By Sphera’s Editorial Team | February 2, 2018

ISO 45001 is officially on the way.

On Jan. 31, the International Organization for Standardization announced on its Twitter feed that the final draft of ISO 45001, which focuses on occupational health and safety was approved with 93 percent of the votes.

The new standards were recently published.

ISO 45001 replaces OHSAS 18001, which is a British standard for occupational health and safety systems that was adapted by organizations in other countries as well. OHSAS 18001 was created in 1999, and the last major update took place in 2007.

Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, chairman of the Malaysian National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, told that: “Similar to OHSAS 18001, the ISO 45001 is aimed at aligning the range of national health and safety management standards into one to reduce confusion and market fragmentation.”

According to the International Labour Organization, there are 2.78 million people who die from occupational accidents and work-related diseases around the globe every year. Combine that with the estimated 374 million people who suffer from nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses, and it becomes clear how significant the workplace health and safety problem is on an international scale.

As ISO explains in its briefing note, “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 organization to proactively improve its OH&S performance in preventing injury and ill-health.”

ISO notes that an organization would benefit from using the new standard for improving OH&S performance for many reasons, including:

  1. 1) Developing and implementing an OH&S policy and objectives.
  2. 2) Establishing systematic processes.
  3. 3) Determining hazards and risks associated with activities in the workplace.
  4. 4) Creating operational controls to manage risks and legal requirements.

ISO 45001 uses a simple Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) model.

This provides a framework for companies to plan what they need to put in place to minimize the risk of harm.

“The measures should address concerns that can lead to long-term health issues and absence from work,” according to the ISO’s website, “as well as those that give rise to accidents.” Additionally, David Smith, the committee chair, explained in that article that: “Wide adoption of ISO 45001 should reduce the horror stories in the media of poor OHS management leading to loss of life, injury and large-scale disasters as seen in the factory buildings around the world.”

The goals of the new standard are to improve the ability to respond to regulatory compliance issues, reduce the cost of incidents, and reduce downtime and absenteeism.

Some key differences to be on the lookout for in ISO 45001 vs. OHSAS 18001 are:

  1. 1) More emphasis on a systematic risk-based approach.
  2. 2) Requirement for increased engagement of senior management and incorporation of OHS into business strategy.
  3. 3) More formal consideration of internal and external business issues in developing OHS programs.
  4. 4) Increased emphasis on the need to continually know and demonstrate compliance status.
  5. 5) The use of performance indicators to track performance.

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

To learn more about how Sphera can help with your occupational health and safety needs, please contact us.

This blog post was updated March 12, 2018, to note ISO 45001 has officially been published.