Make arrangements and migrate to ISO 45001 in good time

Nic Warburton is acting editor, IOSH Magazine
Acting editor, IOSH Magazine

It has been little more than a year since the international management standard ISO 45001 was launched to great fanfare.

Organisations that adopt its principles are now required to put in place proportionate safety and health management systems that prevent injury and illness among the workforce and throughout their supply chains.

As Richard Jones, IOSH’s head of policy and public affairs, points out in the introduction to our latest ISO 45001 round table, it’s important that employers do what’s right for their organisations and workforces and appreciate that certification to the standard is only the start of a journey of continual improvement. Organisations that decide not to certify to ISO 45001 can still apply its principles and use the standard as a framework for their own OSH system improvement.

In “Early doors” (IOSH Magazine, January 2019, bit.ly/2IkWhuJ), we talked to four early registrants about their experiences.

Some of the common themes discussed were picked up in the round table debate, in which our four industry experts also shared their insights into the process and how to make it a success.

One key piece of advice for new adopters is to read the standard several times. Although significant differences to OHSAS 18001 are few, some elements do have more emphasis and specific requirements – for instance, on context, leadership and worker participation and consultation.

As Martin Cottam, who chairs the ISO technical committee for occupational health and safety management (ISO/TC 283), notes in the round table discussion, ISO 45001 represents a step forward from previous standards and clearly requires that workers should be involved in the entire plan-do-check-act cycle. 

Kate Field, global product champion from the British Standards Institution (BSI), outlines a few benefits from its clients who consulted workers as part of the participation process. These included technological innovations enabling workers to report problems anonymously but also highlight good practice.

IOSH Magazine would be interested to hear from readers who would like to share examples of good worker participation in their adoption of ISO 45001 principles.

For some organisations, one of the most challenging areas in the implementation of ISO 45001 appears to be in raising standards across the entire supply chain. For example, some companies can be uncertain about the level of control they should impose on their network. Again, we’d be interested to hear your experiences.

If readers aren’t aware, OHSAS 18001 will be withdrawn in March 2021, so it’s worth emphasising the importance of making arrangements and migrating to ISO 45001 in good time if organisations want to maintain certification of their health and safety management systems. Since certification bodies will have to make resources available, it’s critical that this is not left to the last minute. 


 Nick Warburton is acting editor of IOSH Magazine. He is a former editor of SHP and has also worked on Local Authority Waste and Recycling and Environmental Health Practitioner

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