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How we put our necks on the line

Date posted
22 April 2024
Estimated reading time
4 minute read

February saw IOSH achieve a key strategic goal for the first year of its Activate 2028 strategy. Though we say it ourselves, this achievement sets a significant example in the drive towards a safe and healthy world of work.

It’s always nice to win prizes but the story behind the achievement often means so much more. This is surely true of IOSH receiving its Certificate of Registration, this year, having been audited and found to meet the requirements of standard ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety Management System.

The certificate might only be an A4-sized piece of paper but it means IOSH has reached an international standard, usually only achieved by big companies with large resources, when it comes to managing the health, safety and wellbeing of its employees and volunteers.

For a professional membership organisation working to champion the role of occupational safety and health in social sustainability to drive business success, that bit of paper says so much. It shows to the world that IOSH is setting an example in its own workplace.

Of course, there was no little pressure on IOSH when it decided to put itself through the process, especially since it had been on the committee that first developed the new standard back in 2018. Covid may have delayed things but it was a journey IOSH knew it had to embrace as the global voice of the occupational safety and health profession. Physicians never need to be called on to “heal thyself”.

To get a closer insight into exactly what the journey entailed and continues to entail, we went to its two leading lights – Stephen Thomas, Health, Safety and Wellbeing Lead, and Workplace and Facilities Manager Sonia Sherrif.

Leading by example

By the time I joined IOSH in 2018 the decision to go for ISO 45001 certification had already been made. IOSH had been part of the committee that developed the standard and as such, there was a strong appetite for us to demonstrate to our partners, our workers and the profession that we lead by example.

Things went well, and we were gearing up towards Stage 1 certification audit when challenge arrived in the form of Covid-19. Certification activity was paused as IOSH channelled its efforts towards supporting its staff, its membership, and the wider world in response to the pandemic: frustrating, but absolutely the right thing to do at the time.

ISO 45001 certification efforts were resumed following the return to business as usual and the launch of our new Activate 2028 strategy, with activity focused on:

  • re-engaging our leadership and workforce, many of whom were new to the organisation
  • reviewing our processes to ensure they remained relevant to our post-pandemic, hybrid working business model
  • directly supporting higher-risk functions within the business that would likely be a focus of certification audits, including spending time with Sonia Sherriff and our Workplace Services team.

Following Stage 1 and 2 certification audits with auditor Robert Webster-Garvey on behalf of BM Trada, which included three days of auditing on site in January 2024, we were finally awarded certification in February. There was much rejoicing at The Grange as you might expect!

On a personal level, the process has been rewarding as it has given me the chance to work closely with the surprisingly varied departments at IOSH and help to craft a proportionate but robust management system that supports our workers.

Ultimately, achieving ISO 45001 certification provides external validation of what we at IOSH already know: that we effectively manage the safety and health of our workers, and others who are affected by our work.

Under the spotlight

We had to be open and honest about where we were in terms of meeting the ISO 45001 standard. By, firstly, undertaking a gap analysis, before the audit, we could clearly demonstrate compliance in areas like fire management, asbestos and legionella. We also took the opportunity to review risk assessments, COSHH products and data sheets.

As a workplace and facilities team we were very much in the audit’s spotlight, demonstrating compliance, providing evidence, being open and transparent at every point. Having the endorsement that we are a business that is always working to meet the ISO 45001 standard is huge.

Securing the standard is just the start of our journey – it’s now about building on this, continuing to learn and improve. Constant self-checking and analysis got us where we needed to be to reach ISO 45001 – it will most certainly stay with us as we move forward.

Last updated: 29 April 2024

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