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How to maintain your OHSMS after ISO 45001 certification

Gaining ISO 45001:2018 accreditation and your certificate after the audit is usually a great relief, given the amount of time and man hours invested for most companies. The reaction can be to relax and rest on your laurels for a while, but from experience I can certainly advise that is not the best way to proceed. If you have used a consultant, then he/she will almost certainly be preparing to move on to new pastures after the successful audit; likewise, if you have implemented your system using internal resources, then it is likely that the employees involved will be preparing to move on to new projects or devote time to tasks neglected during the busy run up to your certification audit. Either way, if you are one of the people with responsibility within the company’s OH&S (operational health and safety) system, then your thoughts will be turning towards how you can ensure your requirements are maintained and continual improvement occurs. So, what is the best way to go about this?

Maintaining good habits

Given that you have passed your certification audit, you have established good habits and fulfilled the clauses of the ISO 45001 standard. Consequently, you will need to repeat the vital elements of these clauses and drive initiatives that yield continual improvement. Some of these tips may help you:

  • Establish an “event calendar” or diary: This is an effective way of ensuring that you record future dates for important regular events in your OH&S management system, such as internal audits, employee feedback, risk assessments, and reviews of the organization’s health and safety policy. All compliance and legislation update requirements can also be recorded here.
  • Establish a continual improvement log: Continual improvement is at the very heart of the ISO family of standards, but sometimes is hard to quantify or provide evidence of. By establishing a formal record you can take note of any planned projects, events, or even suggestions that lead to a measurable improvement. As well as being tangible evidence for the auditor in your first surveillance audit, it is also a generally positive document to review in a departmental or top management meeting, and may be of interest to clients and stakeholders also.
  • Set up a health and safety forum: If you have not done so, this will ensure that you satisfy consultation requirements and, consequently, assist with hazard identification and corrective action. A regular forum or meeting can also be added to your diary, and ensure that employee focus is kept on the vital elements of the OH&S system mentioned above, and their execution.
  • Evaluate continually: Ensure any incident or “near miss” information continues to be recorded and is analyzed and acted upon by the team.
  • The “Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle: Continue to ensure this methodology is used throughout the coming year. Make sure that effective planning is at the heart of your OH&S system, with modifications made on the basis of accurate and reliable analysis of data. This will set the foundation for continual improvement through removal of risk, identification of hazards, and real actions to improve. You can find more details on this element in the article The importance of the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle in ISO 45001.

Preparing for the future

These measures will ensure that your organization and its OH&S system are set for the year ahead, and can face the first surveillance audit with confidence. Make sure your organization continues to focus on the elements that made your OH&S system effective and enabled your certification in the first place. Use effective internal audit, risk assessment, operational control, and stakeholder involvement to ensure your workplace remains safe, and hazards are identified and incidents prevented. Use your diary to ensure disciplines are performed in a timely manner, and your continual improvement log to capture evidence of systemic improvement. Prepare for your first surveillance audit in the same manner you did for your certification audit, and your organization will see the benefit.

To learn more about the requirements of ISO 45001 and how to maintain them, download this free white paper: Clause-by-clause explanation of ISO 45001:2018

Advisera John Nolan
John Nolan
John Nolan is a Fellow of the Institute of Leaders and Managers in the United Kingdom, and Prince 2 accredited with a background in Engineering and Electronics and Data Storage and Transfer. Having studied and qualified as both a Mechanical and Electronic Engineer, he has spent the last 15 years designing and delivering Quality Systems and projects across many sectors in the UK, including both national and local government.