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Using Gap Analysis to prepare for ISO 45001 implementation

Most organizations or employees responsible for OHSMS (Operational Health and Safety Management System) activity or ISO 45001:2018 implementation will testify that it can be a daunting process. With all the elements of the standard to consider, plus all the associated actions to fulfill them, it can feel overwhelming when you are considering what systems, processes, and documents you have to put in place to comply. It is highly likely, however, that you have processes and documents established that either fulfill some of the ISO 45001 standard elements, or at least go some way towards doing so. So, how you can start identifying these processes and evaluating how they match with the ISO 45001 standard? That’s where a gap analysis comes in.

Gap Analysis – The detail

Firstly, let us be clear that a gap analysis is not a requirement of the ISO 45001 standard, but as outlined above it is a very good idea if you are trying to measure where your OHSMS is, versus where it needs to be with the standard itself. It can accomplish several things for you:

  • illustrate what processes and documents you have,
  • ensure you understand the gap that exists between them and the requirements of the standard, and
  • ensure that you have to constantly revisit the standard itself, which helps from a knowledge point of view when the time comes to bridge that gap.

Now let’s look at how the gap analysis should be undertaken:

  • Use a gap analysis tool and the ISO 45001 standard itself, or preferably both. Ensure you form a team to undertake the gap analysis that has OH&S (Occupational Health and Safety) knowledge and experience, and working knowledge of the standard itself. The better knowledge you enlist here, the more accurate and effective your gap analysis will be.
  • Clearly lay out each clause of the standard and assess if you have processes and/or documented information that fully or partly addresses those needs. For example, clause 45.2 outlines the requirement for an OH&S Policy; does your organization have one? If so, does it meet all of the eight requirements in this clause of standard? If not, record the gap and required action to bridge that gap, and repeat throughout the standard.
  • The gaps you have identified can then be set out into a list of requirements and actions with timelines, responsibilities, and estimations of resources and materials required. In effect, the results of the gap analysis can form the basis of your ISO 45001 implementation project plan. The results of your gap analysis can also help your organization assess the best methods and individuals to be responsible for your OHSMS implementation, a factor we looked at in the article Who is the ideal project manager for your ISO 45001 project?

On completion of your gap analysis and ISO 45001 implementation plan, you will now be ready to invoke the help of your organizational leaders and set the foundations for the importance of OH&S in your workplace, an issue you can read more about in the article To what extent should organizational leaders be involved in your OH&SMS?

Gap analysis: The real benefit

A gap analysis can help an organization close the gap between its actual OHSMS and the ISO 45001 standard, and the more efficiently that is done, the more costs savings the organization will derive from getting processes defined quickly and not having to repeat the actions and communications to do so. Critically, when it comes to ISO 45001 and employee well-being being at risk, possibly the biggest advantage of the gap analysis is that it can quickly help you to improve your actual OHSMS performance, and thereby improve your employee safety and reduce risk immediately.

The real benefit of the gap analysis is that if your organization does have gaps that can lead to increased risk and danger to your employees, then they can be highlighted and enable you to close them more quickly than otherwise. Identifying areas of high priority is one of the main advantages of the gap analysis, and this may not be so easy to do during a normal ISO 45001 implementation project, where different stakeholders may tackle the clauses of the standard in the order they find easier, while your employees may be in danger where gaps exist in other areas. With the combination of cost savings, assisting with your project planning, and having an immediate and positive effect in accident prevention, can your organization afford to ignore a gap analysis?

Why not use our free  Gap Analysis Tool to assess the gap between your OHSMS and the ISO 45001 standard?

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.