ISO 45001 and COVID-19 – Part Two

When the OHS management system has been designed and implemented for the first time, the activities that have been carried out to meet the requirement have probably been recorded, even if the standard does not deem it necessary. It is time to go back to these notes to evaluate what deviation has occurred in recent months, due to the consequences of COVID-19. In particular, it is possible that the policies, objectives and strategies implemented to achieve them have changed, because undoubtedly a new goal is the organization’s ability to survive the pandemic; this condition, however, will have seriously damaged the ability to pursue one’s objectives, because necessarily the prevention and protection measures that had to be implemented will lead to a reduction in production capacity and a collapse in productivity, at least in the short term.

In the following, information management has shown once again to be a critical aspect in the management of our organizations, to identify the methods for controlling the contagion to be implemented in the organization – therefore from the outside inwards – as well as for make workers aware of the new ways in which to carry out their work, and then internal communication. Risk control measures will probably require the introduction of new apparatus or services, and the modification of premises and equipment and the form of work performance, contracts, tenders, supplies, working hours, including shifts, and other working conditions. All this, ça va sans dire, will change, indeed, it has already changed relations with workers, their perceptions and values and the culture of the organization.

Similarly, as regards external factors, the pandemic condition has already profoundly changed the cultural environment and, perhaps, the market, depending on the characteristics of the various companies and at each of the international, national, regional and local levels they develop their business processes. The economic crisis that we are already perceiving is likely to have as a consequence the distortion of the pre-crisis reference market, with the disappearance of old and the coming to the fore of new partners and competitors, as well as the appearance of new professions, figures in charge of management and control of technical and organizational countermeasures against contagion. All of this will lead to significant changes in key factors and trends for the business sector and in relationships with internal stakeholders and their perceptions and values.

It will also be interesting to update the assessment of requirement 4.2 Understanding the needs and expectations of workers and other interested parties: probably, depending on the size of the organization, its territorial relevance and the one of the partners, new interested parties could be identified as, for example, local health emergency management and transport services, with new needs and expectations to be met.

On the basis of these new considerations, it will be necessary to evaluate the possibility of revising the scope of application of the health and safety management system, to introduce new processes such as, for example, the management of home-work transport. This basis will make it possible to redesign the processes of the management system, to adapt it to the new conditions in which the organization will find itself working: upon confirmation or redefinition of the policy statement, the definition of new roles, responsibilities and authorities for the system management and the new requirements for the exercise of leadership in 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.