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ISO 45001 sets out to provide a robust and effective set of processes for improving work safety in global supply chains. ISO 45001 is the world’s first International Standard for occupational health and safety.
Designed to help organisations of all sizes and industries, ISO state that the new International Standard is expected to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses around the world.
The introduction of ISO 45001 is a cause for celebration for health and safety professionals. But what does the new standard practically mean for health and safety professionals here in the UK, and beyond? And how important is it?
Speaking to SHP, the British Safety Council’s head of audit, David Parr, says we should not underestimate the significance of ISO 45001, as it will eventually replace up to 24 different standards across the globe.
“It provides a real opportunity for the profile of health and safety to be enhanced across organisations in any sector,” says Mr Parr.
“If you are going to adopt the new standard then you have to be able to demonstrate top management involvement,” he explains. “There are 13 explicit requirements in the ISO 45001 standard placed on management. It means that health and safety has to be integrated across the business. It is no longer acceptable for it to be a stand-alone function.”
Mr Parr adds that be believes a lot of organisations that are already certified to the world’s former reference for workplace health and safety, OHSAS 18001, will have started work to get accredited with the new standard.
“18001 will be withdrawn over the next few years, so they will have to transition if they want the external recognition and the assurance that certification provides to stakeholders,” adds Mr Parr.
“We’ve already had existing 18001 clients asking to be certificated within the next few months.”
The British Safety Council has already run several workshops on the new international standard, which Mr Parr says offers practical guidance on how the interpret the clauses and how to apply them.
“At the last one we did, we had three guys from the health and safety from an emergency service,” he recalls. “They provided a very different approach, because they come across situations most of us do not encounter. Their interpretation of how to meet the standard was different to someone working in an insurance office. It demonstrates that the standard can be adopted by any sector, which was its intention.”
The vice president of engineering and chief technology officer at Honeywell Industrial Safety, Gene Vena told SHP Online, the launch of ISO 45001 marks a “fundamental and welcome shift in the role of occupational health and safety (OHS) within industrial organisations”.
“It is the first time that an international OHS standard formally acknowledges that creating a safer and healthier workplace goes hand in hand with a more productive, efficient and sustainable business,” says Mr Vena.
“A testament to this is that OHS is seen as being at the very heart of an organisation’s business strategy and ‘no longer treated as a stand alone’. “Considering that, last year, occupational injuries and ill-health cost UK employers £2.9 billion, giving organisations a single, clear framework to improve their OHS performance can really make the difference.”
Mr Vena adds the importance of ISO 45001 also lies in its focus on controlling “all factors that might result in illness, injury, and in extreme cases death”.
“In other words, the standard recognises the pivotal role that preventative measures play in tackling not only physical injuries but also ill-health in the long term, which remains a major concern in the UK,” he adds.
“Last year, 1.3 million cases of occupational ill-health were recorded, a figure that is more than double that of non-fatal injuries.
“The publication of ISO 45001 comes at a time when the Internet of Things (IoT) and data automation are already shifting the approach to risk-management from one of pure compliance to a process that is becoming more information-based.
“Whereas, traditionally, the process of OSH management has been a manual one, real-time data capture means that evidence of compliance can now gathered automatically, thus avoiding errors. Additionally, the transformation of personal protective equipment (PPE) into smart, edge devices that collect and transmit data on occupational exposures can play a key role in preventing long-term illnesses.
“This connected approach is likely to open up unprecedented opportunities for companies to enhance their OHS in line with the new ISO 45001 standard,” adds Mr Vena.
And the road to ISO 45001 compliance has already begun. Earlier this week, it was announced that 10 UK and international organisations, including Overbury, have all been independently assessed by BSI and achieved conformity to the new international standard.
“At Overbury, health and safety remains our number one priority and we are fully committed to the new ISO 45001 standard,” says commercial director, Paul Brazier.
“It fits with our strategy to use technology to encourage an open and empowered culture, enabling our staff, clients and supply chain to continually raise the health and safety bar.”
And the chief executive of the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health, Teresa Budworth describes the introduction of ISO 45001 as “a turning point for our profession”.
“Last year 31.2 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury. By working to agreed, high standards I believe that practitioners, in the UK and beyond, can make a significant difference to the people within their care, reducing work-related injuries and ill-health and preventing accidents and deaths,” says Ms Budworth.
“I would encourage all organisations – large and small – to consider adopting the standard. Whether you’re looking to introduce a health and safety management system or improve an existing one, ISO 45001 can help you to achieve your goals.
“What’s more, achievement of the standard will demonstrate to workers and other interested stakeholders that you take your obligations to provide a safe and healthy working environment very seriously.”
According to 2017 calculations by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), 2.78 million fatal accidents occur at work yearly. This means that, every day, almost 7 700 persons die of work-related diseases or injuries. Additionally, there are some 374 million non-fatal work-related injuries and illnesses each year, many of these resulting in extended absences from work. This paints a sober picture of the modern workplace – one where workers can suffer serious consequences as a result of simply “doing their job”.
ISO 45001 provides governmental agencies, industry and other affected stakeholders with usable guidance for improving worker safety in countries around the world. By means of an easy-to-use framework, it can be applied to both captive and partner factories and production facilities, regardless of their location.
David Smith, Chair of project committee ISO/PC 283 that developed ISO 45001, believes the new International Standard will be a real game changer for millions of workers: “It is hoped that ISO 45001 will lead to a major transformation in workplace practices and reduce the tragic toll of work-related accidents and illnesses across the globe.” The new standard will help organisations provide a safe and healthy work environment for workers and visitors by continually improving their OH and S performance.
Smith adds: “World standards writers have come together to provide a framework for a safer workplace for all, whatever sector you work in and wherever you work in the world.”
More than 70 countries were directly involved in the creation of this important document, developed by ISO/PC 283, Occupational health and safety management systems, with the British Standards Institution (BSI) serving as the committee secretariat.
Because ISO 45001 is designed to integrate with other ISO management systems standards, ensuring a high level of compatibility with the new versions of ISO 9001 (quality management) and ISO 14001 (environmental management), businesses that already implement an ISO standard will have a leg up if they decide to work toward ISO 45001.
The new OH and S standard is based on the common elements found in all of ISO’s management systems standards and uses a simple Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) model, which provides a framework for organisations to plan what they need to put in place in order to minimize the risk of harm. The measures should address concerns that can lead to long-term health issues and absence from work, as well as those that give rise to accidents.
ISO 45001 will replace OHSAS 18001, the world’s former reference for workplace health and safety. Organisations already certified to OHSAS 18001 will have three years to comply with the new ISO 45001 standard, although certification of conformity to ISO 45001 is not a requirement of the standard.
The International Accreditation Forum (IAF) has developed the migration requirements to help certified organisations, certification bodies, accreditation bodies and other interested parties prepare. For more information, see the IAF Website.