ISO 45001: Requirements and structure explained

ISO 45001 is the international standard for occupational health and safety. Its purpose is to reduce injuries and diseases in the workplace, including the promotion and protection of physical and mental health.

This is an issue that’s more important than ever, with 1.9 million deaths and 360 million injuries each year from workplace incidents.

In this blog, we look at each clause of ISO 45001 to understand how it works and what you must do to achieve compliance.

Clauses 1–3: Terminology and scope

The first three clauses of ISO 45001 contain introductory information about the Standard. Clauses 1 and 2 in particular are intended simply as summaries, outlining its scope and noting that there are no normative references.

Meanwhile, clause 3 contains a list of terms and definitions that will be useful to anyone previously unfamiliar with the Standard.

Clause 4: Context of the organization

In this clause, organisations must review the context of their activities and document the needs of interested parties. This can be divided into internal and external issues.

Internal issues include the competence and commitment of your workforce, their willingness to co-operate and follow your policies, and your organisation’s communication methodologies.

By contrast, external issues include relevant legislations and laws, your organisation’s economic and political conditions, and union expectations (where applicable).

You also need to consider the expectation of stakeholders and shareholders, whether their influence is internal or external.

Clause 5: Leadership and worker participation

This clause embeds health and safety within the organisation’s activities, and is designed for both management and employees.

Unlike previous frameworks on this topic, ISO 45001 moves away from the suggestion that individuals are responsible for certain tasks and instead encourages a joint effort across the team.

This ensures that multiple members of the team are capable of running the system and creates a culture of effective health and safety.

Clause 6: Planning for the OH&S system

In this clause, you are looking at the objectives for your OH&S system and how you can achieve them. Your primary aim is obviously to remove or reduce the risk of accidents and other health issues in the workplace, but it’s worth breaking this down into practical steps.

For example, you should first consider your legal obligations, your stakeholders’ needs and expectations, and your operational requirements.

Next, you should assess organisational risks. This should begin with a risk assessment but can also encompass related facts, including the frequency of workplace accidents, the average number of days employees are absent each year and the results of employee OH&S surveys.

With this information, you can put in place plans to mitigate the risk of health and safety issues. ISO 45001 recommends that organisations keep their plans as simple as possible, breaking them down into the following steps:

  • What will be done
  • What resources are needed
  • Who is responsible for implementing each step
  • When the plan will be completed
  • How it will be evaluated
  • How the actions will be integrated into the organisation

Clause 7: Support

This clause covers support elements of your OH&S system, which includes communication, staff awareness, documentation and resources.

Senior management plays a crucial role in ensuring the organisation complies with this clause, as they must approve the necessary resources and put in place other appropriate measures.

Staff training in particular requires top-level approval, and it should be embedded within the organisation’s practices. This might mean training courses at regular intervals as well as practice drills to ensure that employees follow your guidelines.

Clause 8: Operation

Any OH&S system must have effective operational controls. Clause 8 covers the steps organisations must complete, including the elimination of hazards, change management, procurement, and emergency preparedness and response.

Organisations can implement their operational processes by creating operating criteria, which can be used to control relevant processes. These should be maintained and evaluated at regular intervals to ensure that they work as intended.

Clause 9: Performance evaluation

A crucial aspect of any OH&S system is the monitoring and evaluation of its performance. This includes an assessment of the organisation’s compliance status as well as the overall effectiveness of the system.

Clause 10: Improvement

The final clause of ISO 45001 states that organisations must commit to continual improvement, which they can do based on the results of their performance evaluation.

If the assessment reveals inadequacies in performance rather than compliance, it might be worth consulting with your employees and team heads on potential changes. They are the ones using the system and you can use their knowledge to look for corrective and preventative actions.

ISO 45001 compliance with IT Governance

Get help with your OH&S system with our ISO 45001 Toolkit. Designed and developed by industry experts, this toolkit contains everything you need to certify to the Standard.

Reduce your implementation costs with instant access to the Cloud-based DocumentKits platform.

It contains customisable templates for the documentation process, and access our guidance notes to ensure you understand your requirements.

One Response

  1. Ralph Kachur 14th November 2021