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ISO 45001:2018 Glossary of terms

The ISO 45001:2018 standard includes many terms that are needed to understand the Occupational Health & Safety Management System (OHSMS). This article defines what some of the most important terms mean within this standard. So, here is the ISO 45001 glossary.

Competence – When identifying competence requirements for a job, this means the skills, knowledge and experience needed to successfully perform the job. When applying competence to a person, this means the ability to apply the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to achieve the intended end result.

Conformity – When a process meets the requirements it is supposed to fulfill. Process conformity is the expectation of the internal audit process of the company where the auditor compares what is occurring in the process against what is supposed to occur. Conformity of the process is also expected in any other audit or process evaluation.

Consultation – This involves getting worker views and opinions before management makes a decision. This could include surveying workers, or worker representatives, to help management know what is expected before deciding on policy implementation. Consultation is often in the standard in conjunction with participation.

Contractor – This indicates when an external company provides services to the organization as per an agreed contract, specification or terms and conditions. In general, contractors typically work at the company’s facility while outsourcing takes place at another facility rather than that of the company.

Corrective action – The activity taken to correct a nonconformity. This activity tries to identify and address the root cause of the nonconformity so that it will not recur in the future, rather than just fixing the surface problem.

Documented information – The ISO 45001 standard uses the term documented information for anything that needs to be written down within the OHSMS. This includes documented procedures used to direct workers in how to perform tasks. It also includes documented records which indicate that processes and procedures were carried out as planned. To ensure you do not miss any required documentation, see the whitepaper Checklist of mandatory documentation required by ISO 45001.

Hazard – Anything that has a potential to cause injury or ill health. Hazards are identified for all processes so that actions can be taken to control or mitigate the effects of the hazards on workers. To help with understanding hazard control, see the article 5 levels of hazard controls in ISO 45001 and how they should be applied.

Injury or ill health – This is what organizations are trying to avoid with the OHSMS processes. Actions will be taken to avoid or mitigate these adverse effects on the physical, mental or emotional well being of employees, as they can negatively affect the worker.

ISO 45001 glossary of terms and definitions

Management system – A management system is the collected policies, processes, procedures and rule that a company puts in place for a specific purpose. OHSMS policies, procedures and rules are intended to support improvement of OH&S performance, fulfill legal and other requirements and achieve OH&S objectives.

Nonconformity – When a process does not meet the requirements it is supposed to fulfill. Process nonconformity can result in an audit finding during the internal audit process of the company. The auditor compares what is occurring in the process against what is supposed to occur. The audit nonconformity will result in a corrective action. For information on reacting to nonconformity, see the article Using corrective actions to eliminate nonconformities and drive health & safety improvements.

Objective – A statement which indicates the results the company wants to achieve for OH&S improvement. The objective should be S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based) with a plan created to achieve the target in the agreed-upon timeframe. The plan needs to identify who will do what, by when, and with what resources. For some help with OH&S objectives, see the article How to define ISO 45001 objectives and plans.

Outsource – This indicates when a company arranges for another organization to perform part of the functions of the organization. In general outsourcing takes place at another facility rather than that of the company (although it can take place on site by the outsourcing partner), where contractors generally work at the company’s facility.

Participation – Participation involves workers in management’s decision-making process, instead of simply collecting opinions. Workers become part of the team that makes workplace decisions, such as Joint Health & Safety Committees where workers and management review workplace safety and make plans to correct problems together. Participation is often in the standard in conjunction with consultation.

Policy – The formal documented intentions and direction for the organization, as indicated by top management. The OH&S policy is intended to communicate the overall goal of the organization with respect to OH&S activities and direction. See this template if you need help with creating the OH&S policy: OH&S Policy.

Scope – The boundaries of the OHSMS. The scope defines the applicability of the OHSMS or, in other words: where the rules of the OHSMS will apply for the organization. This could be one location such as a factory, or it could include many satellite locations where workers perform activities. An example of this is a construction firm which has employees working at many different job sites. To learn more about OH&S scope, see the article How to determine scope of the OH&SMS.

Top management – This denotes the person or group who is immediately responsible for, and directs, the company at the highest level within the scope of the OHSMS. For more on top management’s role, see the article To what extent should management be involved in your OH&SMS?

Worker – Any person who does work activities and is under the control of the company. This would include employees, contractors, summer student workers, temporary workers, etc.

Workplace – The area under the control of the company where the workers perform their activities. This can include not only the immediate workplace, but also other locations. An example of this would be a company that installs equipment at other locations. The other locations would also be included as a workplace.

For a better understanding of the terms of ISO 45001:2018 standard, download 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.