Annex SL, the standard for standards


  • Annex SL (the old ISO Guide 83) has been approved as the new format for all ISO standards to comply with. Therefore the ISO standards are all receiving a new facelift. It started with the ISO22301 Business Continuity Management standard being launched in the new format in 2012.

The changes this time is substantial. The Annex SL document is here to stay and has already been accepted – it is neither a suggestion document nor a draft.

Integration of Management System now easier than ever

The key changes involve an increased clause structure including clause heading and content changes. The same core text to ensure integration of management systems can now be done with ease. Looking into the future, I can see that management system integration skills and experience will be the next frontier for management system experts.

It is also important to note the consequences of removing the management representative appointment from the new standards.

Another big change is that specific documented procedures are no longer a requirement as in the past.

Annex SL - the "standard for standards" will guide management system implementations and integrations well into the future.
Annex SL – the “standard for standards” will guide management system implementations and integrations well into the future.

Annex SL guides the structure of standards

Here are some of these key changes explained more in detail:

1. High Level Structure
All standards will now have the same identical clause numbers and titles. As always the Introduction (1.); Scope (2.) & Normative References (3.) will remain as is. The rest of the clauses will comprise of:

4. Context of the organization
5. Leadership
6. Planning
7. Support
8. Operation
9. Performance evaluation
10. Improvement

2. Identical Core Text
As mentioned above, the first three clause numbers still remain the same with the same intent in the clause content (Introduction through to Normative References).

Clause 4 –  however is completely new and is known as the flagship of the management system. The question being asked is: “Why is the organisation here?”

Clause 5 –  is also new and focuses on “Leadership”. The focus now changes from management to leadership and top management has to have a greater involvement in the management system. The new management systems will have to be integrated into the business management systems.

Clause 6 –  includes the fact that “risk” has now been made explicit in the standard and risks and opportunities needs to be addressed through effective planning.

Clause 7 –  is titled “Support” and looks at providing support to realize the achievement of the management system goals. Here the terms document, documentation and records have been removed and replaced by a requirement to manage documented information.

Clause 8 –  “Operation” is the core of the standard and emphasizes the planning, implementation & controlling of its processes. So whatever is at the heart of the management system will be included here; eg. Emergency preparedness & response; design & development and more.

Clause 9 – “Performance Evaluation” focuses on what has been done/implemented now and needs to be checked/verified for success.

Clause 10 – is new – “Improvement” – and preventive action has been removed. The new management systems will have to prove more so than ever before that continual improvement is taking place.

Annex SL puts greater emphasis on Legal Compliance

3. Other

  • No mention of procedures (documented or otherwise) – if you deem them necessary then you can put them in and motivate your decision during the audit.
  • Greater emphasis on legal compliance.
  • Auditor level of knowledge and skill will have to increase substantially as the focus of the audits is now at boardroom level.
  • Broader scope than just the working environment is addressed – it is now the “environment”.

The ISO9001: 2015 standard is expected to be released in September 2015; ISO14001: 2015 in July 2015 and the replacement for OHSAS18001 – ISO45001 – in October 2016.

Sources: IRCA briefing note – Annex SL

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4 thoughts on “Annex SL, the standard for standards

  1. Thanks for this Christel,

    What I have found interesting is the term competence, and playing the Devils Advocate I submit the following: Reading in context with Draft ISO45001;

    One must however read this in context with the term Competent in terms of the OHS Act, the Constitution and other RSA Labour laws. Reading the above it becomes clear that competence is dynamic, and needs to be re-certificated (if that is the correct word) in-house for some operations and jobs, and if necessary externally for others. What is very interesting is that competence is NOT LIMITED TO THOSE DOING A JOB, but also to the person/s who are MANAGING A FUNCTION or UNDERTAKING A ROLE. So this includes for example, the Construction Manager, Operations Director and even the CEO and MD, as they are accountable / responsible to achieving the outcomes of the OHS management system in terms of ISO 45001.
    So, the question is, how does this get done, by audit by a third party, will he/she state if the findings are “sub-standard” that the MD is not doing his job? Will this ever get to the board? I am sure that the persons on the floor will be evaluated for competence – and in some cases found no longer competent, but will the higher echelon be affected?

    Thanks for the article


    1. Hi Shane – the answer is competence management!!!!! I’ve recently researched this subject in detail and found there are guidelines for establishing a competence management system. Ideally this could be integrated with existing organisational processes and procedures (e.g. HR and training). There is a lot of confusion around competence – but in essence human error can be linked to knowledge or experience which are key components of competence.

  2. Lovely feedback, thank you. A further point to take into consideration is that by ISO standards, competence is viewed as “the ability to apply knowledge and skills to achieve intended results”. This refers to two dimensions only, whereas our legislation, and specifically the Skills Act, refer to three dimensions: knowledge, skills, and experience.
    However you look at it, it applies to ALL personnel working for or on behalf of the organisation, that could influence the ISO management system positively or negatively.
    I believe it starts with an effective recruitment strategy, and effective auditing of this process, and ultimately a way of life in the organisation.
    Auditing many sites weekly, we find the difference between competent people, and competence management of the system, in certain organisations, are so evident that it is actually scary that emphasis on competent employees is not the order of the day!

  3. Thanks for the insert, and I deem this input valuble to competence management. After a quick glance into the new proposed ISO 9001: 2015 changes, it seems that the new revisions are word-playing on a dedicated Management Representitive would not be required to obtain certification, I do understand that it is not a minimum requirement any more. I wonder if Quality Manager /Rep would still have a future in organisations now.
    Can this point be elaborated on, and would this pose a risk to the organisation to hand over the wheel to management to maintain and uphold current and prospective BMS without a dedicated management representitive?

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