Annex SL is the high-level structure for modern ISO Standards. Through this new structure, the ISO wanted to ensure consistency and compatibility between the different Management System Standards. In turn, the structure allows for a more straightforward implementation when integrating multiple Standards and makes it easier for businesses and their staff to follow.
Annex SL (Changed to Annex L in 2019) was developed by ISO – the organisation responsible for creating and maintaining international standards with the objective of:
“delivering consistent and compatible management system standards in an attempt to make this process easier”
Annex SL provides the new high level structure for ISO management systems standards – it replaces the historical ISO Guide 83 and expands on the base structure already implemented.
It has been created to introduce identical core text and common terms and definitions. This will:
- streamline standards
- encourage standardization
- ease the integration of management systems.
Annex SL Clauses
The Annex SL structure consists of 10 clauses under which all content in a Management System Standard must be categorised:
- Clause 1 – Scope: This defines the intended outcomes of the Management System
- Clause 2 – Normative references: References any Standards or publications that are relevant
- Clause 3 – Terms and definitions: Definitions of the common terms used throughout the Standard are defined here
- Clause 4 – Context of the organisation: This defines the areas that the Management System will cover
- Clause 5 – Leadership: This area stresses the importance of the involvement of the leadership team within the operation of the Management System
- Clause 6 – Planning: How the Management System will achieve its objectives and how the business will deal with risk
- Clause 7 – Support: How the operation of the Management System will be supported to run efficiently
- Clause 8 – Operation: Details on the day-to-day processes and operations in your business, including how you will track the performance of these areas
- Clause 9 – Performance evaluation: Analysing and monitoring how well your business is operating against the requirements of your Management System
- Clause 10 – Improvement: Using the results of your performance evaluation to improve your business and its processes
Where possible these clauses have identical core text, no matter which Standard they are applied to, and share common terms and core definitions. It is necessary in some cases for the definitions to be reworded, but through Annex SL this is kept to a minimum due to the careful wording and planning behind the structure. This means that, for the most part, basic arrangements for the operation of a Management System, regardless of discipline, are standardised.
Another benefit is that discipline-centric details are usually contained under the one clause (Clause 8 – Operation). It may be necessary in some cases for other areas to contain these details. A great example of this is the environmental risk register for ISO 14001 which is under Clause 6 -Planning.
Risk Based Approach
Perhaps the most significant feature of Annex SL is the move towards risk-based management systems.
Planning for Risks and Opportunities is provided in subclauses of Clause 6, and introduces a new approach to management systems which can be aligned to ISO 31000:2018 – although this is not mandatory.
Which ISO Standards use Annex SL?
Most Management System Standards that have been released or updated since 2011 are using Annex SL as the basis for their structure.