ISO 45001:2018, the Occupational Health and Safety Management System standard was published in early March 2018. This is the seventeenth in a series of blogs, in which we describe what the implementing company must do in order to meet the requirement of the standard. We will now look at clause 7.4: Communication.
ISO 45001 Clause 7.4: Communication
Clause 7.4.1: General
The organisation must establish, implement and maintain a process or processes for internal and external communications relevant to the OH&S management system, which provides for the gathering, updating and dissemination of information and which encompasses the following:
- What topics to communicate on;
- When to communicate;
- With whom to communicate (e.g. internally within the organisation and/or externally with contractors, visitors and other interested parties);
- How to communicate.
Communications should be appropriate, comprehensible and intelligible for the audience at which it is aimed and take into account diversity aspects such as gender, language, culture, literacy and disability. The organisation should also take into account legal and other requirements and ensure that the information to be communicated is consistent with information generated within the OH&S management system and is reliable.
Information transmitted by internal or external communications, of interest to relevant interested parties, must be available when required.
The organisation must retain documented information as evidence of its communications, as appropriate.
Clause 7.4.2: Internal communication
It is critically importance to effectively communicate information about OH&S risks and the OH&S management system, including changes to the OH&SMS, at various levels and between various functions of the organisation.
This should include information relating to:
- Management’s commitment to the OH&S management system;
- The identification of hazards and risks;
- OH&S objectives and programmes to achieve them;
- Incident investigation;
- Progress in eliminating hazards and associated OH&S risks;
- Operational changes that might impact the OH&S management system;
- Progress with consultation and participation of workers;
Clause 7.4.3: External communication
The organisation should have a process in place for receiving, documenting and responding to relevant communications from external interested parties, where appropriate. Paramount to this is the development and maintenance of a process for communicating with contractors and other visitors to the workplace. The extent of this communication should be related to the OH&S risks faced by these parties and will be further considered in clause 184.108.40.206 of the standard.
Service level agreements (SLAs), contracts and pre-project OH&S planning meetings are often used to communicate on OH&S issues to external providers such as contractors, but the organisation should also use methods such as on-site induction to raise OH&S awareness amongst contractors’ workers.
In addition to communicating about specific OH&S requirements relating to on-site and off-site activities, the following should also be taken into account when communicating with external providers, particularly contractors:
- Information about a contractor’s OH&S management system;
- Legal and other requirements that impact on the method or extent of communication;
- Previous OH&S performance and history of notifiable incidents;
- The use of multiple contractors at the workplace;
- Emergency response;
- The need for alignment of the contractor’s OH&S practices with those of the organisation and other contractors at the workplace;
- The need for additional consultation and/or contractual provisions relating to high-risk tasks;
- Reporting of OH&S performance, incidents, nonconformities and corrective actions;
- Arrangements for regular communications.
For visitors such as delivery companies, clients, members of the general public and service providers specific OH&S information needs to be communicated as follows:
- OH&S requirements relevant to their visit;
- Evacuation procedures and responses to alarms;
- Traffic controls;
- Access controls and escort function;
- Details relating to the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE).
External communication processes often include the identification of designated contact personnel from within the organisation. This allows for appropriate information to be communicated in a timely and consistent manner. This can be especially important in emergency situations where regular updates are required to be delivered in a clear and unambiguous manner.