HLS: the new ISO structure

HLS: the new ISO structure

‘Plug-in model’ for management system standards

Differences in nature, sequence and formulation of requirements in various ISO management system standards have made it difficult for years to apply standards in an integrated way. For users of multiple ISO management system standards, this is certainly a recognizable problem. With the development of the High Level Structure, ISO hopes to ban this problem to the past.

A system with a solid core
In recent years, ISO has worked hard to develop a common structure with identical basic requirements and terminology for management system standards, such as ISO 9001 (Quality Management) and ISO 14001 (Environmental Management). This new structure and content is indicated by the High Level Structure (HLS) and forms the basis of the so-called ‘Plug-in model’ for management system norms. This means that all management system norms assume the same core (‘operating system’) of an organization, in which subjects and sector-specific standards can then be plugged in as modules (see figure 1).

ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001
The first standards (including the ISO 22301 Business Continuity Management) drawn up according to the HLS are a fact. Gradually, all other ISO management system standards will follow in the coming years. With this, complex cross reference tables will hopefully be a thing of the past and implementation of integrated systems in ‘normal’ operations will probably be simpler. The biggest impact of the HLS naturally comes when it becomes part of the most frequently applied management system standards (ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001). The revision of the ISO 9001 and 14001 is already in progress. In addition, the OHSAS 18001 will be converted to an ISO standard in the coming years. This means that users of these ‘KAM standards’ will start to deal with the new structure from 2015 onwards.