ISO 45001 Blog

5 steps to take once a corrective action is initiated in your OHSMS

When it comes to an OHSMS (Operational Health and Safety Management System) certified to ISO 45001:2018, the corrective action process is central to ensure the root cause of incidents and accidents is addressed and reoccurrence prevented. In the previous article entitled Seven steps for corrective and preventive action in the OH&S Management System we briefly examined the place that corrective actions take in the OHSMS, but what actions and what detail do we need to consider when an action is defined and put in place to ensure that it is effective and, vitally, that there is no reoccurrence of the issue?

Corrective action – Ensuring it is effective

Many organizations go to great lengths to ensure that corrective actions are put in place in response to incidents or accidents that occur within the company, yet make less effort to ensure that the root cause analysis is effective and that reoccurrence can be prevented. So, given that the litmus test of a corrective action’s effectiveness is the ability to prevent the issue from reoccurring, the following steps would be prudent to undertake to ensure that this happens:

  1. Review of process and suitability of corrective action: It often pays to review the corrective action quite soon after implementation. In many cases, employees involved in the process may be able to tell you if a corrective action may not eventually be effective; there may be factors obvious to people working closely within a project where a change may not have the desired effect and an amendment may be needed. Solicit the feedback of the people closest to the process and potentially at risk from the results of a reoccurrence – they are normally quickest to offer an opinion on whether the corrective action will be effective or not.
  2. Schedule regular follow ups: Ensure that you establish a process where follow ups and reviews happen efficiently and at the correct intervals. Was the original incident/accident caused through failure of a process that is used every day, or via risk that manifests itself very rarely – perhaps under a rare set of circumstances? Either way, you must ensure that the risk has been considered in the review frequency. There is no point in closing off a corrective action if reoccurrence has not been given the chance to happen because of any of these factors – that will only lull you into a false sense of security and endanger your employees in the long term.
  3. Ensure that root cause analysis is eliminated: This is ultimately the key to ensuring a corrective action is effective. When you have proof that reoccurrence has been prevented under similar circumstances due to a fundamental change in the process, then you have evidence to support the theory that the root cause has been tackled. Again, ensure you have agreement from the process owners and stakeholders to ensure that this scenario is the case.
  4. Record all your work: Ensure that all your workings and details are recorded. This can serve several purposes – to establish details in the unfortunate instance of a reoccurrence and provide further foundation for corrective action, or to provide educational material through your OHSMS in the future. Recorded data of this type can provide the basis of risk analysis in the future for process improvement and prevention of further incidents and accidents.
  5. Close the feedback loop: Communicate all the outcomes and details of changes back to your employees to ensure that the feedback loop is effectively closed in the event that no more suggestions are made. This keeps the prospect of continual improvement open.

So, given that elimination of root cause is the most critical factor, is there anything else to note that would be of benefit to our OHSMS and its operation?

Corrective action – Ensuring long-term benefit

If your organization is serious about OH&S, then prevention is always better than cure, but to ensure that continual improvement is evident, it is wise to make sure that lessons are learned from any accidents and actions are taken to prevent reoccurrence accordingly. Reviewing your corrective action process and ensuring that it plays a major part in mitigating and removing risk is a key element of ongoing employee safety. If you can ensure your process is effective at removing root cause and that your employees and stakeholders can play an active part in this process, then OH&S will become a factor for all to be concerned about and be involved in. When that occurs, your corrective action process will be functioning efficiently and your employees will be safer.

To learn more about corrective actions and other requirements of ISO 45001, 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.