Governance Best Practices

What is ISO 45001: Understanding the Challenges

ISO 45001 is an international standard for creating an occupational health and safety management system. It helps organizations develop a risk-based approach to maintaining and improving workplace conditions. The ISO 45001 aims to lower the risk of death, injury and disease within the workplace, creating a healthy environment for all employees.


ISO 45001 helps organizations identify and mitigate workplace risks and hazards, with an emphasis on the safeguarding of both mental and physical health. It is the global standard for best-practice health and safety processes and is used by organizations across the world. After embedding the framework, an organization can gain certification to prove compliance with the highest standards in occupational health and safety.


Because of the scope and scale of the framework, embedding it can be a challenge. Organizations will need to perform a root and stem internal audit of risks and hazards as well as horizon scanning. Creating and communicating new processes throughout the organization will also need a variety of resources. But an investment in occupational health and safety standards brings a range of benefits to organizations.


This article explores the ISO 45001, its benefits, and the challenges faced by organizations seeking compliance.


What is ISO 45001: Occupational Health and Safety?

ISO 45001: Occupational health and safety was published in 2018 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) with input from experts from across the world. It’s a collection of best-practice processes and procedures to improve and maintain occupational health and safety standards. Organizations use it to create end-to-end risk management systems for workplace health and safety.


Health and safety risk management systems are vital in high-risk working environments, but the ISO 45001 can be used within any industry to ensure the well-being of employees. The framework can be used in a range of settings and considers both mental and physical health in the workplace. Its standards have been adopted by organizations and countries across the world.


ISO 45001 focuses on identifying the unique risks and hazards in an organization’s entire operation. Leaders are provided with a framework to maintain an end-to-end risk management system, achieving compliance with health and safety legislation. The result is a safer working environment with an engaged workforce.


The Benefits of Being ISO 45001 Certified

Certification proves that the ISO 45001 standards are fully embedded within an organization.
Benefits of ISO 45001 include:

  • A proactive approach to reducing the risk of workplace injuries.
  • Guidance for leadership to meet health and safety commitments and responsibilities.
  • A framework for achieving compliance to health and safety legislation.
  • Improved employee health, well-being, and morale.
  • Certification can enhance the reputation of the organization.


Understanding ISO 45001 Requirements

To understand the challenges of implementing ISO 45001, organizations should understand its structure. Like other ISO standards such as the ISO 9001 quality management standard, the ISO 45001 is structured in 10 clauses. The first three explore the scope of the standard, as well as laying out key terms and definitions. The other seven clauses contain the requirements for achieving compliance with ISO 45001 standards.


The Seven Clauses for Achieving Compliance with ISO 45001 Standards:


  • Clause One: Context

Helps contextualize the operational function of the organization when considering occupational health and safety. This includes existing workplace risk management systems, health and safety legislation compliance, and key stakeholders with responsibility in this area.

  • Clause Two: Leadership and worker participation

Support from senior management is vital for achieving compliance with ISO 45001. Management will need to take responsibility for driving improvement in health and safety processes. Workforce participation is equally important, as it ensures ISO 45001 processes are properly embedded. Organizations should commit to consult and inform employees on changes, providing training and resources.

  • Clause Three: Planning

The planning clause helps identify and mitigate the risks and hazards within the organization’s setting. Organizations must identify health and safety risks and opportunities within the workplace, including facilities and equipment.

  • Clause Four: Support

A range of resources are needed to fully embed a best-practice risk management system for occupational health and safety. This may include HR support, financial resources, employee engagement campaigns, and training materials.

  • Clause Five: Operation

A major focus of this clause is risk management of operational change to ensure health and safety standards are maintained. This means horizon scanning and proper planning.

  • Clause Six: Performance evaluation

A system of review and evaluation is needed to ensure standards are maintained and improved. Organizations should utilize workforce consultation, leadership reviews and internal audits of risk controls.

  • Clause Seven: Improvement

Continuous improvement of health and safety processes is an integral part of ISO 45001. Management should drive positive change by assessing the performance of procedure and processes.


Diligent Can Help

Simplify ISO 45001 with Diligent Compliance software. Track the project, document internal audits, and perform health and safety legislation compliance monitoring with “at a glance” dashboard reports to highlight any red flags.

Book a demo with Diligent Compliance today.

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