ISO – High Level Structure (Annex SL) explained in 10 slides

The High Level Structure Explained in 10 slides

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This webpage with resources on the High Level Structure (HLS) is an initiative of Jeroen Houdijk (@houdyk). Based on the framework for management system standards, an Integrated Management System (IMS) is being developed. Please visit for more information and subscribe for news and developments.

Transcription of the video

Below is the full transcription of the video “The High Level Structure explained in 10 slides”, to see the video on youtube, or share it in an email, here is the short link; // [6.41 min] July 2015.

[1] The high level structure is a new default format for standards by the International Standardization Organization. I am going to explain in 10 slides what it is and show that it’s not something complicated. It is actually something that will make lots of the compliance easier for many businesses.

[2] The High Level Structure is mentioned in Annex SL of the ISO directive where all the new changes for the standards that are being rolled out this year (2015-2016). You can find this in this document. It’s not very interesting, let’s see what it is actually the goal.

[3] There we go, these are the old certification schemes. The most famous one, the most well-known are for quality, environment and health and safety. Quality is the ISO 9001. Environment; ISO 14001 and best practices for health and safety are certified with the OHSAS 18001.

[4] These old schemes, they had a different structure, their old structure. The terms and conditions are all very different and all focused on the language used in their specific part of the market, the specific part of the management of any business or organization.

[5] The new schemes that are coming out like this year, edition 2015, will be the following. The only difference is health and safety that is, will become ISO 45001.

[6] The big difference is that all new standards that are coming out by ISO will have the same, the same basis, the same structure. The same High Level Structure of each document, the same table of contents, similar, no correct me, the same use of terms and conditions. And this will make implementing these standards in a management system much more easy.

[7] The High Level Structure or HLS consists of 10 common chapters and each new norm that will come out will be based on these chapters;

  • Scope
  • References
  • Terms & Definitions
  • Context
  • Leadership
  • Planning
  • Support
  • Operation
  • Evaluation
  • Improvement

It’s important to see that the continuous improvement cycle is included in this structure. The Plan Do Check Act cycle. Most of you would know that.

[8] Imagine your business or your organization as this big blue circle. In a sustainable operating business, there should be taken into account all aspects related with people, planet and profit. And while you relate this to the Certification schemes, actually every company should be working with Health and Safety, Environment, and Quality standards to ensure durable operations.

And it’s very interesting to see that there are only a few companies that actually have these three certificates. There’re many companies who are, only one or may be two of them, but not three of them, and this new system will make it more easy to integrate these essential management systems standards into your business.

[9] When these standards are integrated in a system, it’s much easier to Plug In (that’s why it is called a plug in model) new aspects which are specific for the branch you are operating in, or any changes. It’s much more easy to implement it in a management system. It will be more easy to build management systems, they will be more simple and that will be more robust.

[10] When the management system as such is much more simple and people from all layers of your organization will be familiar with it, and a resilient system like this will, in an efficient way deal with stakeholders, legal aspects, risks and new opportunities.

So that’s what this new High Level Structure is all about. If you have any questions, you can send me a email, or check out my website. Follow me on twitter and please subscribe to my YouTube channel if you want to see more of these kind of videos. Thank you for watching.