you can manage them through an electronic management system.

You can also download your ISO 45001 Toolbox & gain access to our ISO 45001 Whitepaper, a Quick Reference Guide to the standard and a fantastic webinar with myself and Dr Karen McDonnell from RoSPA talking about ISO 45001 particularly around the human capital being key.

Alternatively, get in touch with myself to arrange a consultation or demo of our solutions to ISO 45001 at Jane.Murdoch@ideagen.com.

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