• Lee Calver
  • 21 January 2015

New international standard for occupational safety and health enters new phase

ISO 45001 will replace BS OHSAS 18001 as the definitive occupational health and safety management system standard by by autumn 2016.

In 2013, ISO approved the creation of a new project committee to transform OHSAS 18001 into an ISO standard, ISO 45001, and this week, health and safety professionals from across the world have convened in Port of Spain, Trinidad, to work on the latest draft of the standard.

The event, being hosted by IOSH, has brought together experts from the UK to Japan, the USA to Australia, and Malaysia to South Africa. There are 54 countries involved in the putting together of the standard, with every continent represented, while 16 more are taking part in an observation role.

They are all part of a project committee set up by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and are spending the week-long meeting refining the draft, splitting into small multinational task groups to examine separate clauses.

Commenting, Charles Corrie, Secretary for ISO/PC 283, said the aim is to develop a standard which all countries can agree on:

“If you compare Germany, Japan, the USA and the UK, there are differences in approach.

“We need to agree the common basis for an effective health and safety standard that works with the different approaches. The aim is to ensure the use of management systems that adequately control health and safety risk.”

On Monday 19 January, the delegates all met together at the Hyatt Regency Hotel to discuss the draft standard and were given information about how they may edit the clauses if they feel it is needed. They have now separated into their respective task groups and are due to recommence work in these groups today.

Richard Jones, IOSH Head of Policy and Public Affairs, and ISO task group member said:

“It’s great to meet up again with fellow professionals from across the globe to discuss the content, build consensus and make further progress on this important standard.”

What are the main changes from OHSAS 18001?

The new standard will require that health and safety is managed in a systematic way within organisations, not just as an added extra.

Richard Green, Head of Technical Services at IRCA, the leading professional body for management system auditors, which represents auditors in over 120 countries, said:

“The stated purpose of ISO 45001 is “to enable an organisation to proactively improve its OH&S performance in preventing injury and ill-health”, whereas the purpose of OHSAS 18001 is “to enable an organisation to control its OH&S risks and improve its OH&S performance”.

“Some will argue that this puts more emphasis on seeking continual improvement, not only by addressing OH&S risks but also through other initiatives like health, education and training. Others may argue that this simply clarifies previous intent.”

He continued:

“Familiar concepts and requirements in ISO 45001 include application of the Plan-Do-Check-Act model, setting policy, setting objectives, carrying out internal audits and management review. In many cases the current requirements have been carried over from OHSAS 18001.”

The final ISO 45001 standard is expected in October 2016, but of course this is subject to change and we will keep you updated on any developments over the coming months.

If you wish to discover more about what the new standard means for your organisation, please get in touch with us to talk to our experts. Call us on +44 (0) 871 777 8881.