The organization shall establish, implement and maintain the process(es) needed for the internal and external communications relevant to the OH&S management system, including determining:
- on what it will communicate;
- when to communicate;
- with whom to communicate:
- internally among the various levels and functions of the organization;
- among contractors and visitors to the workplace;
- among other interested parties;
- how to communicate.
The organization shall take into account diversity aspects e.g. gender, language, culture, literacy, disability when considering its communication needs.
The organization shall ensure that the views of external interested parties are considered in
establishing its communication process(es).
When establishing its communication process(es), the organization shall:
- take into account its legal requirements and other requirements;
- ensure that OH&S information to be communicated is consistent with information generated within the OH&S management system, and is reliable.
The organization shall respond to relevant communications on its OH&S management system. The organization shall retain documented information as evidence of its communications, as appropriate.
7.4.2 Internal communication
The organization shall:
a) internally communicate information relevant to the OH&S management system among the various levels and functions of the organization, including changes to the OH&S management system, as appropriate;
b) ensure its communication process(es) enables workers to contribute to continual improvement.
7.4.3 External communication
The organization shall externally communicate information relevant to the OH&S management system, as established by the organization’s communication process(es) and taking into account its legal requirements and other requirements.
As per Annex A (Guidance on the use of ISO 45001:2018 standard) of ISO 45001:2018 standard it further explains
The communication process(es) established by the organization should provide for the gathering, updating and dissemination of information. It should ensure that relevant information is provided, is received and is understandable to all relevant workers and interested parties.
1) Internal and external communications relevant to the OH&S management system
Establishing effective internal and external communication related to Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) is crucial for maintaining a safe and healthy work environment. Here are some key aspects of communication that should be established:
- OH&S Policies and Procedures: Ensure that all employees are aware of OH&S policies, procedures, and guidelines. This information should be regularly updated and easily accessible to all employees.
- Training and Education: Communicate the importance of OH&S through training programs and ongoing education. This includes safety induction for new employees and regular refresher courses.
- Incident Reporting: Establish a clear process for reporting accidents, near misses, and other safety incidents internally. Encourage employees to report these incidents without fear of reprisal.
- Safety Meetings: Conduct regular safety meetings or toolbox talks to discuss current safety issues, share lessons learned, and promote safety awareness.
- Emergency Procedures: Ensure that all employees know the emergency procedures, including evacuation plans, first aid locations, and contacts in case of emergencies.
- Risk Assessment and Hazard Reporting: Encourage employees to report potential hazards and participate in risk assessments. This feedback helps identify and mitigate risks.
- Safety Committees: Establish safety committees or teams to involve employees in the decision-making process regarding safety improvements.
- Health Promotion: Promote health and wellness within the workplace. Encourage healthy lifestyles and provide information on relevant health topics.
- Performance Feedback: Provide feedback to employees regarding their safety performance. Recognize and reward safe behaviors and address unsafe behaviors promptly.
- Regulatory Compliance: Communicate with relevant government agencies and regulatory bodies to ensure compliance with OH&S laws and regulations. This includes reporting incidents as required by law.
- Stakeholder Engagement: Engage with external stakeholders, such as suppliers, contractors, and customers, to ensure that they are aware of and comply with OH&S requirements when interacting with your organization.
- Community Outreach: Maintain open communication with the local community, especially if your organization’s activities could impact the surrounding environment or public safety.
- Industry Collaboration: Participate in industry-specific groups or associations that promote OH&S best practices and share information with peers.
- Media and Public Relations: Be prepared to communicate with the media and the public in case of major safety incidents or emergencies. Designate a spokesperson and have a crisis communication plan in place.
- Contractor and Vendor Communication: When working with contractors or vendors, ensure they are aware of your OH&S expectations and have appropriate safety measures in place.
- Suppliers: Communicate your OH&S requirements to suppliers and request information on the safety practices and quality of products or materials they provide.
- Investor and Shareholder Reporting: If your organization is publicly traded or has investors, communicate relevant OH&S information in your reports and disclosures to provide transparency on safety performance.
Effective communication, both internal and external, is essential for creating a culture of safety, preventing accidents, and demonstrating your organization’s commitment to the well-being of its employees and the community. It helps ensure that everyone involved is informed, engaged, and working together to maintain a safe workplace.
2) The organization shall establish, implement and maintain the processes needed for the internal and external communications relevant to the OH&S management system
In the context of an Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) management system, it’s essential for an organization to establish, implement, and maintain effective processes for both internal and external communication. These processes are critical for ensuring that the OH&S management system functions properly and that relevant information is communicated to all stakeholders. Here’s how an organization can achieve this:
1. Internal Communication Processes:
Internal communication processes are focused on ensuring that everyone within the organization is aware of, understands, and participates in the OH&S management system.
- OH&S Policy and Objectives: Ensure that the OH&S policy and objectives are communicated to all employees, and that employees understand their roles and responsibilities in achieving these objectives.
- Training and Awareness: Develop training programs to educate employees about OH&S hazards, safe work practices, and emergency procedures. Regularly update and refresh this training.
- Incident Reporting: Establish a clear and confidential process for employees to report incidents, near misses, and hazards. Ensure that reports are investigated, and actions are taken to prevent recurrence.
- Safety Meetings and Committees: Hold regular safety meetings or engage safety committees to discuss safety issues, share best practices, and gather input from employees.
- Documentation and Records: Maintain records of safety training, incident reports, and safety meetings to track and manage OH&S performance.
2. External Communication Processes:
External communication processes involve interactions with parties outside the organization, such as regulatory authorities, contractors, suppliers, customers, and the local community.
- Regulatory Compliance: Ensure that the organization complies with all relevant OH&S laws and regulations and communicates with regulatory authorities as required.
- Contractor and Supplier Communication: Establish OH&S requirements for contractors and suppliers, and communicate these requirements clearly. Verify that contractors and suppliers meet these requirements.
- Stakeholder Engagement: Engage with stakeholders, such as local communities or environmental groups, to address their concerns related to OH&S matters and communicate the organization’s commitment to safety.
- Emergency Response: Coordinate with local emergency services and communicate emergency response plans to ensure a timely and effective response to incidents.
- Public Relations: Develop a crisis communication plan to handle media and public inquiries in case of significant incidents. Designate a spokesperson and prepare press releases or statements.
- Reporting and Transparency: Report on OH&S performance to relevant stakeholders, including investors and shareholders, through annual reports, sustainability reports, or other communication channels.
- Community Outreach: Engage in community outreach and education programs to promote safety awareness and demonstrate the organization’s commitment to the well-being of the local community.
- Industry Collaboration: Collaborate with industry peers to share best practices and promote safety standards within the industry.
Remember that effective communication is a dynamic process that requires continuous improvement. Organizations should regularly review their communication processes to ensure that they remain relevant, efficient, and aligned with the goals of the OH&S management system.
3) While establishing the process for internal and external communications relevant to the OH&S management system the organization must determine on what it will communicate; when to communicate; with whom to communicate:how to communicate.
Establishing effective communication processes is crucial for the successful implementation and maintenance of an Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Management System. Here are some key considerations for determining what, when, with whom, and how to communicate within and outside the organization regarding OH&S:
- What to Communicate:
- OH&S Policies and Objectives: Clearly communicate the organization’s OH&S policies, objectives, and targets to all relevant parties.
- Hazards and Risks: Share information about identified hazards, associated risks, and the control measures in place to mitigate those risks.
- Incident Reporting: Establish a procedure for reporting incidents (e.g., accidents, near-misses, illnesses) and communicate it to all employees.
- OH&S Performance: Share data and information related to OH&S performance, such as injury and illness statistics, near-miss reports, and trends.
- Regulatory Changes: Communicate updates to relevant OH&S laws, regulations, and standards that may affect the organization.
- Emergency Procedures: Ensure that employees are aware of and understand emergency procedures, including evacuation plans and first-aid facilities.
- When to Communicate:
- Regular Updates: Provide regular updates on OH&S matters through various channels.
- Incident Reporting: Communicate incidents as soon as they occur and ensure prompt reporting.
- Policy Changes: Notify employees and stakeholders of any changes to OH&S policies, procedures, or objectives.
- With Whom to Communicate:
- Internal Stakeholders: This includes all employees at various levels of the organization, from top management to frontline workers.
- External Stakeholders: This can encompass suppliers, contractors, customers, regulatory authorities, and the local community.
- Consultation and Participation: Involve employees and their representatives in the communication process, especially when making decisions that affect their health and safety.
- How to Communicate:
- Meetings: Hold regular OH&S meetings, including safety committee meetings, toolbox talks, and management reviews.
- Training and Awareness Programs: Conduct training sessions to raise awareness about OH&S policies, procedures, and best practices.
- Email and Intranet: Use email and the organization’s intranet to disseminate important OH&S information.
- Notice Boards: Post OH&S notices and updates on bulletin boards in common areas.
- Reports and Documentation: Use formal reports and documentation to communicate performance data and incident reports.
- Feedback Mechanisms: Establish channels for employees to provide feedback on OH&S concerns or suggestions for improvement.
Remember that effective communication is a two-way process. It’s not just about conveying information but also listening to feedback, concerns, and suggestions from employees and other stakeholders. Regularly review and update your communication processes to ensure they remain effective in supporting your OH&S Management System and its objectives.
4) Organization must communicate internally among the various levels and functions of the organization; among contractors and visitors to the workplace; and among other interested parties;
Effective internal and external communication within an organization regarding Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) is crucial for maintaining a safe workplace and ensuring compliance with OH&S standards. Here’s how communication can be structured among different groups:
- Internal Communication:
- Among Various Levels and Functions:
- Top-down communication: Ensure that senior management communicates OH&S policies, goals, and expectations to all levels of the organization.
- Bottom-up communication: Encourage employees at all levels to report hazards, near-misses, and safety concerns to their supervisors or safety committees.
- Lateral communication: Promote the sharing of best practices and safety information between departments or teams.
- Among Contractors and Visitors to the Workplace:
- Orientation and Training: Before commencing work on-site, contractors and visitors should receive OH&S orientation and training specific to the workplace’s hazards and safety procedures.
- Site-Specific Information: Communicate site-specific risks, emergency procedures, and safety rules to contractors and visitors.
- Visitor Badges or Identification: Implement a system to identify and track visitors while on-site for security and safety purposes.
- Among Various Levels and Functions:
- External Communication:
- Among Other Interested Parties:
- Regulatory Authorities: Ensure compliance with local, regional, and national OH&S regulations by providing necessary documentation and reports to relevant authorities.
- Suppliers and Contractors: Communicate your OH&S requirements and expectations to suppliers and contractors, and request their commitment to safety standards.
- Customers and Clients: Share relevant OH&S information when necessary, especially if your products or services have implications for health and safety.
- Local Community: If your organization’s activities impact the local community, communicate openly about safety measures, incident reporting, and emergency response plans.
- Industry Groups and Associations: Participate in industry-specific OH&S communication and collaboration efforts to stay updated on best practices and standards.
- Among Other Interested Parties:
- Channels of Communication:
- Utilize a variety of communication channels to reach different audiences effectively:
- Intranet and Internal Memos: For internal communications within the organization.
- Safety Meetings and Training Sessions: For engaging employees, contractors, and visitors.
- Reports and Documentation: For sharing performance data, incident reports, and compliance documentation with regulatory authorities and stakeholders.
- Public Relations and Media: In the event of a major incident, work closely with the media and the public to provide accurate and timely information.
- Utilize a variety of communication channels to reach different audiences effectively:
- Feedback Mechanisms:
- Establish mechanisms for receiving feedback from contractors, employees, visitors, and other stakeholders regarding OH&S matters. Encourage the reporting of near-misses and incidents.
- Act on feedback promptly and communicate the actions taken to address safety concerns.
Regular and transparent communication is essential for building a strong safety culture, maintaining compliance, and fostering trust among all stakeholders involved in an organization’s OH&S program.
5) The organization shall take into account diversity aspects e.g. gender, language, culture, literacy, disability when considering its communication needs
Inclusive and considerate communication is crucial when addressing Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) matters within an organization. Taking into account diversity aspects such as gender, language, culture, literacy, and disability ensures that communication is effective and accessible to all employees and stakeholders. Here are some ways to consider diversity aspects in OH&S communication:
- Language and Literacy:
- Recognize that employees may have varying levels of language proficiency and literacy. Use plain language and avoid technical jargon in OH&S communication materials.
- Provide translated materials or multilingual resources if needed, especially in multicultural workplaces.
- Offer training and support for employees with lower literacy levels to ensure they understand OH&S information.
- Cultural Sensitivity:
- Be culturally sensitive in your communication. Consider the cultural backgrounds of your employees and stakeholders.
- Avoid cultural stereotypes and biases in your messaging.
- If applicable, incorporate cultural practices and beliefs into OH&S programs, especially in diverse work environments.
- Gender Sensitivity:
- Recognize that different genders may have unique health and safety needs. Address these differences in your OH&S policies and communication.
- Ensure that safety equipment and facilities are gender-inclusive, and provide appropriate training and resources for all genders.
- Disability Accessibility:
- Make OH&S communication materials accessible to individuals with disabilities. This includes providing information in accessible formats, such as braille, large print, or electronic formats compatible with screen readers.
- Ensure that safety training and emergency procedures are accessible to employees with disabilities.
- Visual and Auditory Impairments:
- Consider employees who have visual or auditory impairments when designing communication materials.
- Use alternative formats, such as audio descriptions or sign language interpreters, during training sessions or presentations.
- Interactive Communication:
- Encourage two-way communication and feedback from all employees, regardless of their background or abilities.
- Provide multiple channels for reporting safety concerns, such as anonymous reporting options.
- Training and Education:
- Tailor training programs to accommodate diverse learning styles and needs.
- Use a mix of visual, auditory, and hands-on training methods to ensure that all employees can participate effectively.
- Inclusivity in Safety Committees:
- Ensure that safety committees or teams include diverse representation, taking into account gender, cultural, and disability diversity.
- Accessibility Assessments:
- Regularly assess the accessibility of your workplace, including entrances, exits, workstations, and emergency evacuation routes, to ensure they are accessible to everyone.
- Regular Reviews and Updates:
- Continuously evaluate the effectiveness of your OH&S communication strategies in addressing diversity aspects. Make improvements as needed.
By considering diversity aspects in OH&S communication, organizations can create a more inclusive and safer work environment where every employee feels valued and informed about their health and safety. This, in turn, contributes to a stronger safety culture and improved OH&S outcomes.
6) The organization shall ensure that the views of external interested parties are considered in establishing its communication process
Incorporating the views and feedback of external interested parties in the development of your Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) communication process is essential for fostering transparency, compliance, and cooperation. Here’s how you can ensure that external interested parties’ perspectives are considered:
- Determine who the external interested parties are in the context of OH&S. These may include regulatory authorities, customers, suppliers, contractors, local communities, industry associations, and neighboring businesses.
- Actively engage with external interested parties to gather their views, needs, and expectations regarding OH&S.
- Seek their input on OH&S policies, procedures, and practices that may impact them or the broader community.
- Conduct surveys, focus groups, or interviews to collect feedback from external stakeholders on OH&S matters.
- Establish a feedback mechanism that allows external parties to report safety concerns or provide suggestions for improvement.
- Consider involving external stakeholders in OH&S committees or advisory groups to ensure their perspectives are represented in decision-making processes.
- Collaborate with suppliers and contractors to align safety standards and expectations.
- Provide regular updates to external interested parties on OH&S performance, incidents, and progress toward OH&S goals and objectives.
- Communicate how their concerns and feedback have been addressed and incorporated into safety measures.
- Ensure that your OH&S communication process complies with relevant regulatory requirements for engaging with external interested parties.
- Keep records of your interactions and communication efforts to demonstrate compliance.
- Collaborate with external interested parties to address shared OH&S challenges and find mutually beneficial solutions.
- Engage in joint initiatives or partnerships that promote safety and well-being in the workplace and the broader community.
- Act on the feedback and input provided by external parties. Use this feedback to improve safety practices, enhance communication processes, and adapt OH&S strategies.
- Regularly review your communication process to assess its effectiveness in incorporating external stakeholders’ views and needs.
- Make adjustments and improvements based on the lessons learned from stakeholder engagement.
- Maintain records of stakeholder engagement activities, including meeting minutes, survey results, and correspondence.
- Report on your engagement efforts and the outcomes in OH&S performance reports or sustainability reports.
Incorporating external interested parties’ views into your OH&S communication process not only helps in meeting compliance requirements but also strengthens relationships, builds trust, and ensures that your organization is responsive to the concerns and expectations of the broader community. It contributes to a more comprehensive and effective OH&S management system.
7) The organization shall respond to relevant communications on its OH&S management system.
Responding to communications regarding an Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Management System is a critical aspect of maintaining transparency, accountability, and trust with internal and external stakeholders. Here are steps on how an organization should respond to relevant communications about its OH&S management system:
- Assign responsibility for managing OH&S communications to a specific individual or team within the organization. This individual or team should be knowledgeable about the OH&S Management System.
- Develop a clear and standardized protocol for responding to OH&S communications. This protocol should outline the steps to be taken and the timeframes for responding.
- Acknowledge the receipt of the communication promptly. This acknowledgment can be automated for routine communications, but for more complex matters or stakeholder concerns, a personalized acknowledgment may be appropriate.
- Evaluate the nature and significance of the communication. Determine whether it relates to an incident, a request for information, a suggestion, a complaint, or other matters related to OH&S.
- Assess the urgency and potential impact of the issue raised.
- Collect all relevant information related to the communication. This may involve consulting internal records, conducting investigations, or seeking input from relevant parties within the organization.
- Develop a well-thought-out response plan based on the nature and importance of the communication. Ensure that the plan includes steps to address any identified OH&S issues or concerns.
- Respond in a timely manner, adhering to any legally required response timeframes, if applicable. Even if there are no legal requirements, aim to respond as promptly as possible to demonstrate commitment to OH&S.
- Be open and transparent in your response. Provide clear, concise, and accurate information regarding the issue or concern raised.
- If the matter involves sensitive or confidential information, explain any limitations on the information that can be shared.
- If the communication raises an OH&S issue or concern, outline the steps the organization will take to address it. This may involve implementing corrective actions, investigations, or preventive measures.
- Keep the communicator informed about the progress of any actions taken to address their concern or issue.
- Request feedback from the communicator to ensure their satisfaction with the resolution or response.
- Maintain records of all OH&S communications and the organization’s responses. These records serve as evidence of compliance and can be used for continuous improvement.
- Periodically review your response processes and communication protocols to identify opportunities for improvement. Ensure that lessons learned from previous communications are integrated into your OH&S Management System.
- Encourage a feedback loop with stakeholders. Ask for suggestions on how the organization can improve its OH&S management and communication processes.
Responding effectively to OH&S communications not only helps address concerns and maintain a safe workplace but also reinforces the organization’s commitment to health and safety. It is a critical element of building trust with employees, contractors, regulatory authorities, and the wider community.
8) When establishing its communication process , the organization shall take into account its legal requirements and other requirements
When establishing its communication process for an Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Management System, the organization must consider its legal requirements and other relevant obligations. This is a fundamental step in ensuring compliance and demonstrating a commitment to safety. Here’s how an organization should take these requirements into account:
- Conduct a thorough review to identify all relevant OH&S laws, regulations, and standards that apply to the organization based on its location, industry, and activities.
- Stay informed about changes in OH&S regulations to ensure ongoing compliance.
- Besides legal requirements, identify any other OH&S obligations or commitments the organization has voluntarily adopted. These might include industry-specific standards, certifications, or customer-specific requirements.
- Ensure that OH&S policies and objectives explicitly reference the legal and other requirements that the organization must adhere to. This demonstrates the organization’s commitment to compliance.
- Develop a communication plan that outlines how the organization will effectively communicate its compliance with legal and other requirements.
- Determine who needs to be informed, what information needs to be communicated, and the frequency of communication.
- Communicate the legal and other requirements to all levels of the organization to ensure everyone is aware of their responsibilities and obligations.
- Establish processes for regularly updating employees on any changes in these requirements and how they affect their work.
- Ensure that relevant external parties, such as regulatory authorities, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders, are aware of the organization’s compliance with legal and other requirements.
- Provide timely and accurate information to these parties when requested or as required by law.
- Maintain comprehensive records of legal and other requirements, as well as the organization’s compliance efforts. This documentation is essential for audits and inspections.
- Train employees and relevant stakeholders on the specific legal and other requirements that pertain to their roles and responsibilities.
- Foster a culture of awareness and vigilance regarding compliance with these requirements.
- Establish processes for monitoring compliance with legal and other requirements and reporting any non-compliance or incidents to the relevant authorities or stakeholders as required by law.
- Periodically review and update the organization’s communication processes to ensure they remain aligned with legal and other requirements.
- Learn from past experiences and use them to enhance compliance efforts and communication.
By taking legal and other requirements into account during the establishment of its OH&S communication process, an organization can help ensure that it not only meets its obligations but also promotes a proactive approach to safety and compliance throughout the organization. This, in turn, contributes to a safer and more responsible work environment.
9) When establishing its communication process , the organization shall ensure that OH&S information to be communicated is consistent with information generated within the OH&S management system, and is reliable
Ensuring that Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) information communicated is reliable and consistent with the information generated within the OH&S management system is essential for maintaining trust, accuracy, and effectiveness in your OH&S communication process. Here’s how an organization can achieve this:
- Implement standardized procedures and formats for collecting, recording, and storing OH&S data and information within the OH&S management system. This ensures consistency in data management.
- Establish processes to validate and verify the accuracy and reliability of OH&S data before it is communicated. This includes regular audits, inspections, and data quality checks.
- Maintain detailed records of OH&S information generated within the management system. This documentation should be up-to-date and easily accessible for reference.
- Ensure that OH&S information is shared among relevant parties within the organization, including different departments and levels of management. Use established communication channels for this purpose.
- Cross-reference information across different sources and databases to identify any discrepancies or inconsistencies. Investigate and rectify these issues promptly.
- Implement a robust document control system to manage OH&S documentation. This system should include version control, revision history, and approvals to maintain the integrity of information.
- Communicate OH&S information in a timely manner, ensuring that it reflects the most current data and findings from the management system.
- Verify that reports and communication materials accurately represent the information generated by the OH&S management system. Ensure that they align with the organization’s policies, objectives, and performance data.
- Be transparent about the sources and methods used to collect OH&S data and information. This transparency builds trust among stakeholders.
- Establish a feedback mechanism that allows stakeholders to raise concerns about the accuracy or reliability of OH&S information. Act on feedback promptly to address any issues.
- Train employees and relevant stakeholders on the importance of accurate and consistent OH&S communication. Ensure that they understand their roles in maintaining data integrity.
- Periodically review the OH&S communication process to identify opportunities for improvement. Ensure that it continues to align with the information generated within the OH&S management system.
- Engage in third-party audits or reviews of your OH&S communication process to gain an independent assessment of its reliability and consistency.
By implementing these measures, an organization can maintain the reliability and consistency of OH&S information communicated both internally and externally. This, in turn, helps in building a culture of trust, ensuring compliance, and promoting effective OH&S management.
10 ) The organization shall retain documented information as evidence of its communications, as appropriate.
Maintaining records of communications relevant to Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) is a fundamental aspect of an effective OH&S management system. These records provide evidence of compliance, track the organization’s OH&S performance, and support accountability. Here are key considerations for keeping records of OH&S communications:
- Records should encompass various types of OH&S communications, including but not limited to:
- OH&S policies, procedures, and guidelines.
- Incident reports, investigations, and corrective actions.
- Safety meeting minutes and attendance.
- Training and education sessions related to OH&S.
- External communications with regulatory authorities, stakeholders, and contractors.
- Complaints, suggestions, and feedback regarding OH&S matters.
- Establish clear retention periods for OH&S communication records based on legal requirements, industry standards, and the organization’s needs. Ensure that records are retained for a sufficient duration to support compliance and historical tracking.
- Store OH&S communication records in a secure and organized manner to prevent loss, damage, or unauthorized access. Make sure that authorized personnel can easily access and retrieve these records when needed.
- Records can be in various formats, including hard copies, electronic documents, email correspondence, meeting minutes, reports, and databases. Use appropriate technology and software for managing electronic records to ensure data integrity and accessibility.
- Implement version control mechanisms for critical OH&S documents and policies to track changes and updates over time.
- Maintain audit trails or logs for electronic records, showing who accessed, modified, or deleted records and when these actions occurred.
- Protect the integrity and security of records to prevent tampering, loss, or unauthorized alterations. Implement access controls and encryption where necessary.
- Ensure that record-keeping practices align with legal and regulatory requirements, including data privacy and retention laws applicable to OH&S records.
- Develop procedures for the proper disposal or destruction of records at the end of their retention period, ensuring compliance with data protection and privacy regulations.
- Regularly back up electronic records to prevent data loss due to technical failures or unforeseen events. Establish disaster recovery procedures to ensure data recovery if needed.
- Maintain records that document actions taken in response to OH&S communications, including the resolution of complaints or the implementation of corrective actions.
- Train relevant personnel on the organization’s record-keeping procedures and the importance of accurate and comprehensive record-keeping for OH&S compliance.
- Conduct periodic reviews and internal audits of record-keeping practices to ensure they remain effective, compliant, and aligned with the organization’s OH&S management system.
Keeping records of OH&S communications not only supports compliance but also enables organizations to track their progress, identify areas for improvement, and demonstrate their commitment to safety to internal and external stakeholders.
11) The organization must internally communicate information relevant to the OH&S management system among the various levels and functions of the organization, including changes to the OH&S management system, as appropriate;
Internal communication is a crucial component of an effective Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Management System. It ensures that relevant OH&S information is disseminated among various levels and functions of the organization, facilitating the sharing of knowledge and promoting a culture of safety. Additionally, it is essential to communicate any changes in the OH&S system to keep everyone informed. Here are key considerations for internal communication in the context of the OH&S Management System:
- Communicate OH&S information clearly and in a timely manner to all levels and functions within the organization.
- Ensure that employees receive relevant information when they need it to make informed decisions and carry out their roles safely.
- Disseminate OH&S policies, objectives, and targets to all employees to create awareness and alignment with organizational goals for safety.
- Notify employees about any changes or updates in the OH&S system promptly. This includes changes in policies, procedures, roles and responsibilities, and safety measures.
- Explain the reasons for changes and how they impact the organization’s OH&S performance and objectives.
- Conduct training and educational programs to ensure that employees understand the OH&S Management System, including its components, requirements, and their roles in its implementation.
- Training should cover both existing practices and any new procedures resulting from system changes.
- Hold regular safety meetings and toolbox talks to discuss OH&S topics, share information, and address safety concerns.
- Encourage open dialogue among employees to promote the reporting of safety issues and the sharing of best practices.
- Establish channels for employees to provide feedback, ask questions, and report safety concerns related to the OH&S system.
- Ensure that feedback is actively encouraged, and responses are provided.
- Involve top management in reviewing OH&S performance and system effectiveness, and communicate the outcomes of these reviews to relevant staff.
- Share information on improvements and action plans resulting from these reviews.
- Maintain documentation of OH&S communications, including meeting minutes, training records, and records of changes made to the OH&S system.
- These records serve as evidence of compliance and can be used for auditing and reporting purposes.
- Encourage employees at all levels to contribute to the improvement of the OH&S Management System by sharing suggestions, observations, and lessons learned.
- Ensure that OH&S communication is consistent across all functions and departments within the organization. Avoid silos of information.
- Establish clear communication protocols for crisis and emergency situations. Ensure that all employees understand their roles in emergency response.
- Tailor communication to meet the diverse needs of employees, including language, literacy levels, and physical abilities.
Effective internal communication in the OH&S Management System helps create a culture of safety, fosters employee engagement, reduces incidents, and ensures that everyone is aware of their responsibilities in maintaining a safe and healthy work environment.
12) The organization must ensure its communication process(es) enables workers to contribute to continual improvement
Empowering workers to contribute to continual improvement is a fundamental principle of an effective Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Management System. To achieve this, the organization should establish a communication process that encourages and facilitates worker involvement in identifying opportunities for improvement, sharing ideas, and actively participating in the enhancement of the OH&S system. Here’s how to ensure that the communication process enables workers to contribute to continual improvement:
- Create a culture of open communication where workers feel comfortable expressing their concerns, sharing observations, and suggesting improvements related to OH&S.
- Ensure that all workers, regardless of their position or role, have a voice in the improvement process.
- Establish formal feedback mechanisms that allow workers to report safety concerns, near-misses, incidents, and potential hazards. Encourage the use of these mechanisms and ensure they are easily accessible.
- Implement suggestion programs or idea boxes where workers can submit their suggestions for improving safety and health in the workplace.
- Recognize and reward valuable contributions to incentivize worker participation.
- Conduct regular safety meetings, toolbox talks, or safety huddles to provide a platform for workers to discuss safety issues, share best practices, and offer suggestions for improvement.
- Encourage workers to actively participate in these meetings and address concerns or questions.
- Establish safety committees that include representatives from different departments and levels of the organization. These committees can be instrumental in driving safety improvements.
- Ensure that safety committee meetings are held regularly, and that the minutes and action items are communicated effectively.
- Provide training to workers on the importance of their role in contributing to OH&S improvement.
- Ensure that workers are aware of their rights and responsibilities when it comes to safety and reporting issues.
- Involve workers in incident investigations and root cause analysis processes. Their firsthand knowledge can provide valuable insights into the causes of incidents and potential corrective actions.
- Promote a culture of continuous improvement where workers are encouraged to seek opportunities for innovation and safety enhancement.
- Emphasize that improvements can come from small changes as well as large-scale initiatives.
- Establish clear communication channels for workers to escalate safety concerns or improvement ideas to the appropriate levels of management or safety personnel.
- Ensure that worker-contributed ideas and suggestions are actively considered, and action plans are developed and implemented where appropriate.
- Provide feedback to workers on the outcomes of their contributions, demonstrating that their input is valued.
- Maintain records of worker contributions, including suggestions, feedback, and improvements made. This documentation can serve as a historical record and evidence of continual improvement efforts.
- Recognize and appreciate workers for their contributions to safety improvements. Acknowledgment can include both formal recognition programs and informal appreciation from supervisors and peers.
By creating a communication process that empowers workers to contribute to continual improvement, organizations can tap into the collective knowledge and experience of their workforce to enhance safety, reduce risks, and create a safer and healthier workplace.
13) The organization shall externally communicate information relevant to the OH&S management system, as established by the organization’s communication process(es) and taking into account its legal requirements and other requirements.
External communication is a critical component of an effective Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Management System. It involves sharing relevant OH&S information with external parties, including regulatory authorities, customers, suppliers, contractors, and other stakeholders. To meet this requirement, organizations should follow a structured communication process that considers legal requirements, other obligations, and the needs of external interested parties. Here’s how an organization can effectively manage external communication related to its OH&S Management System:
- Determine the OH&S information that needs to be communicated externally. This includes information related to OH&S performance, policies, objectives, incident reports, and compliance with legal and other requirements.
- Ensure that external communication adheres to all legal and regulatory requirements related to OH&S reporting and disclosure. Be aware of reporting deadlines and formats mandated by relevant authorities.
- Consider any additional OH&S reporting obligations imposed by industry standards, customer contracts, or voluntary commitments (e.g., sustainability reporting).
- Identify appropriate communication channels for different external parties. These may include formal reports, emails, dedicated portals, websites, or specific regulatory submission mechanisms.
- Communicate OH&S information accurately and transparently, providing a clear and honest representation of your organization’s OH&S performance and efforts.
- Determine the frequency of communication based on the requirements of external parties. Some may require regular updates, while others may need information on an ad-hoc basis.
- Maintain records of all external OH&S communications, including copies of reports, emails, and other forms of correspondence. These records serve as evidence of compliance and transparency.
- Train employees responsible for external communication on the organization’s OH&S policies, objectives, and legal requirements to ensure accurate and consistent messaging.
- Establish mechanisms for external parties to provide feedback or ask questions related to OH&S matters. Ensure that inquiries and concerns are addressed promptly.
- Engage with external stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, and industry associations, to understand their OH&S expectations and requirements. This helps in tailoring communication to their needs.
- Provide external stakeholders with regular reports on OH&S performance, including data on incidents, near-misses, and progress toward OH&S objectives and targets.
- In the event of significant OH&S incidents, communicate transparently with all relevant external parties, including regulatory authorities, customers, and the affected community.
- Establish emergency communication protocols for sharing critical OH&S information during emergency situations, including evacuation plans and emergency response actions.
- Consider aligning external communication with international standards such as ISO 45001 for OH&S management systems to enhance consistency and credibility.
- Regularly review and update the organization’s external communication processes to ensure they remain effective, compliant, and responsive to the changing needs and expectations of external stakeholders.
Effective external communication not only helps organizations meet their legal and regulatory obligations but also enhances transparency, builds trust, and demonstrates a commitment to safety and responsible OH&S management to external parties.
Documented Information required
- OH&S Policy (Documented Information):
- The OH&S policy is a documented statement of the organization’s commitment to OH&S. It should be available and communicated within the organization.
- OH&S Objectives (Documented Information):
- Documented OH&S objectives and targets should be established by the organization. These objectives should be measurable, relevant, and consistent with the OH&S policy.
- Scope of the OH&S Management System (Documented Information):
- The scope of the OH&S management system, including the boundaries and applicability, should be documented.
- Roles, Responsibilities, and Authorities (Documented Information):
- Documented information specifying the roles, responsibilities, and authorities for OH&S within the organization should be established and communicated.
- Communication Procedures (Documented Information):
- Procedures for both internal and external communication related to OH&S should be documented. These procedures should outline how OH&S information is to be communicated and by whom.
- Documented Information about Risks and Opportunities:
- Documented information that addresses risks and opportunities relevant to the OH&S management system should be available. This may include risk assessments, hazard identification, and risk mitigation strategies.
- OH&S Communication Records:
- Records of internal and external communications related to OH&S, including meeting minutes, reports, and emails, should be maintained. These records demonstrate compliance with communication procedures.
- Training and Awareness Records:
- Records of OH&S training and awareness programs, including attendance, content, and outcomes, should be maintained.
- OH&S Objectives and Targets Records:
- Records of OH&S objectives and targets, their establishment, and progress toward achieving them should be documented.
- Incident and Nonconformity Records:
- Records of OH&S incidents, near-misses, accidents, and nonconformities, including their investigation, actions taken, and follow-up, should be maintained.
- Records of Changes in the OH&S Management System:
- Records of any changes made to the OH&S management system, including the reasons for the changes, should be documented.
- Records of OH&S Performance Evaluation:
- Records of OH&S performance evaluations, including monitoring and measurement results, audits, and management reviews, should be maintained.
- Records of Consultation and Participation:
- Records of worker consultation, participation, and feedback related to OH&S should be documented. This includes minutes of safety meetings and feedback on OH&S matters.
- Records of External Communication:
- Records of external communication related to OH&S, such as communication with regulatory authorities or external stakeholders, should be maintained.
Example of procedure for communication related to OH&S
Objective: To establish a systematic approach for communication related to the Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Management System, ensuring that OH&S information is effectively shared both internally and externally.
- Top Management: Responsible for overall leadership and commitment to OH&S communication.
- OH&S Manager: Responsible for overseeing the implementation of this procedure and ensuring compliance with ISO 45001 requirements.
- Department Managers and Supervisors: Responsible for communicating relevant OH&S information to their teams.
- Employees: Responsible for actively participating in OH&S communication and reporting any safety concerns.
- OH&S Communication Planning:
- The OH&S Manager, in consultation with relevant departments and functions, shall develop an OH&S communication plan.
- The communication plan shall identify the objectives, key messages, target audiences, communication channels, and timing for OH&S communication activities.
- The plan should also consider legal and regulatory requirements, as well as the needs and expectations of external interested parties.
- OH&S Policy and Objectives:
- The OH&S policy shall be communicated to all employees during onboarding and whenever updates occur.
- OH&S objectives and targets shall be communicated to relevant employees and departments, emphasizing their roles in achieving these objectives.
- Internal Communication:
- Department managers and supervisors shall ensure that OH&S information is effectively communicated to employees within their respective areas.
- Regular safety meetings, toolbox talks, and departmental briefings shall be used to discuss OH&S topics, share information, and address safety concerns.
- Employees are encouraged to report safety concerns, incidents, or suggestions through established reporting channels.
- External Communication:
- The OH&S Manager shall be responsible for external communication related to OH&S, including communication with regulatory authorities, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders.
- The organization shall comply with legal and regulatory requirements regarding external reporting of OH&S information.
- External stakeholders shall be informed of the organization’s commitment to OH&S and its policies and objectives when deemed necessary.
- Emergency Communication:
- Procedures for emergency communication, including evacuation plans and notification of relevant authorities, shall be established and communicated to all employees.
- Employees should be aware of their roles and responsibilities in emergency communication and response.
- Feedback Mechanisms:
- The organization shall establish and maintain mechanisms for employees and external parties to provide feedback, ask questions, and report OH&S concerns.
- Feedback received should be acknowledged, investigated, and appropriate actions taken as necessary.
- Documentation and Records:
- Records of all OH&S communication activities, including meeting minutes, reports, training records, and external correspondence, shall be maintained and retained as per the organization’s record-keeping procedures.
- Review and Improvement:
- The OH&S Manager shall periodically review the effectiveness of OH&S communication activities and make improvements as necessary.
- Lessons learned from incidents and feedback received should be used to enhance the communication process.