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How to define ISO 45001 objectives and plans

In any ISO 45001 system, the objectives and the plans designed to meet those objectives are critical to the success of the system’s performance. As opposed to other commonly used standards like those dealing with quality or environmental issues, the effect of these critical health & safety factors can have a direct bearing on the welfare of your workforce, too. Therefore, it is critical that both the objectives and plans are well thought out, that they consider all parties and stakeholders, and are designed to lessen the risk for your workforce. So, given the criticality of getting these two aspects right, what exactly should your organization consider when defining them?

Objectives: What to consider

Clause 6.2 of the ISO 45001:2018 standard deals with “OH&S objectives and planning to achieve them.” As is common with all objectives, these should be “S.M.A.R.T” (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound). Obviously, the objectives should be consistent with your ISO 45001 policy, and the stated goal will be to remove or reduce the risk of any accidents or incidents that may result in injury or ill health to your employees. But what else do we need to consider when forming objectives?

  • Legal obligations: these are vital to any OH&S system, and all applicable legislation must be recorded, and updates monitored. For more details, see the previous article Advice to ensure you meet regulatory requirements.
  • Stakeholders: all external and internal stakeholders must be considered. These may include employees, shareholders, local residents, pressure groups, and so forth.
  • Technological options, financial, business and operational requirements: this acknowledges that every business will have different infrastructures, needs, and requirements, and that your objectives and plans should be uniquely designed to suit your needs.

Armed with the above knowledge, we are now ready to define our objectives. As stated above, we understand that these will differ from one organization to another, but perhaps some examples of these may help to understand the types of objectives that may benefit your organization:

  • man-hours worked since last accident
  • average number of employee days absent per annum (can be measured against national averages for comparison in your own region)
  • number of OH&S risk assessments undertaken
  • number of audit non-conformances (external and internal)
  • employee OH&S satisfaction survey results

As you will see, the examples above are a mixture of reactive and proactive items. Some are simply a measurement of the performance against a stated objective, but some of the proactive objectives are more aspirational in terms of encouraging increased internal audit or risk assessment. You can read more about this in the previous articles How to perform risk assessment in OHSAS 18001 and How to perform internal audits in ISO 45001. This mix of objectives will ensure that you measure your results effectively, but also build in the aspect of continual improvement that the standard requires, which is critical. So, what do we need to specifically consider about the plans we must create to achieve these objectives?

Plans: What to consider

What the standard advises in terms of plans is relatively simple. The key components of any ISO 45001 plan are that it should have:

  • what will be done
  • what resources are needed
  • who will be responsible
  • when it will be completed
  • how the results will be evaluated
  • how the actions will be integrated in the business processes

So, in common with most other projects, you need to specify methods, responsibility, and timelines for the construction and delivery of a plan that will meet your desired outcome in terms of your stated objectives. These can be as simple as you wish but pay careful attention to the final two points above. Ensuring you build in the ability to monitor, review, and adjust is critical to ensuring that you keep on track to achieve your objective. Likewise, ensuring that you can embed the actions into your OH&S Management System processes will make them less likely to be forgotten. Unlike other disciplines, many times there is no second chance to get something right in an OH&S system. Failed plans can result in a negative impact on employee health, which is why you should always have a proactive element in your objectives. Hopefully, this article will help you to do just that, and protect your employee well-being and your business simultaneously.

Why not use our free ISO 45001 Gap Analysis Tool to assess your OH&S system versus the ISO 45001 standard?

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.