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Integrating the ISO triad: Quality, environment and health & safety

10 August 2023
5-minute read

Thinking of integrating your ISO portfolio? Discover the similarities and differences between ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 from a health and safety perspective with NQA Regional Assessor Claire Harling.

NQA often gets approached by clients with ISO 9001 (Quality) and ISO 14001 (Environment) under their belts, who are intrigued about ISO 45001 (Health & Safety).

Can ISO 45001 be easily integrated with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001? What even is the difference between these ISO standards?

These are a few of the questions we get asked – ones we aim to answer in this blog post today!

But first…

Discover what ISO integration is and how it can transform your organisation here.

Get savvy about workplace safety, including the reasons for and benefits of ISO 45001, here.

Strive for excellence with ISO integration

When it comes to management system integration, certain ISOs take centre stage:

If your organisation already has ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, it can make sense to integrate them with ISO 45001.

After all, you already have a certified management system. With the advent of Annex SL, implementing a health and safety management system that reflects ISO 45001 is the natural next step.

If you already have ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, why not go the extra mile with ISO 45001?

Not always a smooth ride

Before we delve into the similarities and differences between ISO 9001 (Quality), ISO 14001 (Environment) and ISO 45001 (Health & Safety), it's worth remembering this:

Even with a management system already in place (i.e. for ISO 9001 and ISO 14001), the integration process may still encounter hiccups and incidents.

While integration doesn’t come with a smooth-ride guarantee, NQA is here to guide you.

Similar yet different: ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001

Let’s focus on ISO 45001 (Health & Safety) in comparison to ISO 14001 (Environment) and ISO 9001 (Quality).

Similarity vs. difference #1: risk management

ISO 45001 (Health & Safety) – Clause 6.1.2 = Hazard identification and assessment of risks and opportunities

  • Health and safety hazards that may affect the company.

  • Evidence: general and specific risk assessments.

ISO 14001 (Environment) – Clause 6.1.2 = Environmental aspects

  • Company hazards that may impact the environment.

  • Evidence: environmental-focused risk assessments.

ISO 9001 (Quality) – Clause 6.1.2 = Actions to address risks and opportunities

  • Risks to the processes an organisation undertakes.

    • Example 1: manufacturers conduct in-process testing to ensure the final product meets the specification.

    • Example 2: office-based services check that clients receive the service they require and expect.

Risk management is vital, with Clause 6.1.2 in ISO 9001, ISO 45001 and ISO 14001 considering it.

Similarity vs. difference #2: workforce communication

ISO 45001 (Health & Safety) – Clause 5.4 = Consultation and participation of workers

  • Promote worker participation, engagement and communication.

ISO 9001 (Quality) and ISO 14001 (Environment) don’t have an equivalent clause. However, most organisations with ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 have already-established methods of workforce communication (e.g. town hall meetings, weekly team catch-ups and internal audits).

Is your current approach to workforce communication in line with Clause 5.4?

Similarity vs. difference #3: operations

ISO 45001 (Health & Safety) – Clause 8.1 = Operational planning and control

  • Acknowledge the risks in processes and ways to adapt to reduce the risks.

ISO 45001 (Health & Safety) – Clause 8.2 = Emergency preparedness and response

  • Establish a planned response to an emergency situation, detailing:

    • What the organisation will do;

    • How the organisation will do it.

ISO 14001 (Environment) features an identical Clause 8.1 and 8.2 to ISO 45001.

ISO 9001 (Quality) Clause 8 is more complex, with 5 subclauses delving into: 

  • Procurement

  • Process design

  • Systems and/or products

  • Controlling external services (e.g. suppliers)

  • Production controls

  • Product traceability

  • In-process testing and inspection

  • Final product testing and inspection

  • Dispatch

Clause 8 of ISO 45001 is a condensed version of ISO 9001's and focuses more on business continuity.

Similarity vs. difference #4: legal compliance

ISO 45001 (Health & Safety) – Clause 6.1.3 = Determination of legal and other requirements

  • Identify, evaluate, document, determine and monitor the latest health and safety legal requirements.

ISO 14001 (Environment) features an identical Clause 6.1.3 to ISO 45001 but from an environmental perspective.

ISO 9001 (Quality) doesn’t have a dedicated sub-clause. However, Clause 4.1 references issues arising from legal/economic environments impacting the external context.

All 3 ISO standards refer to legal compliance, though ISO 45001 and ISO 14001 are more explicit.

Final thoughts from NQA

There are various similarities and differences between ISO 9001 (Quality), ISO 14001 (Environment) and ISO 45001 (Health & Safety).

Some general observations include:

  • ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 are almost identical in structure;

  • ISO 9001 and ISO 45001 are the most contrasted.

Ready to take the next step?

Assess where your organisation is and where it wants to go with a strategic NQA Gap Analysis.

Take your understanding of ISO integration to new heights with world-class NQA training.

Discover how to get started with integration by speaking to a friendly team member.