Home / What is ISO 45001 and how is it a strategic business investment?

What is ISO 45001 and how is it a strategic business investment?

Mar 11 2024


Every year, 2.3 million people worldwide die because of accidents or illnesses linked to their jobs; that’s more than 6000 deaths each day (ILO). 

The impact of occupational injuries and diseases is profound, affecting not only employers through early retirements, staff absences and rising insurance premiums but also the wider economy. 

In response to this global challenge, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed ISO 45001 2018. Learn what this critical standard means for enhancing workplace safety and health management systems and how it can benefit your business.  

We cover: 


What is ISO 45001?  

ISO 45001 is the go-to global standard for occupational health and safety (OH&S) management systems. Think of it as a blueprint that helps organisations ramp up safety, dial down risks and boost the overall health and wellbeing of everyone at work. 

Digging into ISO 45001’s meaning, it’s a tool that supports any sized business in any industry to create a safer, healthier environment for their people. Launched in March 2018, ISO 45001: 2018 was a major leap towards getting businesses worldwide to speak the same language when it comes to health and safety at work.


The 10 clauses of ISO 45001 

The ISO 45001 standard is structured into 10 clauses that outline the requirements for an OH&S management system. These clauses provide a comprehensive framework for organisations to follow, ensuring a systematic approach to improving workplace safety and health.  

Here’s a brief overview of each clause: 

  1. Scope: defines standard’s applicability for improving occupational health and safety.
  2. Normative references: lists essential documents for ISO 45001 application and consistency.
  3. Terms and definitions: clarifies key terms for a common understanding across the standard.
  4. Context of the organisation: identifies internal and external factors affecting OH&S management system effectiveness.
  5. Leadership and worker participation: stresses management commitment and worker involvement in the OH&S system.
  6. Planning: involves risk assessment, setting objectives and planning for OH&S.
  7. Support: identifies resources, competencies and support needed for OH&S management.
  8. Operation: addresses operational planning, control, and emergency response for OH&S.
  9. Performance evaluation: involves monitoring, measuring, and evaluating OH&S management system performance through regular audits.
  10. Improvement: focuses on continuous improvement and corrective actions for OH&S performance. 

These clauses are all connected and work best when you see them as a whole picture for keeping workplaces healthy and safe. By following these steps, organisations can put together a strong safety system that cuts down on risks and makes a better, healthier place for everyone to work. 


What to consider if you’re thinking of adopting ISO 45001 

Thinking about getting the ISO 45001 certification? You’re taking a significant step towards making your workplace safer and healthier for everyone involved. Here’s what to keep in mind: 

  1. Success starts at the top. You need strong support and commitment from your organisation’s leadership to drive the changes and culture shift required for ISO 45001.
  2. This journey includes everyone. Getting your workers involved not only enriches the process with their insights but also boosts their buy-in and participation in the system.
  3. Understand what ISO 45001 asks for. Understanding the standard in detail will help you tailor your approach to meet these requirements effectively.
  4. Evaluate your existing health and safety practices. Knowing where you stand helps you identify gaps and plan your route to compliance more efficiently.
  5. Consider team training requirements. They need to not just understand ISO 45001 but also put it into practice and keep it running smoothly. Make sure you have the resources and support in place.
  6. Embrace ISO 45001 as more than just a badge. It’s about continuously enhancing workplace safety. Stay committed to regularly assessing, adjusting, and refining your practices. 
  7. Consider bringing in experts to significantly boost your efforts. From training and gap analysis to system implementation, external consultants can offer crucial insights and support.
  8. Understand what the certification process involves. This includes the costs, time and steps you’ll need to take.  

Note: Not all certification providers offer the same level of service. It’s advisable to engage with reputable UKAS registered certification bodies that possess a deep understanding and knowledge of their industry. Ensuring that the implementation of a management system based on ISO 45001 adds value to your business, rather than being merely a paperwork exercise, is essential. 

Having an ISO 45001 certification is a clear sign that you’re serious about creating a safe and healthy workplace. It’s a journey worth taking, with plenty of rewards on the table.  


How does ISO 45001 improve your business’s safety? 

Adopting ISO 45001 is integrating safety into every part of your work life. This means identifying hazards before they become problems, like spotting a spill before it causes a slip, or recognising the need for ergonomic workstations to prevent long-term injuries. It involves everyone, from the CEO committing to safety as a core value, to employees feeling empowered to voice concerns and suggestions. 

You’re building a culture where safety is lived and breathed, significantly reducing accidents and boosting overall morale. A school, for example, could see fewer playground accidents with updated equipment and safety protocols. Similarly, a consulting firm might notice a decline in work-related stress and physical discomfort by adopting flexible schedules and ergonomic workspaces. 


ISO 45001’s impact on your bottom line  

An ISO 45001 certification can boost your business commercially by reducing costs linked to workplace accidents and improving productivity through a healthier work environment. It enhances your reputation, offering a competitive edge and helping comply with regulations, reducing risks. This standard attracts and retains top talent, significantly contributing to your bottom line by making your business more resilient, efficient, and attractive to stakeholders.


Samsung creates a culture of safety and productivity  

Let’s explore Samsung’s journey toward enhancing workplace health and safety. Samsung SDI, the company’s battery and storage system arm, prioritised worker wellbeing by adopting ISO 45001. 

The challenge involved upgrading from an older safety standard to ISO 45001, enhancing safety integration with the company’s overall management systems. This strategy aimed to maintain Samsung SDI’s high safety standards while also streamlining operations across the company. 

Achieving ISO 45001 certification facilitated a cohesive strategy that combined quality, energy and environmental management standards. The outcomes included a stronger safety culture, increased productivity, improved system integration, and a stellar safety reputation both locally and globally, alongside a commitment to ongoing enhancement. 

The company achieved zero in-house partner injuries from accidents in 2022 and received high marks on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and Morgan Stanley Capital International ESG score. 

This shows a committed approach to adopting ISO 45001 can lead to substantial benefits. It’s about building a culture of safety and health that can elevate your company’s reputation and give you a competitive edge.


ISO 45001 isn’t just a standard 

It’s a strategic investment in your business’s future, enhancing safety and operational efficiency. Embracing it means joining leading companies like Samsung in prioritising workplace health and reaping the benefits.  

Ready to elevate your safety culture and gain a competitive edge? Let us help you identify and fill the gaps in your health and safety protocols, including those related to ISO 45001. The next step is yours – reach out to us.