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Last steps to perform before the ISO 45001 certification audit

It can take a lot of time, effort, and resources to implement an Occupational Health & Safety Management System (OHSMS) using the requirements of ISO 45001:2018, but just getting it running is not the end. Along with maintaining and improving your management system, you may have chosen to have a certification audit performed by an outside certification body; and, if so, you want to do what you can to make sure you have the best chance of passing this audit and gaining certification.

So, how do you prepare your company for the ISO 45001 certification audit?

Implementing the OHSMS for successful certification

To prepare for an OHSMS certification audit, as with any management system, the first step is to make sure that you have addressed all the elements in the requirements standard within your system:

  • Do you understand the scope of your OHSMS?
  • Do you have an OH&S policy to clearly identify the overall intention and direction of the company’s OHSMS?
  • Do you have OH&S objectives to work toward improvement of your OHSMS?
  • Do you have a method of understanding your OH&S legal requirements and keeping up to date with legislation changes?
  • Have your OH&S hazards been identified and the associated risks assessed?

In short, is your system fully implemented and working? Of course, you may know that each element was implemented, but how do you know if it is working properly? This is where your monitoring, improvement, and review of the OHSMS are vital.

For more information on implementing ISO 45001, check out this blog post about 12 Steps for Implementation and Certification against ISO 45001.

Monitoring, improvement and review of the OHSMS

Although the processes of internal audit, corrective action, and management review are required as part of implementing the OHSMS, they are critical to understanding if your management system is working. These are the processes used to confirm that the system’s processes meet the set arrangements, identify and fix problems, and properly review and assign resources where they are needed. All of this is significant when preparing for your certification audit.

So, if monitoring, correcting, improving, and reviewing your OHSMS is also part of preparing for the certification, what are the expectations of the certification auditors for these processes? Here are some things to consider with these processes as you prepare for your certification body to come for their audit:

  • Internal Audits: This is the key way that your company checks that the processes within your OHSMS are meeting the arrangements that you had planned for them to meet. If you have a process to ensure that all employees who need to be are competent to operate lifting equipment to avoid injury, then verifying that this is happening is necessary. Before your certification audit your certification body will expect that you will have performed at least one complete cycle of audits; auditing every process in your OHSMS at least once. Knowing that processes are meeting expectations is the best way to prepare for your certification.
  • Corrective Action: Of course, you would hope to find everything meeting expectations during your internal audits, but this is not always the case. When you do find a problem, either through internal audit or other means, properly documenting how you address these problems is vital. For a complex problem, make sure that you get to the root cause of the problem and fix it before you give up. Only then can you prevent its recurrence. Additionally, if you have any problems found in your certification audit, but already have corrective actions in process to address them, this shows you are on top of any problems from your OHSMS.
  • Improvement Processes: One of the key improvement processes within your OHSMS is the use of the OH&S objectives. These objectives are the most important improvements that you have identified to improve the OH&S of your company, so knowing how they are progressing is vital. If you have an objective to reduce the number of OH&S near misses by 5%, your certification body will expect that you will be tracking this progress and know how far you have come.
  • Management Review: The last thing that is of high importance to the certification auditors is your use of management review. They will expect that your top management is involved in knowing how the OHSMS is progressing and addressing any problems and resource constraints that have been highlighted. Management commitment is necessary for the functioning of the OHSMS, and having these reviews is vital for preparing for your certification audit.

For a quick reference of how ISO auditors think when assessing management systems, see this article from the ISO 27001 blog: Infographic: The brain of an ISO auditor – What to expect at a certification audit.

The best preparation is using the processes of the system to improve

After implementing your OHSMS, you will want to prepare for the certification audit, but the best way to prepare is to use the processes and procedures that are included in the OHSMS already. By performing your internal audits, corrective actions, improvements, and management reviews, you will not only prepare for the certification auditors to come, but you will also set yourself up for the task of maintaining and improving your OHSMS as time goes on; and improving your system was why you implemented an OHSMS in the first place, wasn’t it?

For a graphical representation of the implementation process, check out this Diagram of ISO 45001 Implementation Process.

Advisera Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar is a Certified Manager of Quality / Organizational Excellence through the American Society for Quality and has been a Quality Professional since 1994. Mark has experience in auditing, improving processes, and writing procedures for Quality, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems, and is certified as a Lead Auditor for ISO 9001, AS9100, and ISO 14001.