ISO 45001: Protecting Your People

Bill Barnes
Bill Barnes
November 18, 2021
Sponsored by: LRQA
NAEM Blog: ISO 45001: Protect Your People
Occupational health and safety management systems have traditionally focused on physical safety rather than broader health and well-being.

With both the impact and costs of employee mental health building as a result of the pandemic, organizations are now recognizing that OH&S is no longer just about managing physical risk, it must address the often hidden challenges that mental health and well-being brings to the changing world of work.

To understand more about the impact the pandemic has had on health, safety and well-being, LRQA interviewed 5,500 employees from organizations across 11 countries. The results demonstrated the need for organizational leaders to ensure they are looking after their employees’ overall health, particularly when they are working remotely.

Taking a closer look at the research results, LRQA’s subject matter experts hosted three separate webinars in Spain, The Netherlands, and the US, to consider the findings. They also discussed how ISO 45001, with the support of guidance documents ISO/FDIS 45003 and ISO 45005, can help organizations to address and overcome mental health concerns and find the right balance between the physical and psychosocial needs of their employees. Here we highlight some of the key insights from across the three webinars.

Three key take-aways:
  1. Changes in the workplace

    We have seen the greatest change to the world of work for a generation as people took to working at home and organizations had to swiftly adapt to overcome the added challenges of managing the health, safety and well-being of their people virtually.

    Looking ahead, global research consistently shows that it is likely that the office will no longer be the primary place of work, which presents organizations with the challenge of taking a hybrid approach to their health and safety management, as employees base themselves both on-site and at home on a more permanent basis.

    “For us, remote working has presented challenges around contact with employees who are based at home. Working remotely, they have struggled to understand what is expected of them and we’ve had to work hard to ensure they have clear guidelines on the tasks that they’re expected to do, as well as policies and training to reduce any work-related stress.” – Bill Barnes, LRQ

  2. Preventing the risks

    Management systems and third party certification can help organizations to embed best practice OH&S into their day-to-day operations. However, it’s crucial that a broader view of OH&S, that addresses overall well-being and psychosocial risks, is adopted.

    Through the implementation of an ISO 45001 compliant management system, organizations can confirm that they have followed international guidance to implement processes that minimize ALL health and safety risks.

    In addition to ISO 45001, ISO/FDIS 45003 launches at the end of 2021 and will be the first international standard to provide a structured framework to help organizations identify and address areas that can negatively impact employee’s mental health. Organizations can also look to ISO/PAS 45005 for guidance around safe working during the pandemic.

    “The ISO 45001 standard drives workplace health, safety and well-being and with the addition of ISO/FDIS 45003 and ISO 45005, organizations will have greater focus on psychosocial safety. If you build that into your toolbox of standards and your quality management system, then you will be able to successfully manage the well-being of your workforce. Equally, it’s important that leaders embed a culture that encourages and supports employees to contribute to the effectiveness of the OH&S management system. This way everyone has bought into the processes you have in place and understands their accountability or responsibility to report incidents, hazards, risks and other opportunities for improvement.” – Bill Barnes, LRQA

  3. Driving continuous improvement

    When an organization makes a conscious decision to address well-being through an ISO 45001 management system that has been rigorously audited by a third-party, it is a long-term commitment, is supported by top management, aligned with strategy and subject to continual improvement.

    It affects many aspects of the organization and is a much more formal approach that keeps the spotlight on addressing mental well-being. How to address employee well-being constantly changes, so continual improvement will be absolutely crucial. Static processes could quickly become redundant.


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About the Author

Bill Barnes
Bill Barnes
Bill Barnes is an Integrated Senior Lead Assessor working with LRQA since 2005 involved in ISO 9001, 14001, 45001 and Responsible Care© assessments. Bill has over thirty-five years of manufacturing engineering, consulting, training and assessment experience for quality, health & safety, environmental and security aspects in the service and manufacturing industries sectors working from on the floor liaison engineering to mid and senior management positions in industries including aerospace, transportation, chemicals, pulp and paper, food and beverage. He is a licensed Professional Engineer, IRCA Principal Auditor and Exemplar Global Responsible Care Auditor.

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