Navigating Your Way to ISO 45001 Compliance

03 September 2019

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Navigating Your Way to ISO 45001 Compliance

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Before you put your destination into your satnav, you need to know where you are.  The same applies when you’re trying to achieve ISO 45001 compliance, 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 destination. The same is true with your organisation when looking at ISO 45001 compliance - you need to plan your route and split it into smaller, achievable steps with the destination in mind.

And, 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.



The key changes with ISO 45001

In my opinion, the clauses with the biggest impact moving from OSHAS 18001 to ISO 45001 are the Continual Improvement, Leadership and Context of the Organisation clauses.

  • Clause 3.37 - Continual Improvement:

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 implementation of changes. Continual improvement is for the long term. No organisation can get better every second of its existence. The best organisations make improvements in steps 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 positively or negatively on its health and safety performance. This includes 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 and 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 Brexit 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 to taking overall responsibility and accountability for the protection of workers with work-related health and safety. This relates to the occupational, health and safety 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 and 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 transitioning is key. Looking at it from a board perspective, 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 and 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 ISO 45001.

The fact is leaders must play their role! This is a great opportunity for internal engagement, educating, coaching them and working as a team.  ISO 45001 is everyone’s standard.

Current location?

Well, likely one of these three:

Is it essential to achieve ISO 45001? No, in my opinion, it will take you to the next level of occupational, health and safety (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 OHS management system with other management system standards (MSS) including ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001. The 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.

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 and 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 ISO 45001 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 occupational, health and safety management systems help organisations to be proactive rather than reactive.

Where do I start?  And how do I get there by March 2021? Access our interactive guide to the 10 clauses and find out how our software can help you reach and maintain ISO 45001 compliance.

Ideagen's Jane Murdoch
Written by

Jane Murdoch

Jane has worked in Safety, Risk and Quality for 16 years supporting and delivering management systems across the globe. She is passionate about software making a difference, helping businesses improve their reporting culture, ensuring the affects form the basis of a continuous improvement programme. Jane is currently Chair for SCoS (Scottish Chamber of Safety), working with HSE and SCoS to support the delivery of the HSE strategy.

Her work with Business Leaders across the globe, implementing a solution that not only helps achieve their ISO Standards, but helps drive change, delivers a management system that provides uniformity across their business, saves time and makes them more efficient.

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