• International Workplace
  • 21 February 2018

New international standard for occupational safety and health to be published in March

ISO 45001, the long-awaited new international standard for occupational safety and health, is set to be published in March, it has been announced. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), which has been part of a committee of occupational health and safety experts developing the new standard, has said that the standard has gained approval, with an overwhelming 93% voting in favour of publication, and could now be published as early as 8 March.

ISO 45001 is an International Standard that specifies requirements for an occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system, with guidance for its use, to enable an organisation to proactively improve its OH&S performance in preventing injury and ill health. ISO 45001 is intended to be applicable to any organisation, regardless of its size, type and nature. All of its requirements are intended to be integrated into an organisation’s own management processes. ISO 45001 enables an organisation, through its OH&S management system, to integrate other aspects of health and safety, such as worker wellness/wellbeing.

It is intended that an ISO 45001 based OH&S management system will enable an organisation to improve its OH&S performance by:

  • developing and implementing an OH&S policy and OH&S objectives;
  • establishing systematic processes which consider its ‘context’ and which take into account its risks and opportunities, and its legal and other requirements;
  • determining the hazards and OH&S risks associated with its activities; seeking to eliminate them, or putting in controls to minimise their potential effects;
  • establishing operational controls to manage its OH&S risks and its legal and other requirements;
  • increasing awareness of its OH&S risks;
  • evaluating its OH&S performance and seeking to improve it, through taking appropriate actions;
  • ensuring workers take an active role in OH&S matters.

It is expected that, in combination, these measures will ensure that an organisation’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; and
  • recognition for having achieved an international benchmark (which may in turn influence customers who are concerned about their social responsibilities).

David Smith, Chair of ISO/PC 283, the project committee developing the standard, said that alignment of ISO 45001 to the suite of ISO management system standards will come as a welcome addition.

“We now have an International Standard for OH&S, aligned with other business standards such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO/IEC 27001, that helps organisations manage this key risk as part of their business processes.

“ISO 45001 is a significant improvement on OHSAS 18001 (an existing series of standards), which has established that standardisation using the risk-based approach works across the world and business sectors,” he added. “Effective application of ISO 45001 will reduce the risk of harm in the workplace.”

More information on the standard’s current status is available here.