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Employees not only expect a healthy and safe workspace, they also perform better when there’s certainty about their occupational health and safety.
How do you get started? ISO 45001 is an deal starting point. This international management standard contains the requirements for a management system that entirely evolves around occupational health and safety (OH&S).
Purchase NBN ISO 45001:2018 from NBN. The standard is available in English, Dutch and French.
ISO 45001 (Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements with guidance for use) helps organisations to create a healthy and safe workspace. In offices, factories, open spaces and other work environments. The standard replaces the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001, the British standard for OH&S that was internationally used. There is a transition period until March 2021. Organisations that possess an OHSAS certificate have until then to make the switch to ISO 45001. After March 2021, OHSAS 18001 certificates will be invalid.
ISO 45001 and VCA (Safety, Health and Environment Checklist for Contractors) have the same objective: a healthy and safe workplace. Even more, you can get certified for both and thus make a statement towards your employees and the outside world, but should you go for ISO 45001 or VCA? That depends on your needs and wishes.
The main difference is that VCA has a more practical point of view. Hence the word ‘checklist’ in its name. For example, VCA pays a lot of attention to concrete aids and how you apply them. ISO 45001 gives you more freedom in ‘how’ you organise occupational health and safety. The management standard mainly focuses on ‘what’ you need to get in place, on both strategic and operational levels. For every part of your management system there is a set of requirements. You then decide which means and resources you use to comply with the requirements.
VCA has more than earned its merits over the years, but it also has an intrinsic limitation: it’s a stand-alone checklist. With the arrival of ISO 45001 you can now integrate your occupational health and safety procedures in a wider management system. Extra bonus: if you already use ISO 9001 (quality management), ISO 14001 (environmental management) or a different management standard, you save yourself a lot of time. Not only the type of requirements and the continuous improvement cycle will feel familiar, you could also combine audits in case you’d like to get certified.
Choosing between VCA and ISO 45001 also has a geographical argument to it. VCA only serves to add value in Belgium, the Netherlands and certain parts of France and Germany. If you operate in various countries, you’re better off focusing on ISO 45001. That international standard is recognised from Australia to Canada.
Our advice: do you know what you’re doing, but need a practical checklist to get results, go for VCA. Do you want to systematically improve your OH&S and give it a strategic place in your (international) organisation, stick with ISO 45001.
ISO 45001 is – just as tens of other ISO management standards – elaborated with the High-Level Structure (HLS). In short, this means that all management standards have a uniform basic structure and similar requirements. Your benefit: you can easily combine several management standards into one management system. For example, occupational health and safety goes well with quality management (ISO 9001) and environmental management (ISO 14001).
Hendrik Decroos is a representant for Belgium and NBN in the international workgroup that revises the HLS. In this testimonial he explains why the HLS is such a blessing for organisations looking to integrate various management standards into their operations.
More concretely, the HLS means that ISO 45001 contains these 10 chapters:
The biggest advantages of a management system based on ISO 45001 :
ISO 45001, the international standard for occupational health and safety, only exists since 2018, but according to the latest ISO Survey (end 2018) worldwide 11.952 organisations have a certificate for ISO 45001, of which 46 in Belgium.
Careful: certification for ISO 45001 is – just as the implementation of the standard itself – voluntary.
Although certification is not mandatory, it does give you a lot of benefits. These are the 5 biggest benefits of an ISO 45001 certificate:
Although ISO and NBN facilitate the development of standards, these organisations are not involved in the certification process. In other words, you can never be certified by ISO or NBN. That is the job of independent certification institutions after a positive evaluation.
In Belgium, there are a number of institutions that issue ISO 45001 certificates after you successfully pass an audit. However, not all of them are accredited by BELAC, the Belgian accreditation institution. This is not mandatory, but an accredited certification institution does offer you more certainty of a thorough audit process. Why? Accreditation is a proof of technical competence, independency and impartiality.
Do you plan on getting your OH&S management system certified? These steps will help you get a positive evaluation:
How long it takes you to complete this roadmap depends on the size, complexity and maturity of your organisation. Some do it in 6 months, while others need 3 or more years.
The costs depend on many factors. Do you implement the management system yourself or do you call in the help of external service providers? Moreover, the size and complexity of your organisation play a big part. In any case, you need to appoint a certification institution to conduct the audits. Normally, you sign a 3-year contract with one of them – the validity period of a certificate.
An independent certification institution evaluates if your management system complies with all the requirements in ISO 45001.
Three months after the full implementation of the management standard, you can initiate the certification process and plan an audit. That audit will, depending on the size of your organisation, take 1 or more days. Are your departments spread over various locations? Remember the auditor will need to visit all relevant facilities.
The initial certification audit consists of 2 phases:
After the audit, the certification institution decides if you implemented the requirements in ISO 45001 correctly. These are the possible outcomes:
These 4 tips increase your chances of success:
NBN organises training courses and learning pathways at central locations or on-site at your office. It does so with this tailor-made programme:
In this course calendar you’ll find all possible dates. Not sure which course best suits your needs? On the overview page for ISO 45001 courses we gladly think along with you.
Purchase the standard in the NBN e-shop. That way, you immediately get an overview of all requirements for an effective management system for occupational health and safety.
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