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What to expect from an ISO 45001:2018 Lead Auditor Course

Let’s start at the beginning and look at the learning objectives of the ISO 45001 lead auditor course – these learning objectives are set out by IRCA/CQI for the training organisations to design their course materials around.

To provide delegates with the knowledge and skills required to perform first, second and third-party audits of occupational health and safety management systems against ISO 45001, in accordance with ISO 19011 and ISO/IEC 17021, as applicable

To meet these objectives the training provider must submit their course materials to IRCA/CQI for a technical review and approval.


Meeting the objectives

The objectives are met through an intense 5-day training course that covers all of ISO 45001:2018 from clause 4.1 to clause 10.3 from an auditor’s perspective.

For example, during your course you will learn how to analyse a clause and then discuss on how this clause may be audited, what evidence could you look for to determine conformance or nonconformance.


Once you have evaluated the standard you will move on to what auditors do including the additional requirements of lead auditors.

This will be around the audit cycle (Plan, conduct, report, and follow-up) and take you through the sections in an interactive way to ensure your understanding.

There will be a case study to apply each section of the audit cycle to and audit against for evidence of conformance (or nonconformance) against ISO 45001:2018.

Planning is a critical part of the audit cycle and therefore there will be sessions on pre audit activities – this will include scope, criteria, and objectives of audits as well as planning activities such as producing and audit plan and various audit checklists.


Delegate Expectations

Many delegates may not know what to expect from a Lead Auditor Course – some arrive on day 1 with the expectation that the course is going to be intense and they are correct. However, even though there is a lot of information being given to delegates this is done in a way that the theory is put into practice using a case study – this helps to consolidate any learning.

At the beginning of your training course the tutor will go through the course programme and manage any concerns you may have. It is important to understand not only the course objectives but also your own objectives (the reason you are attending the course) – your tutor will ask you as part of your introductions if you have any personal objectives, be honest and use this time to raise any concerns as well as discuss your own objectives (its ok to have an objective to pass the exam but also think about the learning you want to achieve).


Day 1 may seem very daunting as the majority of the first day is going through the standard and this for some delegates can be a lot of information to take on board but as the course progresses you will see that day 1 is only part of the jigsaw.

As the course progresses delegates will become more confident in applying the learning from day 1 using a case study. This will include various workshops using the case study to audit either 2nd or 3rd party and making decisions based on the findings.

Day 4 is the big day when all the learned skill are put together into an audit role play that between all the delegates willl audit most if not all the requirements of the standard and demonstrate all the audit skills and competences taught in a single mock audit event. This is the highpoint of the course and includes sessions many past attendees remember for most of their professional auditing career.


Common concerns/questions prior to the course

Q: My current experience of ISO 45001:2018 is limited?

A: Although it is preferable that you have some understanding of the ISO standard you will get an opportunity throughout the course to increase your knowledge by applying the requirements to audit situations. It is a recommendation that you attend an ISO 45001:2018 introduction course prior to the lead auditor course. The introduction course is classed as a foundation whereas the Lead Auditor is a professional level qualification. You will also benefit from reading the pre course information and starting to navigate your way around a copy of the standard.





Q: I have been told the exam is very difficult and not many people pass first time?

A: The pass rate is around 80% on average – this doesn’t mean 2 out of 10 people on your course will fail the exam first time. You will need to put in the effort, dedicate the week to the course, complete all homework and assignments throughout the week and ask questions for clarify your understanding. Your tutor will use the specimen exam throughout the week so that you understand the structure and the type of questions that will be in your real exam. Timing to complete the exam is strict and this is probably the number one reason delegates might fail the exam – they run out of time. The tutor will ensure you have some exam techniques and the exam itself will include approximate timings for each section. If in the unfortunate event you do not pass first time you can take it again within 12 months of your course.


Q: The days seem to be very long why is this

A: IRCA/CQI set a minimum number of hours that must be delivered to achieve the learning objectives. The tutor will ensure you have plenty of breaks throughout the course and as the course is delivered using lots of workshops and activities the group work will ensure the days do not seem long but are quite intense with lots of knowledge being passed from the tutor and the course material.


CQI-IRCA ISO45001-2018 Lead Auditor Course
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1 Comment


This course is very useful for health and safety professionals. The structure of the standard is such that one gets through understanding of HSE requirements for the organization to follow and all about how to audit those requirements. Also with lot of skill based objectives of the course to be met, the activities individual and group will make you feel the duration is just appropriate. Long days are duly justified.

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