ISO 45001 and COVID-19 part 1

Does an organization that has implemented an OHS management system according to the ISO 45001:2018 standard, needs to learn a lesson from what happened to it, because of the COVID-19 epidemic? Certainly. The decision to adopt a management system is made on a voluntary basis; there are no laws that impose it. Those who have taken this step did so because they intended to undertake a virtuous path, which detaches them from the ground of the minimum regulatory requirements defined for the protection of the psychophysical integrity of the worker, with the aim of accessing a higher level of good practices. And it is certainly a good practice to evaluate what has changed since December 31, 2019, when the World Health Organization collected a statement from the Municipal Health Commission of Wuhan, in the People’s Republic of China, relating to cases of viral pneumonia.

To be precise, the management system should have given itself a process for controlling the change, even if the requirement 4.1.3 foresees the need to keep under control the planned changes, temporary and permanent, which have an impact on the performance of the OSH. in terms of organization and working conditions, however, there remains a need to re-examine the consequences of involuntary changes.

We are therefore in the situation in which our organizations have had to take countermeasures in a hurry as a result of the epidemic, very often under impromptu instructions, and must now plan a coexistence with the virus that is expected to be long and complicated. How to operate to make the most of the management system? The most powerful tool in this regard is the management review, defined in requirement 9.3 of the standard. This is a step that usually marks the conclusion of a Deming cycle and the start of a new one, but nothing prevents it from being used for a new planning of activities, as a consequence of an epochal event such as the one we are experiencing.

In this case, the main topic to be evaluated is listed under letter b) of the content list of a typical management review: changes in internal and external factors that are relevant to the management system for OSH. And then we return to requirement 4: the context of the organization.

Author: Antonio Pedna

Independent QHSE Manager & Adviser | Master of Architecture and Construction Engineering | TechIOSH

I am a specialist in QHSE in large construction sites with over 20 years of experience in the building business.

Based between Izmir, Turkey and Milan, Italy, I work in the world of large infrastructure projects in Italy, Africa and Middle East, a highly competitive environment, where the attention to technical detail, organization, management and reporting is taken to extremes.

I’m chartered Architect, Master of Architecture and Construction Engineering, Technical Member IOSH (TechIOSH), I achieved the NEBOSH International General Certificate in Health and Safety (NEBOSH IGC) and I’m qualified Safety Manager and Safety Coordinator (RSPP, CSP/CSE according to the Italian regulations) and qualified lead/third part auditor for management systems.