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How to integrate ISO 45001 with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001

Is it possible to successfully integrate Quality, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems? Once upon a time, there was a great gulf between the Quality department and the Safety, Health, and Environment (SHE) department, across which they barely interacted. The integration of the Environmental Management System (EMS) and the Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OH&SMS) was always viewed as feasible, because OHSAS 18001 (the predecessor of ISO 45001) was created to be compatible with ISO 14001:2004. But, ISO 9001, while acknowledged as the “mother” standard, was considered to be something else altogether.

Then came Annex SL

The advent of the High-Level Structure, effective for all ISO standards published from September 2015, has changed this picture. Where each ISO technical committee (TC) previously had the relative freedom to decide on the structure of their standard, they must now abide by Annex SL, the new guideline for ISO standards writers. It dictates an identical 10-clause structure and core text shared by all new and updated standards.

Suddenly, in 2015, the ISO 9001 people and the ISO 14001 people were speaking the same language, and it no longer made sense to operate at arm’s length. In fact, it was now the OH&S lagging behind, as it took another two and a half years for ISO 45001 to be published. Now the three standards can be integrated with ease.

Where to start?

The obvious starting point is to define the organization’s context. This includes determining the system’s intended results / outcomes, along with the internal and external issues that will impact the achievement of these outcomes, as well as the relevant interested parties and their needs and expectations. It also includes defining the scope of the system. This can be done once for all three standards, while taking in consideration the fact that details (intended results, interested parties, etc.) will vary depending on the actual scope: for example, a QMS intended result of maintaining a consistent taste in a food product, an EMS intended outcome of meeting license specifications for effluent discharge, and the OHS intended outcome of minimizing risks related to handling hazardous substances.

Once these basics are in place, an integrated policy can be formulated, which includes all the mandatory and specific commitments relevant to the scope: meeting customer requirements (e.g., maintaining a consistent taste that customers love), preventing injury and ill health (e.g., by replacing outdated equipment), and protecting the environment (e.g., by using recycled packaging) and meeting compliance obligations.

Next steps

Apart from Context (clause 4) and Leadership (clause 5), clauses 6 to 10 are conveniently packaged into the PDCA cycle of PLAN (clause 6) – DO (clauses 7 & 8) – CHECK (clause 9) – ACT (clause 10).

The next step is Planning, which involves determining the risks and opportunities (relating to quality, the environment, or occupational health and safety) and the actions to address them in order to achieve the intended results / outcomes, as well as establishing objectives and plans to achieve them. In relative terms, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 have more focus on Planning – with aspect and impact identification and evaluation of significance (ISO 14001) and hazard identification and risk assessment (ISO 45001) taking up considerable effort.

Where are the differences?

The greatest divergence between ISO 9001 and the other two systems is to be found under Operation (clause 8). Clause 8 of ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 is brief, addressing similar issues under operational planning and control and emergency preparedness and response. However, ISO 9001 goes into great detail on clause 8. This is because there are multiple operational aspects to ensuring that product meets specifications.

The Leadership (clause 5) sections are very similar, apart from the additional sub clauses 5.1.2 (Customer focus) in ISO 9001, and 5.4 (Consultation and participation of workers) in ISO 45001. Both reflect the key positions of the main interested parties in the two standards – one outside, and the other within the organization. The presence of the key interested party within the organization means that consultation and participation is a recurring theme throughout the ISO 45001 standard. ISO 9001 seeks customer feedback in clause 9.1.2 (Customer satisfaction).

Performance evaluation processes will also be streamlined to seamlessly incorporate all IMS requirements for monitoring and measurement, evaluation of compliance, internal audit, and management review. Note that OH&S has the additional requirement for incident investigation. Management review will simply need the additional inputs relevant to each standard, such as trends in OH&S incidents and the results of consultation and participation.

The beauty of it all

Whether ISO 45001 is added to an existing QMS and EMS, or whether all three are starting from scratch, the process will be similar, because there are clear building blocks that fit together.

The beauty of building one integrated management system (IMS) is that while the identified risks might be many and varied, when it comes to the actions to address them, there is often convergence. The same operational controls may address quality and environmental, as well as health and safety risks. Regular equipment maintenance is an example. This explains the stress on ensuring that the systems are integrated into the organization’s business processes.

It’s only words

Interestingly, the TCs still hang onto their own pet terms in some cases, such as “intended results” in ISO 9001 being replaced by “intended outcomes” in ISO 14001 and ISO 45001. ISO 45001 eschews the “preferred” term of “compliance obligations” and holds onto the old beloved “legal and other requirements.” Luckily, users can ignore this and use terminology that makes sense to them. This has made integration of multiple standards painless. After all, the goal is always performance improvement.

Download this free white paper: How to integrate 2015 revisions of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 to learn more about how to implement an integrated management system.

Advisera Theodora Rondozai
Theodora Rondozai
Theodora Rondozai is an analytical chemist by training (although she was last inside a lab many years ago), with work experience in England and Southern Africa. For 15 years she has been providing consultancy and training services to organizations or individuals who need to acquire the skills to implement or audit ISO standards-based management systems, including ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and ISO 45001. She is fascinated by people and runs workshops in order to “people-watch.” She is a contributor in the recently published book “Township Girls.”