The item “6.1 Actions to Address Risks and Opportunities” is essential in any management system and can greatly enhance the results of companies. However, when it comes to operational health and safety, this issue becomes even more vital.
This is because when we deal with 6.1 in OHS, we are talking about reducing accidents, improving working conditions, and even increasing productivity. This results not only in more health for people but also in higher operational profit and lower possibilities of fines, compensations, or absenteeism of the workforce.
Item 6.1 is quite extensive, so we will focus on understanding it in general terms, including the 3 primary aspects contained in 6.1.1 Generalities.
Understanding 6.1 of ISO 45001:2018
In general, this requirement specifies that the organization takes into account its context (4.1), its stakeholders (4.2), and the scope of the management system (4.3) to assess and determine factors that may put people’s health and safety at risk.
All this, of course, with 3 very clear objectives. Let’s see:
a) ensure that the OHS management system can achieve the intended results
From the moment a company implements ISO 45001, various strategic objectives related to OHS are outlined. These objectives, clearly, need to be in tune with the entire strategic planning of the company and its macro indicators.
From this point on, the OHSMS (Occupational Health and Safety Management System) acts to ensure that the workforce has conditions to perform its work, as well as to act in favor of strategic objectives. Thus, any risk to OHS is also a possibility of incidence to the risks of the business itself.
b) prevent or reduce undesirable effects
The undesirable effects are exactly the incidence of threats to processes. This can be accidents or abstention, for example.
Thus, the main objective of risk management, and OHS itself, is to maximize opportunities and reduce or eliminate the incidence of these effects. The more effective the OHSMS is in this sense, the greater the results of the company as a whole and the better the environment for the interested party employee.
c) achieve continuous improvement
Continuous improvement is a general goal of every management system, and here it could not be different. The OHSMS should contain devices in its framework that help to find and implement changes that facilitate the achievement of the intended results.
Taking into account the main objective of ISO 45001, the health and safety of the workforce, we can say that continuously improving is to ensure an increasingly safe and healthy environment for people.
As a result, we will also have improvements in people’s satisfaction levels with their work and, of course, in productivity.
Risks, Hazards, and Legal Requirements
As a specificity of the OHSMS, the requirement 6.1 Actions to Address Risks and Opportunities introduces us to the concept of “hazards.” We will not go into details in this article, but we have complete content about the difference between Risks and Hazards and their relationship with ISO 45001 here on the blog.
In OHS, risks are commonly linked to the existence of sources of hazard, so the standard determines that these sources be mapped and treated in an equivalent and responsible manner. All this, without forgetting that the sources of hazard can offer both risks and opportunities.
In addition, when dealing with OHS, there is also the need to take into consideration laws and regulations pertinent to the niche in which we operate. This means being in accordance with labor legislation, regulatory norms, and a series of other requirements.
These norms and requirements aim to ensure the safety of people, which already meets what the standard preaches. In addition, complying with them can reduce or eliminate fines and sanctions, which increases the organization’s results. Together, these benefits make compliance with these items mandatory. And this is present in sub-item 6.1.3 of ISO 45001:2018.
Action Plans and Documented Information
Concluding the requirement 6.1 Actions to Address Risks and Opportunities, we have the item “6.1.4 Action plans.” In this item, we find some guidelines to support the planning of actions, which, according to the standard, must take into account “best practices, technological options, and financial, operational, and business requirements.”
The standard also points out the need to respect the “hierarchy of controls (see 8.1.2)” and, of course, to carry out the proper effectiveness evaluation of every action executed in the OHSMS. As well as to create actions and contingencies to respond to emergency situations, when relevant.
Although the requirement 6.1 Actions to Address Risks and Opportunities does not mention the need for documented information, it is worth mentioning that such information will be necessary to ensure the smooth progress of the plans. As well as many records are needed to ensure regulatory compliance, such as Occupational Health Certificates (ASOs), for example.
The Vital Importance of Requirement 6.1 Actions to Address Risks and Opportunities in ISO 45001:2018
By understanding the importance of the requirement “6.1 Actions to Address Risks and Opportunities” of ISO 45001:2018, we are one step closer to strengthening the health, safety, and operational efficiency of our companies. Implementing this standard not only promotes a safe work environment but can also generate results and more productivity in the organization.
After all, by correctly mapping and treating risks, you not only protect your employees from possible incidents but also reduce costs with fines, compensations, and absenteeism, ensuring the continuity of operations. Moreover, it is fundamental to understand that this standard goes beyond meeting requirements; it promotes a genuine commitment to people’s safety.
Therefore, always keep in mind that implementing ISO 45001 is an investment for long-term success, as the safety of people is the foundation for the growth and success of any organization. And if you need help, count on QMS Certification in this process!