Leadership and Worker Participation

The terms “leadership” and “top management” are used interchangeably throughout ISO 45001. The responsibilities of leadership and top management include:

  • Take overall responsibility and accountability for worker protection.
  • Ensure the OH&S policy relates to the context and is compatible with the strategic direction of the organization.
  • Integrate the OH&S management system into larger business processes.
  • Provide resources for the OH&S management system.
  • Ensure participation by workers in the OH&S system.
  • Communicate the OH&S system and ensure the organization conforms to it.
  • Promote the OH&S system to address nonconformities and ensure continual improvement.
  • Create a culture that drives the organizational support for the OH&S System

Since top management is responsible for the OH&S system, the elements required to be included in the OH&S management system are detailed within the leadership and worker participation section. The elements include the written commitments for safety; the framework for the OH&S system; obligations to meet legal requirements; continual improvement for OH&S performance; establishment of a risk control strategy; and most importantly; worker involvement. The policy must be documented, communicated with workers, reviewed periodically, and available to other parties. Other key considerations for leadership and worker participation include training, communication, worker participation support, employee engagement, and the establishment of audit programs.

Top management shall demonstrate leadership and commitment with respect to their overall responsibility and accountability for the protection of workers and with respect to the integration of the OH&S Management System processes and requirements into the organization’s business processes. The engagement of top management is essential in order to support the organization through the provision of resources and to promote continual improvement. Furthermore, top management must demonstrate leadership through supporting other management roles in enhancing the OH&S management system, and to ensure continual improvement is achieved by dealing with nonconformities, risks and hazards, and the identification of opportunities for improvement. An important responsibility of the top management is to establish, implement and maintain the OH&S policy, and to ensure that it is communicated within the organization and shared with relevant interested parties.
Consultation and participation of workers
Appropriate involvement of staff in:

  • Hazard identification;
  • Risk assessment and determination of controls;
  • Incident investigation;
  • Development and review of the OH&S policies and objectives;
  • Consultation and representation on OH&S matters;
  • Consultation with contractors, when there are changes that affect their OH&S.

5.1 Leadership and commitment

This clause reminds the user that the organization and top management retain responsibility for the performance of all internal and external performance factors at all times. It, therefore, makes perfect sense that the Occupational Health & Safety Policy and objectives are aligned with each other and with the strategic policies and overall direction of the business, including integration with other business systems, where applicable. Provision must be made for resources to ensure that the OH&S Management System can be operated efficiently, and top management must ensure that the people with responsibility within the OH &S Management System have the correct support, training, and guidance to complete their tasks effectively. Communication is also critical from a leadership perspective, and communication methods and frequencies must be defined and established for both internal and external interested parties. In summary, it is the responsibility of the leadership of the organization to show an enhanced level of leadership, involvement, and co-operation in the operation of the OH&S Management System. The organization must

  • Have more focus to demonstrate leadership and commitment
  • Take overall responsibility and accountability for the protection of workers
  • Ensure the active participation of workers, worker representation using consultation
  • Consider the need to establish H&S committees
  • Identify and removal of barriers to participation
  • Have continual improvement of OH&S
  • Be developing, leading and promoting a culture supporting OH&S

5.2 Occupational Health & Safety Policy

Top management has the responsibility to establish the previously mentioned Occupational Health & Safety Policy, which is appropriate for the organization in terms of the size, scope, activities, and ambitions of the organization, and provides a formal framework for setting objectives. Obviously, the policy should include a commitment to eliminate hazards and reduce risks, to prevent workplace injury, and to consult with workers. Meeting compliance and regulatory factors is clearly another key element, and a method of capturing and recording this must be established. Finally, and vitally, the Occupational Health & Safety Policy must provide a commitment to the continual improvement of the OH&S Management System and its results. Critically, the Occupational Health & Safety Policy must be maintained as documented information, be communicated within the organization, and be available to all interested parties, as appropriate. The Organization must have a

  • OH&S policy set of principles and an overall sense of direction.
  • OH&S policy on consultation with workers at all levels and communicated.
  • Commitment to providing safe and healthy working conditions.
  • Prevention of injury and ill-health.
  • Policy appropriate to the size and context of the organization.
  • Specific nature of it OH&S risk and OH & S opportunities.
  • The mechanism for communication of policy

5.3 Organizational Roles, responsibilities and authorities

The standard states that it is the responsibility of top management to ensure that roles, responsibilities, and authorities are delegated and communicated effectively. The responsibility shall also be assigned to ensure that the OH&S Management System meets the terms of the 45001:2018 standard itself, and that the performance of the OH&S Management System can be reported accurately to top management. The Organization must ensure that

  • Workers at each level assume the responsibility which they have control.
  • The relevant roles have been assigned within OH&S.
  • Organizational roles, responsibilities, and authorities are communicated at all levels within the organization.
  • Organizational roles, responsibilities, and authorities are maintained as documented information

5.4 Consultation and participation of workers

When it comes to the health & safety of workers, it is vital that these same workers are consulted about the OH&S Management System and participate in implementing the processes necessary to secure a safe workplace. To this end, the organization needs to determine the processes necessary to consult with workers at all levels of the organization in all aspects of development, planning, implementation, performance evaluation, and improvement actions of the OH&S Management System. The Organization must:

  • Establish, implement, maintain processes for consultation and participation in developing, planning, evaluation and actions for improvement in OH&S.
  • Provide mechanisms, time, training and resources necessary for participation.
  • Provide timely access to clear, understandable and relevant information on OH&S.
  • Identify and remove obstacles or barriers to participation and minimize those that cannot be removed.
  • Have an additional emphasis on the participation of non-managerial workers in OH&S.
  • Have an additional emphasis on the inclusion of non-managerial workers in consultation.
  • Provide training at no extra cost to workers and provision of training during working hours.