ISO 45001 – Clause 4.2 Understanding the Needs and Expectations of Workers and other Interested Parties
The Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) of ISO 45001, the Occupational Health and Safety Management System standard was published in late November with the final version to be published in February/March 2018. The final standard will be published with only very minor changes to the FDIS version. This is the second in a series of blogs, in which we will describe what the implementing company must do in order to meet the requirement of the draft standard. We will look at clause 4.2: Understanding the needs and expectations of workers and other interested parties.
Clause 4.2: Understanding the needs and expectations of workers and other interested parties
Clause 4.1 requires the organization to understand the internal and external issues that can impact in a positive or negative manner on its health and safety performance including, inter alia, organizational culture and structure, and the external environment including cultural, social, political, legal, financial, technological, economic, market competition and natural factors of significance to its performance.
Consideration of the above will aid the identification of interested parties and their needs and expectations. ISO 45001 defines an interested party or stakeholder as “a person or organization that can affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision or activity”.
ISO 45001 requires the organization to determine:
- The other interested parties, in addition to workers, that are relevant to the OH&S management system
- The relevant needs and expectations or requirements of workers and other interested parties
- Which or these needs and expectations are or could become legal and/or other requirements
Interested parties in addition to workers can include:
- Legal and regulatory authorities such as the Health and Safety Authority HSA/Health and Safety Executive HSE; European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
- Owners, shareholders, parent company
- Suppliers, contractors and subcontractors
- Workers’ representatives such as safety representatives/safety councils/health and safety committee
- Trade unions and employers’ organizations
- Local community and neighbours of the organization
- The general public
- Medical and emergency services
- The media
- Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
- Occupational health and safety organizations such as IOSH
- Occupational safety and health-care professionals
Some needs and expectations are mandatory because they have been incorporated into laws and regulations. For example, the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Chemical Agents) Regulations 2001 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) require the organization, if applicable, to ensure that the exposure of employees and other persons to hazardous substances is either prevented or adequately controlled. The organization must assess the risks posed by the hazardous substances to decide what precautions are needed to prevent or adequately control exposure. It must also ensure that the control measures are used and maintained. If necessary, exposure of employees to hazardous substances should be monitored and appropriate medical surveillance should be carried out. Plans and procedures should be prepared to deal with accidents and incidents that involve hazardous substances. Employees should be properly informed, trained and supervised.
The organization may also decide to voluntarily agree to, or adopt, other needs and expectations such as subscribing to a voluntary initiative. Once the organization adopts these needs and expectations they are addressed when planning and establishing the OH&S management system.
Employees indubitably constitute the organization’s most significant interested party, whose needs and expectations must be identified and addressed. The organization should seek out their views on health and safety concerns regarding work activities, products or services. It should follow up on inquiries, requests, complaints or suggestions made by employees to learn more about their expectations. The health and safety committee is an excellent forum for the gathering and evaluation of workers’ concerns.
The organizations should take the time to understand the relevant interested parties’ needs and expectations and determine the ones that are relevant to the OH&S management system and should be addressed.