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ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety standard draws inspiration from the best practices in health and safety worldwide. It uses a risk-based approach to identify hazards and respond proactively, making workplaces safer and healthier for employees, the environment, and customers.

One of the key aspects of ISO 45001 is employee participation right from the top management to the last man on the shop floor. Therefore, the standard is designed for maintaining a consistently safe and healthy workplace with continuous improvement. It aims not only to protect the stakeholders from physical injuries but also to ensure emotional well-being by scrutinizing every potential hazard or risk – and optimization for excellence.

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Although ISO 45001 is not a legal requirement, corporates that are ISO 45001 certified demonstrate their genuine commitment to health and safety and enhance their brand’s reputation as a responsible enterprise. Businesses that comply with ISO 45001 will find it easier to meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. What makes it especially popular is the fact that enterprises do not have to modify their operations to suit the standard; instead, it provides a framework that helps businesses identify and manage risks and potential dangers in their existing operational processes.

Implementing ISO 45001 Requirements: Why a Well-documented Process is Critical

Businesses serious about employee well-being and wishing to be ISO 45001 certified would need to begin with understanding the requirements of the safety management systems elucidated in it.

The next step would be to create a safety policy and ensure that it integrates with all relevant workflows. This will ensure that employees can proactively participate in it without feeling burdened about taking on additional responsibilities. This will also improve collaboration between the stakeholders as all interrelated workflows need to consistently implement the recommended safety practices.

Since an organization can have multiple potential risks and dangers, it is important to prioritize them based on severity and the likelihood of their occurrence. The safety plan must also align with business metrics to set goals. It must add to the profitability of the company instead of becoming a cost center.

Finally, it is essential to track and monitor progress to ensure the safety program achieves its purpose. In case of any gaps or failures, identifying the root causes, implementing corrective action, and continuously improving the program become essential.

Having a robust document management system in place is crucial to ensure all stakeholders can truly collaborate and have “anytime, anywhere” access to a single source of the latest data, documents, and information related to safety management.

Some of the key ingredients of a successful implementation of ISO 45001 are:

Planning: Once the policy has been defined, the goals are set, and responsibilities are assigned, the development and implementation of an ISO 4500-compliant OH&S management system need to be planned. This should take into account the hazards, the risks, and the opportunities. Based on these three aspects, the resources need to be identified and allocated, responsibilities assigned, timeframes set, measurement tools put in place, and transparency ensured. Further, all these aspects need to be documented and maintained carefully and the impact recorded.

Competence: Safe behavior is a skill that needs to be updated periodically through proper training, especially in high-risk environments. Employees’ competence must be reviewed and documented periodically and their professional development should be ensured through proper training and education.

Communication: Every worker must be aware of the safety policy of the organization, understand what it implies for their area of operation, and adhere to processes specified for their role. If they do not wish to engage in an unsafe operation, they must be made aware of their right to withdraw or seek sufficient training to handle the situation. Periodic communication of the OH&S management system without revealing sensitive company information or compromising worker confidentiality is also important.

Documentation: As mentioned earlier, the standard requires the company to implement structured and controlled documentation and record-keeping process for OH&S management system-related information. Version control and traceability are two criteria that need to be kept in mind.

Automation of ISO 45001 Implementation

While ISO 45001 allows businesses to work within their existing operations, it also has a tall ask that requires:

  • Operational planning and control with processes and controls for consistency in achieving the health and safety goals
  • A competent workforce that has been trained properly to meet the potential risks and handle them with skill
  • Documentation of all processes, with all changes being monitored and recorded
  • Elimination of hazard and reduction of risk by implementing controls and mitigative measures to reduce, remove, or tolerate the risks based on the severity
  • Change management to address changes and monitor its impact

Not only within the organization, but the safety program should also be effective across the supply chain, right from the procurement of machinery, raw materials, services, and so on based on established specifications and processes. In case of hazardous workplaces, a permit to work system must be put in place to ensure only a skilled worker has access to the site, for a specific period on a specific date. The place must be prepared for the job to be done and the personnel should be given protective gear based on the nature of the risk.

The effectiveness of the safety management system must be reviewed periodically to ensure it reflects all the current risks and past mistakes that have been corrected.

Audits and inspections, management review, and root cause analysis plays a very important role in strengthening the safety program.

Given the very evolved need of ISO 45001, automation becomes important. Manual systems can become hard to maintain and update, making safety difficult to implement, monitor, document, and improve on.

ComplianceQuest’s Environment, Health, and Safety Management (EHS) Software is an integrated cloud-based solution, designed to enable employers to align with ISO 45001 for health and safety. It enables the automation of safety incident recording and anywhere, anytime electronic reporting. A cloud-based solution, it takes a modular approach to safety management, allowing businesses to automate in a phased manner.

From audit and inspection management to management review, incident and observations reporting, to documentation, training, and dashboards and reporting for faster decision making, it has all the elements needed to automate safety management. It enables businesses to take a risk-based approach to safety, making them proactive in risk management and aiming for zero incidents.

To know more about how ComplianceQuest can automate your ISO 45001 implementation, visit: https://www.compliancequest.com/iso-standards/iso-45001-management/

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