Work involves more than expertise and performance. Employees as well as employers must perform their duties in a work environment that is clean, healthy and safe. In terms of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has established the ISO 45001 standard.
What is it? What is its interest for organizations? And why is it a good idea to call on us to support your OHS certification?
Why ISO 45001?
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), which states that just over 7,600 people die every day from occupational diseases or accidents in the course of their work (source: Safe Youth@Work action plan, April 28, 2018), experts on a specialized ISO committee have been mandated to find solutions. Thus, with the intervention of the ILO, they were able to adopt some 40 conventions and practical recommendations for an optimization of OHS. Among these practical guidelines, there is the ISO 45001 standard which requires the application of specific rules and working conditions. Therefore, it is recommended that companies wishing to increase the efficiency of their activities implement this standard and monitor it regularly, by ISO specialists such as Extrend Consulting.
ISO 45001 is not the first principle established for OHS, but is in any case the first international ISO standard created in this field, and adopted to date by more than 60 countries. Released on March 12, 2018, it is the successor to the ILO-OSH 20012 Occupational Safety and Health Management System Guidelines, and previous international standards such as OHSAS 18001 that were created with this in mind.
The ILO-OSH is a book published by the ILO, last updated in 2001, which contains precepts on how a company should behave so that its workers are less likely to succumb to work-related accidents. As for BS OHSAS (Occupational Health Safety Assessment Series) 18001, it is a standard published by a British organization (the BSI) and is composed of exactly the same requirements as ISO 45001 on occupational health and safety management. This first standard is now obsolete (created in 2007) and has been withdrawn since the end of March 2021 or the end of September 2021 (for organizations whose activities have been disrupted by the COVID 19 pandemic). Before this deadline, companies already certified to BS OHSAS 18001 simply migrated to the more modern and internationally recognized ISO 45001, which now replaces BS OHSAS 18001.
Benefits of ISO 45001
Its first principles are based on the health and well-being of workers in a company. In other words, the standard requires that they have mental and physical safety so that they can be best involved in their work. In detail, what are all the benefits of this standard?
Decrease in turnover and increase in presenteeism
Companies that have implemented the principles of ISO 45001 have seen a decrease in absenteeism, and therefore an increase in the number of employees involved. The rate of turnover also decreases, which at the same time improves the company's productivity because experienced workers stay.
Will to progress
The ISO 45001 approach represents the management's willingness to encourage workers to go beyond the simple quality of the company's activities. This collective awareness makes employees actively participate in their own safety and health at work. By focusing on the development of OHS, there is a continuous improvement that enhances the company not only in the market but also in the eyes of its employees and competitors.
Reduction of occupational accidents and diseases
The cooperation with the management favors an improvement movement that limits the risks of incidents and especially of undesirable events. Thanks to the reduction of the number of accidents, the optimization of an efficient and solid OHS system allows, among other things, a reduction of the costs related to the contribution of occupational accidents and diseases, and a reduction of the costs related to prolonged absences, material repairs and possible legal proceedings. This avoids a considerable loss of production.
Improvement of the company's image
Taking into account the health and safety of the workers inevitably leads to better working conditions, which improves the quality of the activities and contributes to give the company a better image than before. Finally, ISO 45001 is a criterion of quality.
Requirements of ISO 45001
Generally speaking, the expected effects of an OHS management system are: compliance with all requirements in the field in question (health and safety), the continuous development of OHS performance and efficiency, and finally the achievement of all its safety objectives. After five years of work, the ISO 45001 standard has been structured for more than 3 years with 10 chapters.
The one dealing specifically with requirements starts in the fourth chapter of this structure. It requires the organization to identify the different aspects of its elements according to the social, economic, technological, legal and political context, while taking into account the opinions, expectations and needs of workers and interested parties. The following are the principles or requirements of ISO 45001 for its use.
Guidelines of ISO 45001
Point by point, here they are:
- Regardless of status, size and field of activity, ISO 45001 can be applied to any company as long as it has its own OHS management system in place. The standard acts on the company's OHS risks on several factors: societal environment, workers' well-being and needs, workers' and stakeholders' involvement, etc.
- Thanks to ISO 45001, any organization has the possibility, through its OHS management system, to integrate other aspects of safety and health. In addition to the well-being of the workers, we can mention the working conditions that promote a better quality of life.
- However, ISO 45001 does not stipulate precise or specific criteria for OHS performance. Each organization is aware, responsible and qualified in the design of its OHS management system. The standard is essentially there to assess the flaws and risks that affect the system and to provide appropriate solutions.
- All these requirements of ISO 45001 are to be implemented. However, they are only acceptable if each of them is integrated into the OHS management system of a given organization, and if these requirements are respected by the latter. They must all be implemented without exclusion.
The PDCA cycle
The implementation of this standard is based on the same principles as quality management. It is the PDCA cycle: Plan, Do, Assess, Improve. It is applied as follows.
Planning: for a good OHS management system, the first approach consists of an evaluation of the risks, but also of the opportunities related to the safety and health of workers. After having defined all this, we decide on the objectives as well as on the way to reach them, making sure that the results are in line with the OHS policy of the organization.
Implementation: here it is simply a matter of putting into practice, undertaking the actions planned in the first step of the PDCA.
Evaluation: the proper functioning of the activities carried out is monitored, taking into account the final objectives. We ensure that the results are in accordance with the guidelines of ISO 45001.
Improvement: Continuous improvement of the OHS efficiency and performance process is ensured. Even if the results are positive, the aim is to always aim better and further.
ISO 45001 requires a strong leadership presence from the management, so that there is an active involvement of the workers. In order to do so, it must show
Vision: it must provide, develop and promote a health and safety culture that supports the expected results of the OHS management system, for a productive work within the organization.
Responsibility: The management has the duty to allocate the necessary resources to prevent potential injuries as well as pathologies already present in the workplace, so that the workers' environment is healthy and safe.
Protection: it must ensure that any worker who reports and discloses incidents, hazardous situations or adverse events is protected from any kind of retaliation.
Support: Safety and health committees must be functional and established by management.
Cooperation: Management is responsible for implementing a process to ensure that workers are involved and actively participate in promoting their health and safety.
Consultation and participation of workers
According to chapter 5.4 of ISO 45001, consultation and participation of workers within an organization is an integral part of the requirements of the standard. This is one of the main changes compared to OHSAS 18001. By committing to this requirement, the obligations of an organization are as follows:
- Have clear, relevant and understandable OHS management system information and resources that are accessible to workers in a timely manner.
- consult in detail with stakeholders and workers to determine what needs to be eliminated, retained and improved within the work environment
- Assess workers' skills, attributes and gaps to determine their training needs and the ideal types of training to meet them.
This approach allows to further improve the OHS policy of the company concerned by setting health and safety objectives in accordance with ISO 45001. According to chapter 6 of the structure of this standard, it is a set of processes that an organization must put into action in order to face the risks and opportunities of its OHS management system. To achieve this goal, incidents, near misses or hazardous situations with the potential to turn into undesirable events are identified through action planning, which is carried out in the following way
- consideration of the main OHS issues
- identification of the positive, beneficial and negative internal and external aspects that may impact OHS. Strategic analysis tools such as the SWOT or SWOT analysis method can be used.
Chapter 10 gathers a set of actions necessary to improve the OHS of an organization, i.e. corrective actions to deal quickly with non-conformities and any undesirable events with the aim of continuous improvement.
After establishing a functional management system and measuring its operation, this provides useful data for its improvement. With the help of this data, it is necessary to identify the origins of all the elements that are harmful to the OHS of the organization, and to carry out actions to reduce or eliminate these causes with the objective of efficiency. The search for causes is therefore essential to ensure effective correction.
Taking into account the supports (chapter 7), the realization of operational activities (chapter 8) and the evaluation of performance (chapter 9), this last chapter deals with preventive actions carried out through a risk approach in order to emphasize the well-being of workers. The improvement measures undertaken must be documented in order to be informed and communicated to all concerned stakeholders.
Between audit and ISO 45001
The ISO 45001 standard is more diversified and improved than the previous ones on OHS. Among these improvements, we can distinguish: an emphasis on the involvement of the workers caused by a better sense of leadership, and the consideration of the mental well-being of the worker (including the management and all the staff). In order to know if a company's health and safety management system is working properly, it is necessary to evaluate its process through audits. This is what links ISO 45001 to the internal audit. The elements to consider in order to maintain an ISO 45001 certification are the following:
- It is mandatory that the OHS system of a given organization be evaluated on a regular basis through a planned internal audit.
- The internal audit must be carried out by an expert in the field in order to lead to effective improvement paths.
- The expert in question must first be trained in ISO 45001 and in the practice of auditing for the proper conduct of the internal audit.
- The audit is carried out with the participation of all concerned stakeholders (staff and management). Indeed, all observations, remarks and suggestions are welcome.
- The ISO 45001 internal audit allows us to see the effectiveness of the company's preventive measures with regard to work accidents, to ensure that the audited OHS system is adapted to the requirements of the standard, and to prove through all these procedures that the company is reliable on an international scale.
Advantages of using our firm of experts
Whether you are a company, small or large, Extrend Consulting can help any organization achieve its Occupational Health and Safety goals. With our expertise in QSE standards, we understand the requirements of ISO 45001 in an efficient and practical manner. Using our expertise and skills, we help you in:
● promoting your OHS policy with the help of ISO 45001 certification
● optimizing your management system focused on the health and safety of your workers
● the realization of an internal audit of your working environment on a periodic basis (annually) so that you remain ISO 45001 certified
We put at your disposal our other specialties such as environment, quality and CSR to optimize your management system, in order to implement a healthier and safer working environment within your company.
Do not hesitate to contact us.