Each year, approximately two million workers worldwide are killed on the job. That’s 6,300 workers every day.

Given those facts and the increasing globalization of business, the pressing need to address workplace safety systematically and on an international basis cannot be exaggerated.

A huge step in this direction will be the promulgation of ISO 45001 in the first half of 2017.

When this occurs, the type of management system platforms that were once implemented for quality (ISO 9001) and the environment (ISO 14001) will exist for occupational health and safety.

In fact, ISO 45001 will feature the same terminology and structure as 9001 and 14001, making integrating occupational health and safety systems into a company’s overall management system easier.

The long-term aim is to provide an international standard of safety that integrates the actions of workers, contractors, and subcontractors with other management systems.

Elements of the New Standard

The origin of ISO 45001 dates back to Oct. 2013. However, its programmatic roots can be traced to Occupational Health Safety and Assessment Specifications 18001, the initial standard for occupational health and safety management systems.

This international standard was created in 1999 to reduce the confusion resulting from conflicting national health and safety standards, which often resulted in the creation of trade barriers.

The new standard will take into account all factors impacting absences and long-term health issues.
The continuing growth of world trade has made the need to further harmonize safety and health management systems by adopting an international standard of shared best practices even more urgent. It is this realization that led to ISO 45001.

According to some experts, the aim of OHSAS 18001 was to control risks and improve safety performance. ISO 45001 will put greater emphasis on an ongoing systematic and proactive assessment of risks that may cause injury and illness.

The new standard will also:

  • Take into account all factors impacting absences and long-term health issues, including psychosocial issues such as stress that can be managed by a company’s safety and health systems
  • Focus more on the concerns of all stakeholders and the consideration of internal and external factors impacting a company’s ability to meet its safety goals
  • Provide a more comprehensive, or contextual, view of safety that looks beyond a company’s health and safety programs and factors in the environment of partners not under its direct control, such as subcontractors and suppliers
  • Focus more on legal and regulatory compliance
  • Integrate safety efforts into companies’ strategic initiatives

It is expected that ISO 45001 can be used by organizations of all sizes, but some have questioned its applicability to small and medium-size companies.

It is expected that ISO 45001 can be used by organizations of all sizes.
In a recent American Society of Safety Engineers interview, Ken Clayman, a member of the American National Standards Institute Technical Advisory Group (TAG), addressed this issue.

“This has been an ongoing concern among the members of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group,” says Clayman.

“It is the intent of the TAG, as well as the ISO PC 283 (the international committee that will eventually approve and release the standard) to ensure that ISO 45001 is amenable to small and medium enterprises.

“We are getting there but still have some work to do with the draft international standard to make it more palatable to small and medium enterprises.

"In the meantime, I would tell a small or medium enterprise that the standard provides the foundation for a management system and helps organizations plan for and structure their own approach, but it does not dictate how to create and implement an OHS management system.

“That means a small or medium enterprise can create a system that works best within its structure, limitations, and aspirations.

"In fact, the standard requires that organizations look for the best ways to incorporate OHS management system elements within their existing business/operational structure and systems, rather than creating parallel or competing processes.”

Until the final draft is completed, companies can only wait to determine their plan of action for integrating ISO 45001 into their corporate systems.

It is generally understood, however, that when it is implemented, safety professionals across the globe will have a commonly recognized international standard for addressing safety problems, significantly advancing their efforts to eliminate or reduce risks to workers.

Read the complete ASSE interview with Ken Clayman.


For more information, email or call Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1900 )