Get ready for the new ISO 45001 safety and health standard

Health ans safety ISO 45001

A new international standard for occupational safety and health, ISO 45001, is set to be published next year. In advance of a roundtable discussion about the standard at November’s Institution of Occupational Safety and Health conference, Marcus Boocock looks at how organisations can get ready for the standard.

Every year, an estimated 2.78 million people die across the world from an accident at work or an illness caused by work activities – more than 7,500 every day.

A huge proportion of these deaths – 2.4 million – are from work-related diseases, including cancer. In addition to the terrible human cost, the burden of occupational injuries and diseases is significant, both for employers and the wider economy, resulting in losses from early retirements, staff absence, rising insurance premiums, lost reputation and lower productivity.

Reducing work-related deaths, injuries and illness

The upcoming standard ISO 45001 is intended to reduce this terrible toll. It will be the first global standard of its kind, giving organisations a universally-accepted framework for improving employee health and safety, reducing workplace risks and creating healthier, safer working conditions. It will be applicable in all parts of the world and across all sectors.

Institution of Occupational Safety and Health annual conference 2017

As well as the roundtable on ISO 45001, delegates will hear from high-level speakers including Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts, Stephen Martin, director-general of the Institute of Directors, mental health expert Geoff McDonald and legendary paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson.

For more information or to book a place at IOSH 2017 on 20-21 November, please visit the IOSH website.

It is likely that the standard will be approved at the end of this year and will be ready for publication by May or June 2018.

Regardless of size or industry, the new standard aims to help organisations design and implement systems to prevent injury and ill health and ensure occupational safety and health (OSH) objectives are integrated into their business processes. It uses ISO’s high-level structure, common to all management systems standards, allowing organisations to more easily integrate OSH with their environmental and quality management systems.

This structure also means there is greater emphasis on the importance of leadership, worker participation and the ‘context’ of the organisation. Among the elements that need to be considered are the internal and external factors that could affect the management system, such as new technologies and also the requirement to design-in OSH at the earliest stage of process planning.

Replacing OHSAS 18001, the new standard has been developed by a committee made up of occupational health and safety experts from across the world. Among the organisations involved has been the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). It has been a Category A Liaison body, meaning it has had direct access to all papers and has participated in committee meetings.

Richard Jones, head of policy and public affairs at IOSH, has represented the Institution at the committee meetings, the most recent one held in Malacca, Malaysia, in September 2017.

Jones says: “Every day, thousands of lives are lost due to work accidents or fatal diseases linked to work activities – these are deaths that could and should have been prevented and must be in the future.

“With this in mind, the publication of ISO 45001 is incredibly significant. Global safety and health requires leadership, resources and strategic attention. Applying the principles of ISO 45001 will be a practical way of ensuring this.
“IOSH has been delighted to have played an active part in drawing up this important standard. Its development has seen a huge international collaboration, building consensus and ensuring a standard that’s fit for purpose.”

IOSH believes that businesses which prioritise the safety and health of employees, viewing it as an investment rather than a cost, reap the rewards. This includes experiencing enhanced productivity, improved reputation and increased sustainability.

ISO 45001 will help pave the way for businesses to do this.

Getting ready for ISO 45001

Now you know all about ISO 45001, what can your business do to get ready?

At IOSH 2017, IOSH’s annual international conference, a roundtable will be held to discuss the implementation of ISO 45001 and the impact it could have on safety and health in the workplace.

  1. Ahead of that roundtable, Richard Jones has suggested five things that businesses can do now to get ready for the standard:
  2. Secure ‘top management’ commitment to ISO 45001 and their involvement in actively leading on it.
  3. Review your current OSH arrangements against the ISO 45001 requirements to identify any gaps.
  4. Develop an implementation and resources plan to close the identified gaps.
  5. Ensure effective mechanisms for change management and worker consultation and participation.
  6. Take steps to address any OSH competence and resource needs across the organisation.

Marcus Boocock is communications officer at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

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