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5 Things You Can Do Now to Prepare for the ISO 45001 Transition Deadline

The deadline for companies to transition to the new ISO 45001 standard has been extended to 11 September 2021 due to COVID-19. That means companies that are currently certified to OHSAS 18001 will have an additional six months to migrate their systems over to the new standard.

While the September deadline might seem like it’s a long way off, it’s actually closer than you think — and a lot can happen in the interim. Therefore, it’s important for companies to take advantage of this extra time to start preparing. Not only will this give you a leg up when the deadline rolls around, but it’s a great way to improve your company’s safety performance today.

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Here are five things you can do now to prepare for the upcoming ISO 45001 transition:

1. Choose an EHS software system

You will need to keep detailed safety records for ISO 45001, so it’s important to make sure you have a good system in place for managing all this information. Plus, if you plan to pursue certification, you will need to have all this documentation available to demonstrate conformance.

When looking for an EHS software system, make sure it can handle all the tasks you might need such as audits and inspections, near miss reporting, incident management, and training tracking.

2. Take stock of your safety data

As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. If you want to be compliant with ISO 45001, you will need to systematically measure and monitor your safety performance. This includes collecting a variety of data about your safety program — something most companies are doing already.

Now is a good time to take stock of the data you currently have. This is going to be important as you think about future key performance indicators (KPIs) and opportunities for improvement.

If you’re using EHS software, this will be easy because all your data is stored in one central location. Otherwise, here are some common sources of safety data:

  • Hazard and risk assessments
  • Injury reports
  • Inspection forms
  • Training records
  • Maintenance paperwork
  • Employee surveys

It’s also a good time to familiarize yourself with the types of information you’re collecting. If you’re looking at inspection forms, what fields are included? For employee surveys, what questions were asked? These are helpful things to know.

3. Update your OH&S policy

ISO 45001 requires companies to develop a written OH&S policy. This document includes a commitment to provide safe and healthy working conditions for the prevention of work-related injury, to eliminate hazards, and to the consultation and participation of workers, among other things.

If you already have a written health and safety policy in place, it may simply be a case of updating this document to meet the new requirements. Just remember that your policy must be tailored to your organization, so if you’re currently using a generic template, you’ll need to rewrite it to fit your organization specifically. This can take some time, so it’s best to start early.

4. Train your employees

Employee involvement is an important aspect of ISO 45001. Therefore, it is critical that you provide adequate training so that everyone can participate effectively. Now is the time to start thinking about what types of training will be required and how you will deliver them. Planning and budgeting for training in 2020 will ensure that you have the resources necessary to implement ISO 45001 effectively across your organization in the next year.

5. Ensure your company has appropriate safety processes and procedures

Like the rest of the ISO family of standards, ISO 45001 is a process-based standard.

Under ISO 45001, companies are required to develop consistent processes to identify hazards, mitigate risks, investigate and respond to incidents, and prepare for and respond to emergencies — to name a few.

Although you may be doing these things already, a clear and well-documented process is necessary to ensure ISO 45001 conformance. Get a head start by defining which processes you’ll need to have in place and taking note of your current procedures so you can compare them to the requirements set out in the standard.

Next steps

Even though the deadline for ISO 45001 has been extended, it’s never too early to start preparing. Next, learn about the difference between OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001.

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