Is ISO 45001:2018 compliant with Annex SL?

If you are implementing an Occupational Health & Safety Management System (OHSMS) using the requirements of ISO 45001:2018 you may have noticed that this standard follows a ten clause format. If you are using any other ISO management system standards, such as ISO 9001:2015 or ISO 14001:2015, you will have found that this format is common to these other standards as well. The reason for this is that the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) uses a document that they call Annex SL to guide the structure of their management system standards. In this article you’ll learn more about the Annex SL, its benefits and its connection to ISO 45001.

What is Annex SL format, and what is it used for?

As indicated above, Annex SL is a document that the ISO group uses to dictate the format that is used for management system standards. Clauses 1 to 3 are common to all ISO standards, and talk about the standard itself. Clauses 4 to 10 are the clauses which include the requirements that an organization needs to meet in order to implement a management system. In general, the document dictates that ISO management system standards will follow the following clause format:

Clause 1 Scope – What is this standard used for.

Clause 2 Normative References – Other documents that need to be understood to use this document.

Clause 3 Terms and definitions – What words are specific for this standard and what they mean.

Clause 4 Context of the organization – How do you understand the organization that you are creating a management system for? What are the internal and external issues that affect you? Who are the interested parties and their expectations? What is the scope; where will your rules and policies apply?

Clause 5 Leadership – What does top management need to do to make sure the management system will function? This includes setting the overall policy of the management system.

Clause 6 Planning – How do you plan for risks, opportunities and improvement objectives for the organization? For the OHSMS this also includes planning for the specific hazards and risks presented by the processes of the organization.

Clause 7 Support – What processes do you need in place to manage resources, competence & awareness, communication and control documented information?

Clause 8 Operation – What are the day-to-day controls in place for the management system? This includes tracking the performance of the controls that are put in place for the OHSMS processes.

Clause 9 Performance Evaluation – How will you monitor and measure the management system to know it is working properly? This includes requirements for internal audit and management review.

Clause 10 Improvement – How will you take corrective action for problems and improve the management system and its processes?

It is important to note that Annex SL does not include requirements that organizations need to meet. This document is only for use by the ISO group when writing management system standard requirements.

What are the benefits of Annex SL?

Using the Annex SL format allows the management system standards to better follow a Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) format, which makes them much easier to understand as a cyclical process. The standard is written in the order it needs to be followed to allow the PDCA cycle to be used, as can be seen by the separation of the planning functions from the review functions of management. For more information about Annex SL and the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle related to it, see Has the PDCA Cycle been removed from the new ISO standards?

Additionally, having a common format means that implementing more than one ISO management system standard becomes much simpler. With many common requirements, each with the same clause number in all standards, it is very easy to see where you can use one process to meet the requirements of all the management system standards you want to implement. This can include such processes as interested parties (find the template here: List of Interested Parties, Legal and Other Requirements), internal audit and management review.

Annex SL & ISO 45001: How do they relate to each other?

Does ISO 45001:2018 meet Annex SL?

For the most part ISO 45001:2018 meets the Annex SL structure, but there are a few places that it differs from other standards which also follow this format. First, clause 5 includes requirements for worker participation, and is titled “Leadership and worker participation”. This includes important requirements for the consultation and participation of workers within the OHSMS, including worker input into the creation of the management system policies and rules.

In clause 10.2 which deals with process nonconformity and corrective actions, the ISO 45001:2018 standard includes OH&S incidents in addition to nonconformity. When you have an OH&S incident it is expected that you will also apply the requirements for corrective action to address the incident rather than just correcting the immediate issue.

For more details on the participation and consultation of workers, see this article: How to meet participation and consultation requirements in ISO 45001.

How does this benefit you?

Most importantly, having requirements that follow the PDCA cycle makes it much easier to follow as you implement your system, because it is simpler to see what needs to happen next in the cycle. Also, having a common format for management system standards can make it much easier to understand the requirements of a new management system once you have one already in place. Even if ISO 45001:2018 is the first management system you are implementing, you will find it easier to understand any future requirements you will read. Having a management system in place is supposed to be a benefit for your organization rather than being a burden, and by using the Annex SL format the ISO group is trying to make this goal easier to attain.

If you need some help understanding the ISO 45001:2018 requirements, see this whitepaper: Clause-by-clause explanation of ISO 45001:2018.

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.