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ISO 45001 – Clause 5.1 Leadership & Commitment

ISO Standards

The Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) of ISO 45001, the Occupational Health and Safety Management System standard was published in late November with the final version to be published in February/March 2018. The final standard will be published with only very minor changes to the FDIS version. This is the fifth in a series of blogs, in which we will describe what the implementing company must do in order to meet the requirement of the draft standard. We will look at clause 5: Leadership & worker participation.

ISO 45001 - Leadership

Clause 5: Leadership & worker participation

This clause provides guidance on how the organization provides guidance on how to demonstrate leadership in relation to the OH&S management system and how it ensures adequate worker participation in its development, implementation and improvement.

This clause encompasses the following:

  • Demonstrating leadership and commitment;
  • Developing an OH&S policy;
  • Outlining roles, responsibilities and authorities for the OH&S management system;
  • Defining the processes necessary for consultation and participation of workers.


Clause 5.1: Leadership and commitment

Leadership, commitment and active support from top management are critical for the success of the OH&S management system and for the achievement of its intended outcomes.

Top management establishes an organization’s mission, vision and values, considering its context, the needs and expectations of its relevant interested parties, and business objectives.  These are reflected in its strategic business plans. Top management’s leadership and commitment are vital for the successful implementation of an effective OH&S management system. Therefore, top management must take responsibility for the effectiveness of the organization’s OH&S management system and ensure that its intended outcomes are achieved.

If workers observe top management taking OH&S responsibility seriously this will greatly assist in the establishment of a positive OH&S culture throughout the organization.

Leadership and commitment can be shown by, inter alia:

  • Aligning the OH&S management system with the organization’s business objectives;
  • Ensuring the necessary resources are available;
  • Encouraging workers and other relevant interested parties to get actively involved in improving OH&S performance;
  • Involving everyone in OH&S decision-making that affects them;
  • Promoting open discussion about OH&S matters.

The organization can improve the OH&S culture, by, for example:

  • Providing clear and consistent leadership;
  • Promoting formal and informal involvement of workers;
  • Making sure controls are practical and proportionate to the risks;

Top management should communicate the importance of effective OH&S management and conformance to OH&S management system requirements by direct involvement or through delegation of authority, as appropriate. This communication can be formal or informal.

Top management should support others in the organization in relevant managerial roles so that they in turn can demonstrate leadership in their own area of responsibility. By this means, top management’s leadership and commitment cascades down through the organization. By demonstrating leadership and commitment, top management can direct and support employees of the organization and others doing work on its behalf to achieve the intended outcomes for its OH&S management system.

The organization is in a better position to achieve its OH&S objectives and to identify opportunities for improvement when top management creates a culture that encourages people, at all levels, to actively participate in the OH&S management system.

Health & Safety , ISO 45001 , ISO Standard Update , ISO standards , Occupational Health & Safety
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