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What Is Annex SL When We're Talking About ISO Standards?

How it enhances the alignment of standards by providing a unifying 'high level structure' with identical core text and common terms and definitions.

Annex SL - you might hear this very sexily-titled moniker from some nerdy-sounding ISO practitioners and think that it contains some table listing requirements or some such. But actually it’s something very useful to anyone who’s decided to do two or more of the most widely-used ISOs (namely ISO 9001 (quality), ISO 14001 (environmental), ISO 45001 (health & safety) and ISO 27001 (information security) standards).

This is because Annex SL is, in effect, an ISO directive which prescribes how ISO management system standards should be written. The aim is to enhance the consistency and alignment of standards by providing a unifying high level structure with identical core text and common terms and definitions.

In the previous section you’ll have seen that there are a lot of common requirements between all four of the standards we covered, and this is because all of them use the Annex SL High Level Structure.

In practice this means that all four of the standards we are looking at will all have the same common elements below, and the specific requirements of each standard will be found within these sections:

  • Scope

  • Context of the Organisation

  • Leadership

  • Planning

  • Support

  • Operation

  • Performance Evaluation

  • Improvement

The big advantage is that if you are undertaking, for example, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, and you wanted to address the clause ‘Context of the Organisation’ by doing a SWOT & PESTLE analysis, then you would only have to do this once. If you wanted to add ISO 45001, again you would do this just the once, but make sure you added in a health & safety dimension to the analysis.

Likewise with all the other headings - the different standards may have different specific requirements under each heading, and there may be different emphases in certain areas, but they’ll all fall broadly under each of these headings. Which does make life easier!

This means you can also look at each heading in turn and see how it might relate to you, taking advantage of being able to integrate the many common elements between the ISOs.

If you would like to look at how to implement an ISO management system, then simply contact us.

Or, if you want to see what's involved in more detail, then get a completely free, no obligation, totally tailored ISO Gap Analysis for your business (only available to UK businesses).

Article originated in The Ideas Distillery blog

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