How ISO 45001 can benefit a supply chain

When ISO 45001 was published in March 2018, representatives from over 70 countries had contributed to the final draft. This means that the standard, which replaced OHSAS 18001, would become one of the most-used standards in the ISO suite. Given the worldwide nature of business today and that many businesses operate globally – thanks in no small part to the internet – the standard also has tangible benefits for organizations that have, or are part of global supply chains.

So, what are these benefits, and how do the principles of ISO 45001 improve your global supply chain?

Benefits of using ISO 45001 alone

One of the significant advantages of ISO 45001 is that the adoption of Annex SL allowed the standard to be integrated with other standards, such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, amongst others, as we examined in the previous article How to integrate ISO 45001 with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.

Therefore, if you are using ISO 45001 within a combined management system, you should find your environmental, quality, and health and safety objectives and processes easier to combine; but even using ISO 45001 alone, the benefits to your global supply chain can be great.

Can ISO 45001 improve business consistency of a global supply chain?

The success of your global supply chain, like any smaller business unit, depends on achieving objectives and satisfying customers. To do this, a global business needs to be able to ensure that key employees with key skills are in the right place at the right time. ISO 45001, with its objective of maintaining employee health, safety and wellbeing, can help achieve this, especially if implemented consistently throughout a complete global supply chain.

Many global organizations in recent years have used this ISO 45001-based model. For example, IBM’s recent “Wellness and Safety” program used these principles to drive efficiency and consistency through its massive supply chain by ensuring employee engagement, knowledge, awareness and engagement existed equally through all points of the global chain. The results can often be manifold; increased productivity, level of service and customer satisfaction along with developing improved employee loyalty.


Clause 6 of ISO 45001 deals with planning, and an intelligent and proactive attitude towards risk and opportunity is a “must have” for any successful global organization, not only for prevention of accidents and incidents, but in a general, day-to-day approach to global business.

In the previous article What are the new requirements for risk and opportunities according to ISO 45001 we looked at how the planning clause pertained specifically to hazards and risks within the workplace. It is relatively easy to see how this type of thinking can be engaged when considering either the same hazards throughout your global supply chain, or how it can be applied specifically to any major risks and opportunities facing a global business. Building a culture of active risk avoidance and mitigation within an organization works just as well globally as it does locally, taking into consideration various legal requirements specific for each country.

ISO 45001: How it can benefit a supply chain


Clause 7 in the ISO 45001 standard deals with support processes. Again, it is very easy to see how the issues of knowledge and awareness, as considered in the article How to perform awareness training in ISO 45001, can provide both a risk and an opportunity to the local and global side of a business.

Providing employees with the correct information, training and knowledge is critical through all parts of a supply chain – in many cases your ability to satisfy customers is only as strong as your weakest link. Taking a global view of how support is facilitated within your global supply chain can have a huge bearing on your effectiveness. ISO 45001 is a standard that is designed for all sizes of businesses, so it is worth remembering that implementing the same level of knowledge and awareness throughout your global supply chain is well worth the time and investment, as it will bring increased efficiencies and benefits.

Continual Improvement

This all-important objective underpins all the ISO standards. Again, it can be envisaged as a part of the ISO 45001 standard that should be an aspiration throughout your global operation. In an earlier article entitled How to define ISO 45001 objectives and plans, we looked at the importance of planning, achieving and reviewing objectives to an organization’s success and improvement. Again, this holds true for global organizations as well as smaller business units. Achieving continual improvement through meeting targets in any given business unit is commendable, but ultimately futile if other units within your global supply system do not share these objectives or underperform against them. Only organizations who seek continual improvement throughout the whole system will survive and prosper in today’s competitive marketplace.

ISO 45001: Working for small and large businesses

It therefore becomes obvious that whilst ISO 45001 can work for small businesses trying to reduce risk, remove hazards and continually improve, the principles also work for companies who operate global supply chains. ISO 45001 promotes and facilitates good practices that can be applied to local business units, but are even more effective when applied across a global supply chain where these principles can be a driver for positive culture change, decreased risk, good practice and continual improvement throughout your global operation.

ISO 45001, like OHSAS 18001 before it, is an effective tool for making workplaces healthier, safer, increasing employee involvement and ultimately fostering an environment where objectives can be achieved, and customers satisfied in the best environment possible. Why would you want to keep such good news local when your whole global supply chain could share the benefits?

Why not use this free Gap Analysis Tool to help measure your OH&S system against 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.