ISO 3100 provides us with principles and guidelines on risk management. It is a framework that can be applied to all organisations.

The first step in this framework is ‘establishing the context’ This important step is often missed, resulting in an ineffective health and safety management system. Often we see organisations that adopt (or purchase) ‘off the shelf’ systems and processes. They later discover that these systems and processes are not working for their business. They have missed the first, crucial step – establishing the context.

So what is context? Context comprises both internal and external factors. These factors include the aims and objectives of the organisation; it’s core activities; applicable legislation, standards and codes of practice; the environment in which the organisation operates, the organisational structure; its stakeholders; processes for information flow; the organisational culture etc.

A thorough understanding of these factors will set the scene for the development of a heath and safety management system suitably tailored for the organisation.