Clause 7.4 – Effective Communication in Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OH&S)
The ISO 45001 communication clause underscores the critical significance of proficient communication within an organisation’s Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) management system. It mandates the organisation to create a well-structured communication process that meticulously considers not only its legal obligations but also other pertinent requisites and standards.
This comprehensive approach is a key pillar of ISO 45001’s commitment to ensuring the effectiveness and integrity of OH&S management.
Importance of Effective Communication in an Organisation
Within the OH&S management framework, the organisation is obliged to create a robust communication process facilitating the exchange of pertinent information both internally and externally. This encompasses the transmission of adjustments to the OH&S management system to both internal and external audiences and the facilitation of worker contributions to continuous enhancement via the same communication channels.
Furthermore, a business is encouraged to factor in diverse considerations, such as gender, language, culture, literacy, and disabilities, when determining the specific communication requirements. By accounting for these diverse aspects, the communication process requirement becomes more inclusive and accommodating.
Incorporating external interested parties’ viewpoints is another essential component of establishing an effective communication process. These insights ensure the system aligns with legal mandates and other requirements, and that the OH&S information conveyed is consistent with the data generated within the OH&S management system, ensuring reliability.
Furthermore, the organisation should be responsive to pertinent communications relating to its OH&S management system.
ISO 45001 documents are instrumental in facilitating effective communication within an organization regarding occupational health and safety matters. The retention of documented information serves as tangible evidence of these communications, promoting transparency and accountability within the organisation.
7.4.1 Comprehensive Communication Strategy
An organisation shall establish, implement, and uphold a comprehensive communication strategy to effectively address both internal and external communications within the context of the Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) management system.
This strategy will encompass:
a) The Content of Communication:
Determining what specific information will be communicated, which may encompass safety alerts, hazard notifications, industry safety insights, and the dissemination of newsletters.
b) Timing of Communication:
- Establishing a schedule for communication, including regular monthly updates and timely alerts when urgent matters arise.
c) Recipients of Communication:
- Identifying the recipients of communication, which should encompass various levels and functions within the organisation, contractors, visitors to the workplace, and other relevant stakeholders.
d) Methods of Communication:
- Defining how the communication will be conducted, recognizing that diverse aspects such as gender, language, culture, literacy, and disability should be considered. Utilizing visual aids, such as pictures and diagrams, can enhance the effectiveness of OH&S communications.
Additionally, an organisation should ensure that external interested parties’ perspectives are taken into account when shaping its communication processes. During the establishment of these processes, the organisation shall:
- Consider legal requirements and other applicable standards.
- Ensure that OH&S information communicated aligns with data generated within the OH&S management system, guaranteeing its accuracy and reliability.
An organisation should also respond to pertinent communications concerning its OH&S management system and maintain documented records of these communications where appropriate, such as in Safety Bulletins. These bulletins serve to highlight areas of concern, disseminate essential information, and propose actionable steps for improving safety.
7.4.2 Internal Communication
An organisation shall have the following:
a) Internal Information Dissemination:
- Internally communicate information that pertains to the OH&S management system, ensuring it reaches all levels and functions of the organisation. This includes promptly communicating any changes to the OH&S management system when necessary. It’s essential to devise mechanisms that confirm staff awareness of these changes.
b) Employee Contribution to Improvement:
- The organisation’s communication processes should facilitate and encourage workers to actively contribute to the ongoing improvement of the OH&S management system. This includes outlining the process for improvement and how it is communicated to employees.
7.4.3 External Communication
An organisation shall convey relevant information related to the OH&S management system to external parties as determined by the organisation’s established communication processes while adhering to its legal requirements.
One common practice involves the public display of safety objectives and performance results on the organisation’s website, providing external stakeholders with insights into the company’s commitment to occupational health and safety.
This meticulous approach to communication within the OH&S management system ensures that vital information is effectively shared and contributes to a safer and more informed workplace. It further cements customer trust.
Benefits of Effective Communication within an Organisation
Effective communication within an organisation yields a multitude of compelling benefits, contributing to overall operational excellence.
1) Enhanced Clarity and Understanding:
- Clarity in communication ensures that information is comprehensible to all recipients. This prevents misunderstandings and confusion, fostering a shared understanding that, in turn, enhances collaboration and sound decision-making.
2) Facilitated Collaboration:
- Proficient communication acts as a catalyst for collaboration across various levels and functions of the organisation. It empowers teams to work together seamlessly, share insights, and actively participate in the ongoing process of improvement.
3) Heightened Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S):
- In the realm of OH&S, effective communication is pivotal. It ensures that workers remain informed about the risks they encounter and the precautionary measures necessary for their well-being. By disseminating OH&S information, it cultivates a safety-conscious culture.
4) Engaged Workforce:
- Open, transparent communication channels inspire workforce engagement. When employees feel encouraged to participate and contribute to decision-making, it leads to a more motivated and satisfied workforce.
5) Regulatory Compliance:
- Effective communication guarantees that workers and relevant parties stay well-informed regarding legal obligations and other compliance requirements. This, in turn, aids the organisation in adhering to regulations, mitigating penalties, and avoiding legal entanglements.
6) Enhanced Performance:
- Clear communication pertaining to goals, objectives, and expectations aligns individual and collective efforts toward the realization of desired outcomes. Workers better comprehend their roles and responsibilities, ultimately resulting in heightened performance and increased productivity.
Thus, effective communication is an indispensable driver of a positive workplace environment, safety promotion, collaboration facilitation, and the achievement of organisational objectives.
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