Engaging the entire workforce is critical to the success of any ISO standard, this is especially true for ISO 45001. In developing an occupational health and safety management system, an organization must consider the needs and expectations of all interested parties. Workers, across all levels of an organization represent interested parties. Interested Parties, who have a real and significant stake the Health and Safety performance of the organization.
In March 2018, The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated 2.78 million people are killed annually because of work related accidents and diseases. There are also an additional 374 non-fatal work-related injuries and illnesses annually*
To develop an effective Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) management system, an organization need to involve their workers or employee representatives in the development, planning, implementation, performance evaluation and improvement actions of the management system. Processes should be established, implemented and maintained for consultation and participation of workers at all levels and functions.
To ensure workers participate in the process, organizations must provide the mechanisms, time, training and resources required for their involvement and consultation. Additionally, it is important organizations find and remove impediments or barriers to the participation of its workers and minimize other barriers which cannot be removed. Examples of barriers can be failure to respond to employees’ inputs or suggestions, reprisals/retaliation or their threat, practices which discourage or penalize participation of employees. Organization also need to provide timely access to information to all workers about the OH&S management system which is clear, understandable and relevant.
Placing an emphasize the participation of workers to identify hazards, determine the risks and opportunities and create the actions is needed to eliminate and reduce OH&S risks and engage workers in the process. Engaging workers in the development of an OH&S management system has many positive effects such as;
- Preventing, or reduce undesired effects and ensuring workers are prepare for and can respond to emergency situations.
- Determining the competence requirements of employees, therefore understanding their training needs
- Worker perspective in investigating incidents and nonconformities and determining corrective actions to remove their root cause and deal with the consequences.
Find out more about the release of ISO 45001 in this ISO Update article: What is ISO 45001:2018?