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Top 5 takeaways from the Future of ISO 45001 Conference

Billy O'Brien CIOSH

Health & Safety Professional and Director of Customer Success

Effective Software 

Effective Software were delighted and honoured to host The Future of ISO 45001 conference on April 26th in the Hilton, Birmingham. These events are created to provide an opportunity to sit down with peers of health & safety and talk through any new advancements in the industry. With 2016 not seeing the publication of the promised ISO 45001, the long-awaited replacement for the occupational health and safety standard, OHSAS 18001, it was a subject that needed a discussion. Our panel of health and safety professionals sat down in front of a packed room of health and safety professionals and discussed the future of the accreditation.

The overall feedback from the conference was extremely positive. The participation from audience members and panel members alike created valuable insights and shared ideas on the future of ISO 45001. Here are the top 5 takeaways from the conference:

1. Just A Tick Box Exercise

There was a clear concern over whether ISO 45001 will just be a tick-box exercise for organisations. In dealing with prospect clients, some participants thought the accreditation would only benefit in a way to win tenders.

“I think a lot of companies who do have accreditation’s and are already compliant are going to use it as a tick the box exercise. As we deal with some major clients, I feel it will be used as a way to win tenders/business.” Steven Pawley, Group H&S and facilities manager, Wanzl.

“People from the floor had the same opinion that it was a tick the box exercise. It’s another way of auditing firms to make money, then go on a tender list.”  Richard Baker, QHSE, Future Industrial Services.

“Personally, I don’t think we will implement 45001 as we feel as a company I doesn’t concern us. But we have a feeling that our customers will enforce this on us.” Trevor Brown, Senior Health & Safety Manger, McAleer & Rushe.

2. Means For Continuous Improvement

There was an acknowledgement that ISO 45001 will lay foundations for continuous safety improvement and that health and safety management systems will benefit from it.“It will be a very useful tool to help companies with their health and safety management systems.” Helen Jones, Safety, Health and Environmental Assurance Manager, Merlin Housing.

“ISO will be used as a tool to make sure we’re auditing for continuous improvement.” Richard Baker, QHSE, Future Industrial Services.

3. Implementation Uncertainty

There was a common uncertainty as to how much work will be involved to implement the accreditation. For larger companies, there were issues in implementing past ISO standards, so there is a natural concern for the workload that may be involved.

“Such a large amount of work went into implementing 18001 with our company as there is so many divisions and is so diverse. We don’t know whether it is going to be too difficult to implement.” Steven Pawley, Group H&S and facilities manager, Wanzl.

4. Do We All Need It?

A common theme that came from the conference was the overall uncertainty around the standard and whether certain companies should be worrying about it. For instance, some people agreed that the standard is not suitable for SME’s, due to its complexity.

“As with all of the ISO’s, it will potentially be harder to implement for smaller businesses.” Richard Baker, QHSE, Future Industrial Services.

“I still think it is quite detailed and complicated and may not be suitable for SME’s and would be much more preferred to large organisations.” Helen Jones, Safety, Health and Environmental Assurance Manager, Merlin Housing

“What I took away from the conference was that there is still a lot of uncertainty and debate going on, even from the standards body.” Alan Lyon, Client Services Director, ITM Communications

5. Are Some Standards Too Far?

The aim of these standards is to avoid the “one-size fits all” problem by allowing organisations the flexibility to adapt their management systems but there is still a large amount of concerns surrounding over-standardising in a diverse business landscape. Some companies, especially smaller companies can have adoption issues.

Despite the flaws of standardisation, I loved Helen’s (Helen Jones, Merlin Housing) enthusiasm for making standards work for her organisation as a real means of improving safety” Bridget Leathley, CMIOSH, Freelance Health and Safety Consultant.

Click here to download your free ISO 45001 Whitepaper 

Contributor: Billy O'Brien is a Health & Safety Professional and Director of Customer Success at Effective Software. Effective Software can help you with the management of your organisations Risk Assessments and Method Statements please do get in touch for more information.