The Standard For Safety Management Systems
Looking for a way to improve your EHS performance and demonstrate your commitment to safety? Consider certifying your management system to ISO 45001. And even if you’re not interested in certifying, you can still benefit from using ISO 45001 as a resource to improve your EHS programs.
What is ISO 45001?
ISO 45001 is a standard for Occupational Safety & Health (OHS) developed by the International Organization for Standardization and published in 2018. It takes into account features of other guidelines such as the International Labour Organization’s ILO-OSH Guidelines and OHSAS 18001, the standard published by the British Standards Institute that had most recently provided a benchmark for safety management systems. But ISO 45001 goes beyond other standards in its emphasis on employee engagement and a robust, pro-active EHS culture.
Select requirements for safety management systems under ISO 45001 are listed below.
The Context of the Organization
A persistent historical problem has been that safety management systems have stood apart from everything else they did, and was only the corporate EHS function’s responsibility. This in turn contributed to poor safety performance. That’s why ISO 45001 stresses that a company must determine its “context” by looking at the “external and internal issues that….affect its ability to achieve the intended outcome(s)” of its OHS management system. Safety can’t reside in a separate silo any longer – it depends on participation from all levels and functions of the organization.
One thing that logically follows from this more complete view of the role of safety within an organization is that all workers need to be involved. That’s why Section 5.3 of the Standard emphasizes the importance of consulting workers at all levels and functions, including non-managerial workers, temporary workers, and contracted workers under the supervision of the employer. Safety meetings are one way to promote engagement, and to coordinate the activities needed to support your management system.
Hazard Analysis & Risk Analysis
The authors of the standard recognize that the best way to boost safety performance is to eliminate hazards, reduce the associated risks, and adopt a mindset of continual improvement. Success here depends on the ability to easily conduct risk assessments such as job safety analyses (JSAs) and aspects & impacts analysis with employee participation, and to make them accessible to our workforce.
The standard defines an “incident” as “an occurrence arising out of, or in the course of, work that could or does result in injury and ill health.” The notes to the definition clarify this by stating that “an incident where no injury and ill health occurs, but has the potential to do so, may be referred to as a ‘near-miss, ‘near-hit,’ or ‘close call.’” Since all of these count as “incidents,” we should not compartmentalize our approach to investigating them. A single system that allows capture of all incidents from anywhere including mobile devices can help give you the accessibility you need to meet
Management of Change (MOC)
Section 8.1.3 of the standard prompts the organization to “establish a process (es) for the implementation and control of planned temporary and permanent changes that impact OH&S performance.” This process should address not only changes to operations, but also changes to workplace conditions, personnel and the organization itself, to the degree that such changes can impact safety, such as planned staff cuts that would reduce the number of workers available to perform a certain process, that can introduce new risks to control. MOC can be a challenge, especially when using spreadsheets or paper systems, but modern EHS software makes it much easier to apply MOC when it’s needed, and maintain a complete audit trail of workflows and approvals.
Businesses too often treat emergency planning the way many of us treat our holiday decorations. About once a year, we dust them off and put them to use, then stow them away again and go on with our “normal” operations. The developers of ISO 45001 know that companies need more frequent and active engagement with their emergency plans to ensure their effectiveness. It requires periodic tests, training of all affected employees, and communication of relevant information with relevant parties, including the local fire department, who need to have accurate and complete information about chemicals stored at your establishment.
The “Competence” (7.2), “Awareness” (7.3) and “Communication” (7.4) sections of ISO 45001 address training management. Notably, the Standard specifically states that employers must ensure worker competence, including ability to identify hazards, and that employees must be made aware of the OH&S policy and its objectives. They must also understand the hazards associated with their job tasks, and their own roles in the safety management system. And of course, you need to be able to easily assign and track training to manage it effectively.
The New Standard for Safety
Employers interested in modelling their safety management system on ISO 45001 will have an easier time with the right tools in place. Our single-point EHS management software platform is a good fit for your needs.
Using our Operational Risk software, you’ll be able to assess and prioritize hazards and risks across your organization, and make the assessments accessible to your workforce. If you better ways to report and manage incidents, or to plan and manage meetings of your safety management team, employee safety committees or other safety teams, our Safety solution has you covered.
And these are just some of the ways our VelocityEHS Accelerate® Platform can help you maintain the kind of proactive safety management system described by ISO 45001, and make sure you’re actually doing the things your safety policies say you do. Contact us anytime to learn more about how we can help you do EHS & ESG right.
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