The adoption of ISO 45001 was a watershed moment for occupational safety and health (OSH) management systems. This standard provides organizations a structure around which they can work to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities.
What is ISO 45001?
ISO 45001 is a global standard for occupational safety and health management systems that provides practical solutions for worker safety. It helps create a global foundation of worker safety standards and inspections that can be used in global supply chains across all industries.
What Does ISO 45001 Do?
This standard provides a framework from which OSH objectives can be effectively managed. For example, it serves the needs of those who manage, use or benefit from global supply chains. Just as ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 have provided consensus solutions to questions of quality management and environmental protection in the global marketplace, ISO 45001 helps drive solutions for improving worker safety across the globe.
In this time of change for the standards community, you may be asking yourself, “What do I do next?” The steps below outline the measures that you can take to implement ISO 45001.
1. Understand OSH Management Systems and ISO 45001
The first step in implementing ISO 45001, or any standard for that matter, is understanding its purpose and how it can benefit your organization.
“Start by building your knowledge on what a management system is and how you can leverage it to benefit workers as well as the organization to improve safety and health performance and risk management,” says Vic Toy, CSP, CIH, chair of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on ISO 45001.
Then, take time to familiarize yourself with the requirements of ISO 45001. The standard provides 11 success factors for the implementation of an OSH management system that can guide you.
With deeper knowledge of OSH management systems and ISO 45001, you can develop a strong business case for why your organizations should implement the standard. By understanding ISO 45001 requirements, you gain insight into the impact the standard could have on your company’s bottom line and can communicate that to executives.
“OSH professionals need to understand the business impact of the integration of this standard on commercial excellence,” says Kathy Seabrook, CSP, CFIOSH, EurOSHM, vice chair of the U.S. TAG on ISO 45001. “It is a competitive advantage, and organizations that understand how to leverage it will outperform their competitors.”
2. Examine Your Current System
To understand how ISO 45001 will fit into a safety management system, it is important to examine what standards and systems are already in place. For example, some organizations have adopted ISO 9001 (quality) and ISO 14001 (environment), which contain the same core language as ISO 45001. If your organization is already using ISO 9000 and ISO 14001 and is familiar with this management system approach, integration of 45001 becomes much less complex and the transition can be made more seamlessly.
3. Engage Stakeholders
Implementing ISO 45001 could lead to organizational change. And as with any change, individuals and groups will be affected in a variety of ways. Some may be in favor of the change, while others may be opposed. Gather input from the entire organization and understand the different perspectives that people have about safety and health risks.
“Based on an understanding of different perspectives,” says Toy, “you will have a good place to start to conduct a gap analysis based on not just the requirements in the standard but your objectives.”
Beyond gathering information on different perspectives, engaging with stakeholders also helps foster a culture where everyone feels a sense of ownership in the safety management system.
“This is an opportunity to develop leaders within an organization,” explains Seabrook. “From the worker who is building the bridge, or the electrician performing the lockout/tagout, all the way up to the board of directors, ISO 45001 establishes that everyone has a role, a responsibility and ownership of safety through an accountability system.”
It is also crucial at this stage to engage leadership and educate them on why they may want to implement ISO 45001. Explain to executives the operational and financial impacts of implementing such a system so they can make an informed decision.
4. Determine Priorities and Establish Goals
With the information gathered from engaging stakeholders, you can begin to determine priorities for your organization’s OSH management system, as well as the safety and business performance goals the organization hopes to achieve through the implementation of ISO 45001.
Organizations can then align the implementation of the standard with business objectives. Identifying business objectives in terms of occupational safety and health and aligning them to ISO 45001 allows business to identify metrics by which they can measure the success of their OSH management system, and make adjustments and improvements over time.
5. Establish or Improve Your OSH Management System
By following these first four steps, you can develop an OSH management system that is customized to your organization or improve on an existing system. This process will also help you bring together a team that can execute the plan. With ISO 45001 in place, your team can then track performance against the goals and objectives that have been identified to continuously improve both safety and business performance across your entire organization.
Listen to our podcast with Vic Toy, chair of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on ISO 45001, for further insights on how the standard can help put you on a path to continuous safety improvement.
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