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With the new release of ISO 45001, the internationally recognized standard that replaces OHSAS 18001, we now have a greater assurance of what the requirements for documented information will be. Many people consider documentation to be the hardest step in the process of implementing occupational health & safety management system according to ISO 45001:2018. It isn’t the hardest part, because it can be done in a fairly straightforward way by using a structured approach.

ISO 45001 Documentation Structure

ISO 45001 documents

One of the main reasons why the documentation doesn’t work to the company’s advantage is that the documentation authors don’t have a clear picture of the purpose of each type of document, and where it belongs in the documentation structure. There are several types of ISO 45001 documents used to establish an OH&SMS: ISO 45001 manual, procedures, policy, objectives, work instructions or SOPs, and records and forms. Each of them has its place and role in the OH&SMS. The documentation for an Occupational Health & Safety Management System should be structured as follows:

1. ISO 45001 Manual: A ISO 45001 manual presents information communicated by top management to provide the basis of the OH&S Management System. Since it is a very common document, it is usually the first document that a certification body wants to see to get familiar with the system.

2. Procedures: OH&S procedures can have different formats and structures. Procedures documents will include what actions are to be taken to eliminate or mitigate the risks and leverage the opportunities. It should include title, purpose, scope, responsibilities and authorities, description of activities, and reference to relevant work instructions, SOPs, and records.

3. Work Instruction or SOPs: The most common reason for creating a work instruction is to avoid nonconformities. Work instructions can be part of a procedure, or they can be referenced in a procedure. Generally, work instructions have a similar structure to the procedures and cover the same elements; however, the work instructions include details of activities that need to be realized, focusing on the sequencing of the steps, tools, and methods to be used and required accuracy.

4. Records and Forms: This documentation consists of the records generated as outputs of the planned actions discussed above. Most of these result from the various performance evaluation processes that are undertaken to monitor the system’s performance, such as monitoring and measurement of operational controls, compliance with legal and other requirements, achievement of OH&S objectives, and internal audits, as well as records of incidents, nonconformities, and actions taken.

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