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What Emergency Managers Should Know about ISO 45001

This disaster season, emergency managers are sure to have their hands full, with resource constraints only making the job harder. So how to do more with less, especially if you’re responsible for work health and safety, as well? Here’s what emergency managers should know about occupational health and safety standard, ISO 45001.

ISO 45001 picks up where OHSAS 18001 left off

The previous best practice in the field was British standard, OHSAS 18001. OHSAS 18001 codified important safety practices, but it wasn’t without issue.

When ISO 45001 came along, safety practitioners noted some key differences. Compared to OHSAS 18001, ISO 45001 is:

  • Process (not procedure-) based
  • Requires “documented information” rather than documented procedures and records
  • Dynamic in all clauses
  • Focuses on organisational context
  • Considers risks as well as opportunities
  • Requires greater senior management commitment
  • Prescribes a strategic (not reactive) approach to OHS management
  • Inscribes OHS within the larger management of the business
  • Ensures organisations understand relevant internal and external issues
  • Ensures greater coordination with workers, suppliers, subcontractors, clients, and regulators

Download an Introductory Guide to ISO 45001

How ISO 45001 captures emergency management concerns

But that’s not all. Unlike OHSAS 18001, ISO 45001 directly addresses the work safety risk associated with emergency incidents. That means it goes a lot further than the British standard in tackling the risk of emergency situations to the health and wellbeing of employees, customers, and other stakeholders.

If you’ve been calling for more stringent emergency preparedness and response measures at your organisation, you’ll find validation in ISO 45001. What, then, are the precise measures for which it calls?

Foremost, the standard compels safety practitioners to participate actively in all stages of the emergency management lifecycle. That includes consulting with a wider breadth of internal and external stakeholders during an emergency, including emergency managers, emergency response agencies, and the local community.

That’s not all. ISO 45001 also directs organisations to take clear steps to anticipate, prevent, and/or minimise emergency risk. Here are the ones emergency managers should know:

  • Identify and plan for potential emergency situations
  • Integrate emergency exercises into the OHS system
  • Prepare a planned response to emergency situations, e.g., bomb threats, terrorist attacks, active shooter incidents, or natural disasters
  • Periodically test and exercise emergency response capabilities
  • Evaluate and revise emergency preparedness measures, especially after the occurrence of emergency situations
  • Provide relevant information to all members of the organisation regarding their duties and responsibilities during an emergency event
  • Proactively maintain up-to-date contact details of all internal and external stakeholders and procure mass communication tools to be deployed during major emergencies, e.g., earthquakes and storms
  • Provide emergency prevention, preparedness, and response training
  • Communicate information to contractors, visitors, relevant emergency response services, government authorities, and the local community

So, what’s the net? The logical conclusion of these measures (once enacted) is to tie emergency management closer to occupational health and safety in the preservation of health and wellbeing and the minimisation of risk.

Of course, those are only a snippet of the measures ISO 45001 ushers in. To learn more about how the standard can change your safety and emergency operations, download our free Guide to Understanding ISO 45001.

Download an Introductory Guide to ISO 45001