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Each day, thousands of workers around the world die each day from occupational injuries. ISO 45001 is the first international occupational health and safety (OHS) standard that works to prevent these deaths with clear guidelines to help organizations improve conditions in the workplace. Here, Zoë Frances, Product Marketing Director at VelocityEHS, takes a closer look at ISO 45001 and how it affects you and your company.

What Is ISO 45001?
Published in March by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), ISO 45001 replaces OHSAS 18001 to provide organizations with a single, clear framework to improve OHS performance and guidance for addressing persistent problems with safety management performance.

How Is It Different?
When compared to OHSAS 18001, the most significant change is how ISO 45001 conceptualizes and expands the domain of OHS. This includes:

  • Risks and Opportunity Management: While OHSAS 18001 was focused on controlling “hazards,” ISO 45001 takes a more dynamic approach, with Section directing organizations to assess “opportunities to adapt work, work organization and work environment to workers…opportunities to eliminate hazards and reduce OH&S risks…and other opportunities for improvement.” This means that organizations certified to 45001 will clearly need to be more proactive in their approach to risk.
  • OHS integration: ISO 45001 requires OHS to be more of an integral part of organizational identity. Designed to integrate easily with other management systems, like ISO 14001, OHS is no longer separate from everything else an organization does. For instance, Section 5.1 requires top management to take “overall responsibility and accountability” for OH&S activities. Similarly, the standard’s Introduction identifies integration of the OHS management system with organizational business factors as a “success factor.” In short, OHS – as framed by ISO 45001 – is not something that just corporate EHS does, but something the company needs to do as a whole.
  • Worker Engagement: One of the most important changes to ISO 45001 is that it requires organizations to consult and participate with workers or their representatives. In the past, management systems have often been the domain of a select few, with program documents existing on only a few computers within corporate EHS. Section 5.4 in ISO 45001 attempts to fix that by specifically requiring the consultation of non-managerial workers in various aspects of OHS to ensure that all employees are included. Organizations must also identify and remove barriers to participate. Any organization seeking certification to ISO 45001 will need to have a healthy and engaged EHS culture.
  • Internal and External Issues: Section 4 of ISO 45001 directs organizations to consider the business environments in which they operate (called by ISO the “Context of the Organization”). For example, there is a requirement to determine the internal and external issues that affect your approach to OH&S. Another example is Section 4.2 which states that the organization must determine “the other interested parties, in addition to workers” relevant to the OH&S system. While the standard leaves it to the organization to determine the scope of the OH&S management system, prompting considerations of broader contexts is a shift in perspective from OHSAS 18001.

Another obvious change is how ISO 45001 is organized. Because the standard is based on the ISO Guide 83 (“Annex SL”), it now follows a common structure and terminology for management systems, which includes:

  1. Scope
  2. Normative References
  3. Terms and Definitions
  4. Context of the Organization
  5. Leadership
  6. Planning
  7. Support
  8. Operation
  9. Performance Evaluation
  10. Improvement

How Does This Affect Me?
Organizations that are currently certified to OHSAS 18001 need to know that the standard is being withdrawn, since ISO now considers ISO 45001 to be the benchmark standard for OHS. While you should already have a solid foundation to build on, ISO recommends companies take the following steps to begin the transition to ISO 45001:

  • Step One – Analyze your organization’s context related to OH&S and the internal and external factors that influence your business.
  • Step Two – Determine the scope of your management system, and what you want it to achieve.
  • Step Three – Establish your OH&S policy and objectives.
  • Step Four – Identify the implementation time frame for your system and how you plan to achieve it.
  • Step Five – Fill in competence and/or any resource gaps that could prohibit implementation.

In addition to these steps, we also recommend:

  • Build the framework, and determine which KPIs you will be tracking to monitor your OHS performance.
  • Encourage employee participation. An OH&S system built without employee involvement and feedback will not only damage your EHS culture, but it simply won’t work very well.

How VelocityEHS Can Help
The ease of migration from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001 will largely depend upon the complexity of your organization, and the maturity of your management system. Our Audit & Inspection software can help you create and deploy checklists for conducting internal audits across multiple locations so you can quickly and more accurately evaluate compliance with your OHS management system and its policies and procedures, as well as applicable regulatory standards. It also makes it easier to instantly generate and assign corrective actions for individual checklist items when nonconformances are identified, and to be able to verify completion of actions during audit follow-ups.

To maintain an effective management system, you’ll need to effectively train your employees on your policies and procedures. The VelocityEHS Training Management and On-Demand Training tools help standardize safety training across the organization, with improved visibility of training performance and better employee engagement. Create organization-wide workflows that align with company policies and standard requirements, deploy flexible and interactive training modules, and hold workers accountable for meeting training deadlines all from a single source platform.

Our Compliance Management solution helps you simplify scheduling and tracking of all tasks needed to obtain and then sustain a certified management system. Assign tasks to the right employees, track critical dates including certification and recertification dates, and establish recurring or non-recurring actions. You’ll also have the visibility of non-conformities you need to keep your system running smoothly.

With the right tools in place, you’ll be ready for the transition to ISO 45001 and better able to maintain a world-class EHS culture that protects your employees and your business.

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