According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), approx. 2.3 million people lose their lives each year as a result of work-related illnesses or accidents. In addition, there are numbers of occupational accidents involving (sometimes serious) injuries (see for example ISO, 12th Feb. 2016)– a non-sustainable balance that needs to be reduced or (best case) avoided. As part of a long-standing process, ISO 45001 has now been launched to curb this problem. The new standard in occupational health and safety management was finally published at the beginning of this week (12th March 2018).
ISO 45001 – general
- ISO 45001 will replace the existing British standard OHSAS 18001 which will be withdrawn in three years, i. e. in March 2021 (see BSI)
- ISO 45001 is a requirement standard which means it is possible for companies to be ISO 45001-certified
- There is a structural similarity to existing ISO standards (e. g. ISO 9001, ISO 14001), which is the most significant difference compared to the previous standard
- Reference to PDCA cycle
- Thus, the requirements for an integrated management system are also made easier and are more consistent
Content Changes – ISO 45001 vs. OHSAS 18001
- Partly similar or same content as ISO 9001 and 14001 (concerns general things, e. g. the context of an organization)
- Management responsibility is highlighted
- Explicit inclusion of persons who are not employed directly by the organization (e. g. subcontractors, outsourced processes)
- Inclusion of the term ‘opportunities’ in the context of occupational health and safety management (proactive consideration of relevant aspects)
- Additional focus on mental (health) aspects (e. g. motivation)
What should companies be prepared for?
- Companies which want to certify their occupational health and safety management system should act in accordance with ISO 45001 as OHSAS 18001 will become obsolete
- The change for companies with existing OHSAS 18001 certifications to ISO 45001 should not be too difficult as most of the content is reflected in the new standard (major changes: structure and a few content constraints, see above); the ISO / PC 283 Committee which is responsible for the specific standard development provides some recommendations on a separate website; in addition, some information about the transition is listed as well on the website of the British Standard Institution BSI (e. g. here)
- ISO 45001 should be the driver of further improvement processes for companies in this important area
A company that wants to operate in a sustainable way should take the responsibility for its impacts on the society (see Communication from the Commission on the new EU strategy for CSR, 2011, p.6). In terms of occupational health and safety, this means for enterprises to assume full responsibility for the employees (within the corporate sphere) and doing everything in their power to protect the health of employees in their day-to-day work. The ISO 45001 will certainly help to implement appropriate management structures and measures. Whether a (global) decrease in the number of death and injury accidents will result which can be traced back to the ISO 45001, remains to be observed over the next few years.
The DFGE welcomes this new standard, which is based on modern requirements and contemporary aspects. In addition, the more efficient design of integrated management systems is advantageous and as well recommended. A combination, for example, of environmental, quality and occupational safety management systems already covers a certain basic set of sustainability aspects, allowing to deal with above-named effects (on the society) and contributes to a long-term oriented corporate success.