International occupational health and safety management standard published

The first international standard for occupational health and safety management has been published, in an effort to address the global need to improve the health and safety of workers.

The standard, ISO 45001, was developed by the British Standards Institution (BSI) with input from over 70 countries.

It encourages employers to view occupational health and safety as an investment rather than a regulatory burden, and is designed to be integrated into an organisation’s existing management systems.

It suggests that workers, especially those closest to a particular health and safety risk, should be involved in the decision-making process to help create a healthier, safer and engaged workforce.

The standard also emphasises the importance of the role of senior management in embedding and communicating occupational health and safety, although BSI stressed health and safety should be the responsibility of all staff, not just health and safety managers.

The standard, which replaces the British Standard OHSAS 18001, applies to all workers irrespective of their occupation, and whether they are in paid or voluntary work.

Existing users of OHSAS 18001 have three years to make the transition to the new standard.

Anne Hayes, head of governance and resilience at BSI, said ISO 45001 encouraged the protection of workers at all levels of an organisation. “From the Saturday part-timer on a zero-hours contract to the chief executive of an international conglomerate, this global standard was designed for the good of the organisation and everyone who works for it.

“Occupational health and safety management doesn’t have to mean more paperwork and more red tape. On the contrary, ISO 45001 was created to make it easier for organisations to create and maintain a safe and healthy working environment for all,” she added.

BSI said the key benefits of using standard include:

  • Fewer workplace incidents;
  • Reduced absenteeism and staff turnover, leading to increased productivity;
  • Reduced cost of insurance premiums;
  • The creation of a health and safety culture, whereby employees are encouraged to take an active role in their own health and safety at work;
  • Reinforced commitment from business leaders;
  • Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements;
  • Enhanced reputation, and;
  • Improved staff morale.
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