Wellbeing and ISO 45001? Thoughts From the SHP Expo | SAI Global | Assurance Learning

Wellbeing and ISO 45001? Thoughts From the SHP Expo

The Safety and Health EXPO for 2019 has just finished. I rarely get to attend, but with luck I was already in the area and it was too good an opportunity to pass up. The EXPO has lots of exhibition space with all manner of new software, cutting edge safety equipment with improved innovative designs or totally novel solutions to manage hazards that have been around for ever and a day. It’s refreshing to feel the buzz of like-minded people who are passionate about their part of the health and safety world and makes a change to talk to like-minded people.

New to the EXPO this year was the Workplace and Wellbeing Show featuring a range of different exhibition stands showcasing specialist companies and organisations from nutritional advice, provision of ambient workspaces and lifestyle to the more usual specialist technical occupational hygiene offerings.

If you haven’t been to the EXPO before each area has a “theatre” which is used to feature short presentations with a diversity of relevant topics and speakers and I was especially interested to listen to those relating to wellness/wellbeing.

First off for me in the Leadership theatre was Jonny Wilkinson, one of the keynote and inspirational speakers who told his own story of his struggle to make sense of his life during, and after being such a brilliant rugby player. He was well worth watching and you can read what he had to say in SHP online. Good to know for us mere mortals that even geniuses have problems.

I next watched a great presentation at the Workplace Wellbeing Theatre with real life practical application examples from industry leaders about how they had begun to tackle wellness and wellbeing in their own businesses. All said they were very much a “work in progress” and that provision of resources were “lean”.

In companies, usually, mental health and wellbeing sits in the sphere of Human Resources, yet Safety and Health professionals are being asked to get involved – with some additional changes to titles and responsibilities already happening for some.

Attitudes towards wellness/wellbeing of staff have been slowly changing over the past few years with soldiers coming back from places like Afghanistan and Iraq diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Royal Family – Princes William and Harry talking about mental health issues.

In the world outside of the EXPO, the Health and Safety Executive have begun to focus their attentions on employee wellbeing (and have some handy tools and templates on their website). Check these out if you haven’t already.

How can ISO 45001 support this new field of responsibility for HS practioners and the organisations they work for?

Look closely at the standard. Whilst the scope of the standard does not include wellness and wellbeing explicitly the introduction to ISO 45001 (0.1) explains the standard considers that promoting and protecting physical and mental health to be included in an organisation’s responsibilities. The introduction is not part of the requirements though.

More specifically in ISO 45001’s requirements, clause Hazard identification now requires the organisation to identify hazards around how the work is organised, social factors (including workload, work hours, victimisation, harassment and bullying), leadership and culture all of which should contribute to positive mental health for your workers. Once genuine hazards have been identified they need to be assessed and controlled by the OHSMS as well as opportunities for improvements identified.

Leadership and worker participation underpins the entire system and its outcomes. Uniquely to this standard top management are expected to develop and lead a culture that supports the intended outcomes for ISO 45001, which includes continual improvement of OH&S performance (clause 5.1.). Non-managerial workers have been specifically included to contribute towards guiding the development, application and improvement of the OHS management system in meeting these outcomes.

Continual improvement, a requirement for the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards as well as the ISO 45001 standard is highlighted in clause 10.3, yet ISO 45001 is the only one that specifies what this might look like. One of the requirements is that the OHSMS should be continually improved through the promotion of a culture that supports an OHSMS to increase OHS performance and improving workers’ involvement in OHSMS improvements.

Whilst the above clauses don’t in themselves introduce wellness and wellbeing directly they would certainly support the overall outcomes of having a happier, healthier and more open and engaged workforce.

Wendy Bowman, Senior Consultant.

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