ISO 45001 requires OH&S Risk Management and not Risk-based Thinking

Little man - RiskUnlike ISO 9001 the new standard requires in Clause 6.1 the application of Risk Management Methods

The sub-clause titles  spells it out for you ...

  • 6.1.1 Actions to address risks and opportunities - general
  • Hazard identification (workplace) 
  • Assessment of OH&S risks and other risks to the OH&S management system
  • Assessment of OH&S opportunities and other opportunities to the OH&S management system 
  • 6.1.3 legal requirements and other requirements 
  • 6.1.4 Planning Action 

The question then is: what tools and methods can be used to effectively assess workplace hazards and guide us towards effective actions to control them?  Below are some answers ...

Risk Assessment Tools and Methodologies for OH&S Management Systems

A useful review of risk assessment tools and methods was included in OHSAS 18001. We’ve updated it.  A word of warning: in using these tools: there is a tendency not to regularly review and update them.  This is a serious mistake as the initial use is frequently based largely on expert opinion whereas reviews and updates are based on outcomes and measurements – facts.




Checklists/ Questionnaires

Easy to use

Use can prevent "missing something" in initial evaluations

Often limited to yes/no answers

Only as good as the checklist used - it may not consider unique situations

Risk Matrices

Relatively easy to use

Provides visual representation

Doesn't require use of numbers

Only 2-dimensional - can't consider multiple factors impacting risk

Pre-determined answer may not be appropriate to the situation

Ranking / Voting Tables

Relatively easy to use

Good for capturing expert opinion

Allows for consideration of multiple risk factors (e.g. severity, probability, detectability, data uncertainty)

Requires use of numbers

If the quality of the data is not good, the results will be poor

Can result in comparison of incomparable risks

Failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA);

Hazard and operability studies (HAZOP)

Good for detailed analysis of processes

Allows input of technical data

Needs expertise to use

Needs numerical data to input into analysis

Takes resources (time & money)

Better for risks associated with equipment than those associated with human factors

Exposure Assessment Strategy

Good for analysis of data associated with hazardous materials and environments

A fundamental activity if consistency of approach and realistic evaluation of risk is to be achieved

Needs expertise to use

Needs numerical data to input

Often requires use of workplace monitoring and measuring equipment

Computer Modelling

If you have the data, computer modelling can give good answers

Best for larger workplaces where enough data is more likely available

Generally, uses numerical inputs and is less subjective

Significant time and money needed to develop and validate

Potential for over-reliance on the results, without questioning their validity


Applying the Tools

For an effective site-wide OH&S Risk Assessment a combination of these tools is needed.  For example, in assessing human workplace activities checklists are often best; while FMEAs are frequently chosen for the assessment of workplace processes (where the assessment is focused in a step-by-step manner on the activities that go to make up the process).

For more information ...

Our ISO 45001 Lead Implementer Course and  our ISO 45001 Transition Training both include Risk Management Tools in their ISO 45001 Documentation Toolkit.

And for an overview of the eight training courses we offer regarding OH&S Management click here.

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Written by Dr John FitzGerald

Director and founder of deGRANDSON Global. After 15 years in manufacturing industry John has spent the past 25 years training, consulting and auditing ISO 9001 and other management systems. 'Our objective is to be a world-class provider of e-training using the best proven technology so to satisfy and, hopefully, delight all of our Learners. Great commercial success and professional esteem will surely follow.' Full profile:
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