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7.4 Communication

Organizations need to develop and implement a process (i.e., communication strategy) to determine which matters to communicate whilst taking into account its compliance obligations and the quality (reliability and consistency) of the communicated information. Communications may relate to the organization’s ongoing compliance to various obligations, milestone achievements, or sustainable resourcing.

You should seek evidence to confirm that your organization has identified the necessary internal and external communications that are required for the operation of the management. You should confirm how the organization has determined:

  1. What it needs to communicate;
  2. When it will communicate;
  3. With whom it will communicate;
  4. How it will communicate.

The key to successful implementation is often through the involvement of all people within the organization; let everyone in the company know that you have started to introduce a new management system by holding basic awareness sessions for all employees. Make sure you retain records of attendance as this action will contribute towards satisfying the clause.

Communication is the key; communicate goals, plans, progress and milestones. Listen first then ask for feedback. Lack of communication seems to be one of the main root causes for errors in business. Keep people informed of the progress of the project; e.g. what’s been done, what’s to be done next and how the project is progressing against the plan.

Make this process transparent and visible to all concerned; for example, place progress charts on the walls and notice boards. Employees that are not part of the implementation team may not be hearing as much about what is going on with the project and may think the project has faded away. Communicate its progress via newsletters, bulletin boards or meetings.

The organisation needs to ensure that procedures to control internal and external communications and interfaces are in place. Particular care needs to be taken when dealing with communications from external parties, which might well include enforcement authorities, lawyers/solicitors, insurance companies, etc. In many parts of the world there is an increasing trend towards litigation resulting from injuries received in the workplace, so the need to manage the communication process is critical.

7.4.1 Internal Communication

Internally, your organization needs to communicate information relevant to the management system amongst all levels and functions, including information on any change, as appropriate, and have to establish a mechanism to enable all persons performing work under the organization’s control to contribute to continual improvement.

All well as briefing employees during introductory presentations, try using a combination of other methods to promote awareness, such as posters placed on notice boards and leaflets with pay-slips, etc. Use training sessions to inform employees of the plan, how they will be expected to contribute. Issues pertaining to the management system that could be communicated include:

  1. Day-to-day operations and general awareness;
  2. Environmental and health and safety regulatory reporting;
  3. Information on achieving management system objectives and targets;
  4. Incidents, accidents and near misses;
  5. Environmental aspects and health and safety hazards.

Effective communication media:

  1. Verbal (i.e., meetings, briefing, etc.);
  2. Formal memorandums;
  3. Newsletters;
  4. Posters or bulletin boards;
  5. Suggestion box.

Auditors will wish to determine if the policies meet the intent and are understood, by interviewing personnel at all levels. Although the exact content of the policies does not need to be recited by interviewees, the awareness of the policies and how their job affects the company objectives should be determined. This does not require your employees to memorize the policies but it does mean they should be aware of it, know where it may be found and be able to paraphrase, or give an interpretation as it applies to them.

If the personnel interviewed do not know what their measurable objectives are and/or do not know what the organizational objectives are that they have a direct effect upon, the auditor would be further directed to evaluate top management’s communication of the policies and objectives.

Inferred awareness through knowledge of procedures is not considered sufficient; otherwise why have the requirement in the first place? A quick and convenient way to promote and communicate the policy might be to create a shortened version of main policy; try condensing it to five key words or even a couple of short sentences. This can be posted on bulletin boards in each department.

You could even add it to the reverse side of staff security passes or ID badges. If an auditor asks an employee whether they are aware of the policy; they can point to the bulletin board, or point to it on their badge. The employee can further elaborate to the auditor, what the policy means to them and how it influences their work.

Your organization should encourage the two-way flow of information between your workforce and management. Input from employees is considered vital in the development of quality, health, safety and environment policies and procedures. Employee’s input on concerns relating to health and safety and any feedback on how the health and safety management system can be improved are equally as important.

It is also vital that your employees are kept informed of matters relating to their health, safety and welfare via Health and Safety Representatives, Supervisors and Managers. Communication and consultation should take place both formally and informally. Health and safety representatives can be appointed to assist your company with the process.

Health and safety representatives will attend health and safety committee meetings where as part of their duties they will be encouraged to raise health & safety matters on behalf of the employees they represent and also feedback on information and practices relating to health and safety of employees. Inputs to quality, health, safety and environment consultation might include the following:

  1. Identification of hazard and risks;
  2. Management system objectives and targets;
  3. Incident investigations;
  4. Health and safety action plans;
  5. Operational changes affecting health, safety and welfare;
  6. Introduction of new plant and equipment;
  7. Contractors and visitors to site;
  8. Information request from interested parties.

Your organization should also communicate health and safety requirements to its visitors and contractors that attending your sites. Visitors to each site should receive health and safety information relating to the site rules and procedures during signing in. In addition, contractors should be required to go through a contractor’s induction briefing.

7.4.2 External Communication

Externally, your organization needs to communicate as required by its compliance obligations. Additionally, organizations may choose to communicate on other issues, as appropriate. The process has to ensure that all received communications are responded to appropriately.

In most instances, external interested parties (such as consumers, stockholders, neighboring communities, etc.) are the main driving forces for organizations to implement an management system. The appropriate external communications may establish environmental and safety credibility and satisfy stakeholder requests by presenting objective information on the organization’s significant aspects, its management system, or its performance. The various processes or means of external communication may include:

  1. Annual reports or newsletters of performance sent to external stakeholders;
  2. Open house meetings for interested parties and focus groups;
  3. Availability of regulatory submissions, or results of audits;
  4. Policies published in the media and industry association publications and press releases.

The various means of such communication are endless. Such communication may benefit your organization in several ways, including improved employee morale and increased market exposure, either of which can lead to increased profits.
You must first determine whether or not your organization will initiate and establish communication regarding the organization’s significant aspects. You may decide not to communicate such information. The organization’s decision must be recorded to meet the requirement in this section. Your organization should:

  1. Consider processes for external communications of its significant environmental or health and safety issues;
  2. Record its decision on whether it will or will not proceed with external communications.

In most instances, external interested parties (such as consumers, stockholders, neighboring communities, etc.) are the main driving forces for organizations to implement a management system. The appropriate external communications may establish environmental and safety credibility and satisfy stakeholder requests by presenting objective information on the organization’s significant aspects, its management system, or its performance. The various processes or means of external communication may include:

  1. Annual reports or periodic newsletters of environmental performance sent to external stakeholders;
  2. Open house meetings for interested parties;
  3. Availability of regulatory submission of environmental data, or results of audits;
  4. Policy published in the media and industry association publications and press releases;
  5. Focus groups.

The various means of such communication are endless. Such communication may benefit your organization in several ways, including improved employee morale and increased market exposure, either of which can lead to increased profits. The company will communicate with our interested parties through the supply of health, safety and environmental information upon request, e.g.:

  1. Requests from insurers for health, safety and environmental management systems;
  2. Requests from Enforcing Authorities for information on health, safety and environmental performance.

Determine whether your organization has developed and implemented a process (e.g. communication strategy) to determine which management system matters it wishes to communicate - taking into account: risks and opportunities; quality issues (reliability and consistency) of the communicated information. Confirm that the organization has identified the necessary internal and external communications that are required for the operation of the management system.

More information on PDCA

ISO Navigator Pro™ Main menu Quality Management Principles (QMPs) ISO Navigator Main menu
 

Planning

4.1 Understanding Context 5.1 Leadership and Commitment 6.1 Address Risk and Opportunity
4.2 Interested Parties 5.2 Policies 6.2 System Objectives and Planning
4.3 Determining Scope 5.3 Roles, Responsibility and Authority 6.3 Planning for Change
4.4 Management System Processes    
 

Doing

7.1 Resources 8.1 Operational Planning and Control 8.6 Release of Products and Services
7.2 Competence 8.2 Requirements for Products and Services 8.7 Non-conforming Outputs
7.3 Awareness 8.3 Design & Development of Products and Services 8.8 Emergency Preparedness and Response
7.4 Communication 8.4 Control of Externally Provided Products and Services 8.9 Accident and Incident Investigation
7.5 Documented Information 8.5 Product and Service Provision  
 

Checking and acting

9.1 Monitor, Measure, Analyse and Evaluate 10.1 General
9.2 Internal Audit 10.2 Non-Conformity and Corrective Action
9.3 Management Review 10.3 Continual Improvement

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