Introduction to ISO 45001

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Lee Horlock

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Lee is a senior technical officer focused on management systems certification, ensuring that our certification services are fit for purpose.

In the first of our ISO 45001 blog series, Head of Technical & Approvals - Management Systems, Lee Horlock, gives an overview of the standard and how certification works.

Created by ISO (the International Organization for  Standardization), ISO 45001 is a health and safety framework prepared by experts from across the world who sit on ISO technical committees.

Regarded as the highest grade of certification that can be achieved in OH&S, organizations who have achieved ISO 45001 show that they have an ongoing commitment to the wellbeing of  their workers. It also demonstrates that the business has looked at all its functions, with the intent of making the workplace and processes as safe as possible.

In turn, the benefits for organizations are numerous. From proving legal compliance and increasing the organization’s reputation as a responsible employer to raising productivity,  there are many tangible and intangible returns to be reaped from ISO 45001 certification.


Stage one – planning

The first step of establishing an ISO 45001-accredited OH&S management system starts with proper planning. This begins by understanding the health and safety risks and opportunities that the business’ workers (and any other interested parties) face as  a result of operations. The organization's business activities will also have a direct impact; consequently, every system is unique – there is no one size fits all approach.

The success of any OH&S management system, and subsequently gaining ISO 45001 certification, requires an ongoing commitment from the business to continuously address health and safety  performance. An effective and efficient system will take early action to identify and remedy threats to health and safety and workers’ wellbeing, following closely with the well-established  hierarchy of controls methodology.

All effective OH&S systems need to have clearly defined intended outcomes, and everybody within the organization must appreciate what they are. Maintaining a successful management  system depends on several key factors, including leadership and accountability from top management; clear communication, consultation and participation with the workforce; allocation of  resources and forming OH&S policies; and creating processes to spot hazards and controlling the dangers. There also needs to be a level of knowledge of the organization’s structure, while staff  should be competent in ensuring systems are maintained, and opportunities for improvement are put forward INSERT IMAGE 

Stage two – implementation

Once the groundwork has been laid out for the OH&S management system, it can then be implemented. At this point, controls and processes are created and mandated. As mentioned  above, robust OH&S systems work alongside other functions and should integrate into day-to-day operations. They should also  constantly be reviewed and considered as a ‘living’ system that adapts in line with the organization.

For an OH&S system to work effectively, as well as to achieve and maintain ISO 45001 certification, its performance must be regularly audited and monitored by a third party. These impartial  audits are not a measure to establish faults but more to identify  areas for improvement and help organizations understand where deficiencies in the system may be.

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