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What is ISO 45001 and how will it affect global work safety?

ISO 45001 Approved as a Draft International Standard

ISO 45001 is one of the world’s most anticipated standards for occupational health and safety systems (OHS). It aligned with ISO 9001 (Quality Management), ISO 14001 (Environment Management and builds on OHSAS 18001 which is a framework aimed at controlling risks.

The system is designed to work with any organization, large or small. It is the product of collaboration between more than 70 countries. The framework identifies and controls health and safety risks, reduces potential accidents, aids legislative compliance and improves overall performance. The standard also demonstrates how to develop and implement a policy with the right objectives for organizations of all types and sizes. More and more companies also want detailed information about their suppliers’ occupational health and safety practices to protect their brands.

According to the Briefing note issued by the ISO, an organization can proactively improve its OHS performance by following processes that use appropriate tools.

  • developing and implementing an OHS policy and OHS objectives.
  • establishing systematic processes which take into account its risks and opportunities, and its legal requirements.
  • determining the hazards associated with its activities; putting in controls and seeking to eliminate them.
  • establishing controls to manage its risks and legal requirements.
  • increasing awareness of its OHS risks.
  • evaluating its OHS performance and seeking to improve it.
  • ensuring workers take an active role in OHS matters.

In combination these measures will ensure that an organization’s reputation as a safe place to work will be promoted, and can have more direct benefits, such as:

  • improving its ability to respond to regulatory compliance issues.
  • reducing the overall costs of incidents.
  • reducing downtime and the costs of disruption to operations.
  • reducing the cost of insurance premiums.
  • reducing absenteeism and employee turnover rates
  • recognition for having achieved an international benchmark (which may in turn influence customers).

According to a White Paper by the BSI Group, “An efficient occupational health and safety management system promotes a safer and healthier working environment for everyone involved; [It offers] a framework that identifies and controls health and safety risks, reduces potential accidents, aids legislative compliance and improves overall performance.”

These new standards address specific concerns including:

  • The proper way to develop a policy that fits all organizations regardless of size or culture.
  • Meeting the needs of companies that desire more information from suppliers. Working with companies that meet specific safety standards helps brands maintain integrity with their clients.
  • Offering third-party certifications to assure a business is meeting standards.
  • Manageability for businesses of all sizes. Allowing businesses in any industry to create benchmarks for their health and safety standards.

The standards described in the draft are not new or even tough to implement. It’s merely a systematic approach to ensure all aspects are considered when directing operations in the workplace. It stresses the responsibilities of those in authority and acknowledges the necessity of everyone in the workplace to participate.

myosh has been calling for the standardization of efficient, all-inclusive safety management systems and is delighted at the progress made with 45001. This fits in nicely with what many responsible companies have already implemented. There is no doubt that the adoption of a few basic principles will have a profound effect on health and cost, worldwide. Even though everyone is in favor of safe work places, some remain skeptical about the efficiencies of bureaucratic systems. Safety systems do work! An efficient occupational health and safety management system promotes a safer and healthier working environment for everyone involved.

Simple, manageable steps and an all-inclusive culture where everyone participates are key to safety success. Well-established principles can now be propagated by using readily available technologies like mobile devices. Safety systems are for the people and must be by the people. The year 2016 promises to be a watershed in the short history of health and safety systems.

Many companies already have processes in place to satisfy 45001. These principles are now affordable for even the smallest business.

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