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We've talked a lot recently about ISO 45001:2018 and how businesses use our software to integrate health and safety into core business processes.
Keen to find out how our industry partners are helping businesses to meet the new ISO 45001:2018 requirements, we caught up with Rachel Churchman, Managing Consultant at Blackmores.
What's your role with health and safety?
I worked with a health and safety and employment law consultancy for a number of years, so my area of expertise is health and safety and environmental management systems.
What was your initial reaction to ISO 45001:2018?
ISO 45001:2018 has been a long time coming. The standard provides common framework for occupational health and safety and guidance within Annex A.
The standard now focuses a lot more on participation of workers which is a welcome move.
At Blackmores, when we go into an organisation, we talk to workers at all levels of the organisation. We can be talking to senior management about their importance of their role in the management system, through to operative workers and what health and safety means to them.
Do you feel there is a stigma around health and safety?
Health and safety is still seen as extra paperwork that needs to be completed - to satisfy a tender or a contract.
It's quite easy for organisations to forget that the health and safety controls are there for a reason: to make sure their employees go home safely at the end of the day.
Unfortunately, when health and safety is seen as a burden, and risk assessments get put together by people in offices who aren't experts - they haven't been out in the field and don't know what the hazards are for the tasks they're assessing. Often, they then get filed away and put on a shelf somewhere rather than being communicated to those that need them.
Organisations need to be creative to get employees involved with health and safety to ensure it's effective for everyone. More importantly, the controls need to be communicated to those doing the work because they are there for a reason.
Too often, health and safety can be reactive. This isn't helped by overzealous health and safety managers who, rather than assessing the hazards and implementing controls to mitigate risks to a safe and sensible level, stop things from happening.
If health and safety hasn't been managed well within the organisation, they need all levels of the organisation to see the benefits of changing. It can be a challenge when talking to companies about ISO 45001:2018 to get them to change culture within their organisation. Change is scary.
When Blackmores goes into an organisation, how do you get started?
We are a team of consultants and all have practical real-world experience of implementing management systems within companies. We've all been there. We understand the challenges businesses face internally. We understand the barriers and know what is needed to be done. This gives us the tools and experience to help others.
The first step is finding where organisations are on their health and safety journey. We start with a gap analysis. During this process we find most organisations are doing a lot already but it's not formalised, so they haven't got consistent evidence in place.
We help organisations to understand what they are doing well already, then we help them to put in place the processes, procedures and controls to make sure they are both compliant with the law and the Standard.
From there, we then engage with the senior management team to get a better understanding of the real issues that are pertinent to them. We assess the internal issues and external pressures, current culture of the business, knowledge of their workers and the perception of health and safety in their organisation.
Once we've built this picture, we can then support our clients with an ISO 45001:2018 action plan.. Health and safety laws govern what must be in place. The law is the law. What we do is help to demystify it for our clients. We help verify legal compliance, we assist through site based auditing. It's a practical approach to understanding the requirements.
We help businesses to create a management system that is sensible for their business.
What is the main challenge organisations have when tackling ISO 45001?
People see ISO 45001:2018 as a challenging, big Standard. It can be quite scary because of the amount of legislation involved.
However, if something happened onsite and your organisation doesn't have the risk assessments, the method statements and controls in place, your organisation is likely to be fined. It’s not just breaking the law that causes financial impact, but reputational damage, and civil action from those personally impacted will hit the bottom line too.
We tend to find a lot of organisations want to get it right, but they don't know where to start. It's not as onerous as people initially think. We help businesses to implement practices which are effective for their business.
Company directors are increasingly getting fined for health and safety negligence. Does ISO 45001:2018 go far enough to prevent this happening?
ISO 45001:2018 puts health and safety firmly in the boardroom and sets the requirement to involve all workers. There is a real focus on leadership commitment.
It's not enough for a company director to sign a policy statement (which you may have got away with under OHSAS 18001.) There is far more requirements for management to get involved with the management system through leadership, strategy, support, and ensuring there are resources in place to ensure controls are effective.
Management must review the performance of the management system and ensure change is effective. ISO 45001:2018 is really helping senior level employees to understand the responsibilities. By doing that and working to a framework, that should keep organisations out of trouble. At very least, they are able to demonstrate they are mitigating foreseeable risks.
With ISO 45001:2018, there is a greater emphasis on employee health and well-being. Is that a trend you've noticed?
In the last couple of years there has been a real improvements in organisations focusing on health and well-being. For example, the construction industry has focused much more on the mental health of the workforce. Across all industries we are also seeing more mental health first-aid carers. However, there is still a long way to go. Employees are taking an increasing number of stress-related sick days.
With the Annex SL structure, do you think businesses are finding is a lot easier to manage processes horizontally?
From Blackmore's point of view, the introduction of ISO 45001 makes it much easier to manage an integrated business management system.
Core business processes can have an integrated approach. This makes it a lot easier for employees to understand controls and how processes cross over - especially for ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 45001:2018 and regulations such as COSHH. Annex SL makes it far easier. We are now getting more clients coming to us who want multiple standard management systems. Businesses really are understanding the benefits of having multiple management systems.
Your top tips?
I have two top tips:
- For improving health and safety, use the ISO 45001:2018 framework. Purchase it from BSI's website! Even if you don't want the hassle of formal certification, an organisation which follows ISO 45001:2018 will put themselves in a stronger position.
- Read all the standard! Annex A provides great guidance which the old standard didn't have. It's much easier to understand.