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What is a Process Approach?

ISO standards promote the use of a process-oriented approach. The process approach is the elemental core of ISO’s view of a Management System. Therefore, an OH&S can be thought of as a single large process that avails many inputs to generate many outputs.

The process approach to managing an organization considers the organization as a series of interlinked processes.



What are processes, inputs, and outputs?

Every organization is made up of a series of interacting processes. A process is a set of activities that use resources (people, machines, etc.) to transform inputs into outputs.

The process approach considers the interaction between these processes and the inputs and outputs that tie these processes together. The output of one process becomes the input of another.

In planning the actions to achieve desirable results including the planning for OH&S objectives, activities can be designed to manage and improve the planning process.

  • First, you identify your key processes.
  • Second, you define health and safety criteria for those processes.
  • Third, you decide how OH&S process performance will be measured.
  • Fourth, you document your approach to achieving the desired outputs, as determined by your measurements.
  • Fifth, you evaluate your OH&S performance and continually improve.

Once these are identified, an organization can ensure its processes are effective and efficient.

An example would be the processes involved in Creating a recipe:

  • Buy ingredients
  • Measure ingredients
  • Mix ingredients
  • Bake ingredients
  • etc.

The output of measuring ingredients becomes the input in the mixing process.

The effectiveness of the entire system is determined by the effectiveness of each process and the interactivity of these processes within the system. By establishing objectives and auditing how effectively the processes fulfill those objectives, an organization can determine whether the processes add value. Using the Process Approach while designing and developing an OH&S management system enables this to happen.

A Management System using the process approach can meet all the identified internal or external requirements and result in continual improvement in:

  • The organizations’ overall function- the series of processes
  • Processes – the conversion of inputs into output
  • Results – Products and services resulting from processes
  • OH&S – Removing unacceptable risks for the people supporting the processes
  • Quality – Fulfillment of requirements/objectives
  • Environment – Preventing pollution and waste to improve profitability

The Process Approach enables the organization to meet all identified requirements and deliver continual improvement.

As related to Planning to take action, section 6.1.4 of ISO 45001, this same planning instrument can be used to manage these processes, including an ongoing refinement and update of the plan based on continuous monitoring, as part of the project manager’s responsibility.

See ISO Document: Guidance on the Process Approach for Management Systems


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