ISO 45001 – what does it mean for your company?

First global standard for occupational health and safety management was published

on 12th March 2018.

ISO 45001: Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements with Guidance for Use’, has been published today, 12th March 2018, by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).

What is ISO 45001?

ISO 45001 sets out to provide a robust and effective set of processes for improving work safety in global supply chains.  ISO 45001 is the world’s first International Standard for occupational health and safety.

Designed to help organisations of all sizes and industries, ISO state that the new International Standard is expected to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses around the world.

What does ISO 45001 mean for your company?

The introduction of ISO 45001 is a cause for celebration for health and safety professionals. But what does the new standard practically mean for health and safety professionals here in the UK, and beyond? And how important is it?

Speaking to SHPonline, the British Safety Council’s head of audit, David Parr, says we should not underestimate the significance of ISO 45001, as it will eventually replace up to 24 different standards across the globe.

“It provides a real opportunity for the profile of health and safety to be enhanced across organisations in any sector,” says Mr Parr.

Join a webinar on 23rd March to hear more on ISO 45001 from experts Kate Field, Global Product Champion for Health and Safety at BSI, and Mike Taylor, Associate Director, SHEQ at Turner & Townsend. Register for free here.

Health and safety must be integrated across the business

“If you are going to adopt the new standard then you have to be able to demonstrate top management involvement,” he explains. “There are 13 explicit requirements in the ISO 45001 standard placed on management. It means that health and safety has to be integrated across the business. It is no longer acceptable for it to be a stand-alone function.”

Mr Parr adds that be believes a lot of organisations that are already certified to the world’s former reference for workplace health and safety, OHSAS 18001, will have started work to get accredited with the new standard.

“18001 will be withdrawn over the next few years, so they will have to transition if they want the external recognition and the assurance that certification provides to stakeholders,” adds Mr Parr.

“We’ve already had existing 18001 clients asking to be certificated within the next few months.”

Interpretations of ISO 45001 in different sectors

The British Safety Council has already run several workshops on the new international standard, which Mr Parr says offers practical guidance on how the interpret the clauses and how to apply them.

“At the last one we did, we had three guys from the health and safety from an emergency service,” he recalls. “They provided a very different approach, because they come across situations most of us do not encounter. Their interpretation of how to meet the standard was different to someone working in an insurance office. It demonstrates that the standard can be adopted by any sector, which was its intention.”

The vice president of engineering and chief technology officer at Honeywell Industrial Safety, Gene Vena told SHP Online, the launch of ISO 45001 marks a “fundamental and welcome shift in the role of occupational health and safety (OHS) within industrial organisations”.

“It is the first time that an international OHS standard formally acknowledges that creating a safer and healthier workplace goes hand in hand with a more productive, efficient and sustainable business,” says Mr Vena.

“A testament to this is that OHS is seen as being at the very heart of an organisation’s business strategy and ‘no longer treated as a stand alone’. “Considering that, last year, occupational injuries and ill-health cost UK employers £2.9 billion, giving organisations a single, clear framework to improve their OHS performance can really make the difference.”

Pivotal role of preventative measures

Mr Vena adds the importance of ISO 45001 also lies in its focus on controlling “all factors that might result in illness, injury, and in extreme cases death”.

“In other words, the standard recognises the pivotal role that preventative measures play in tackling not only physical injuries but also ill-health in the long term, which remains a major concern in the UK,” he adds.

“Last year, 1.3 million cases of occupational ill-health were recorded, a figure that is more than double that of non-fatal injuries.

From pure compliance to the process of risk management

“The publication of ISO 45001 comes at a time when the Internet of Things (IoT) and data automation are already shifting the approach to risk-management from one of pure compliance to a process that is becoming more information-based.

“Whereas, traditionally, the process of OSH management has been a manual one, real-time data capture means that evidence of compliance can now gathered automatically, thus avoiding errors. Additionally, the transformation of personal protective equipment (PPE) into smart, edge devices that collect and transmit data on occupational exposures can play a key role in preventing long-term illnesses.

“This connected approach is likely to open up unprecedented opportunities for companies to enhance their OHS in line with the new ISO 45001 standard,” adds Mr Vena.

ISO 45001 – what does it mean for your company?

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