ISO 45001 was published in March 2018 and since then, we’ve published a couple blogs about this new Occupational Health & Safety Standard, which will replace OHSAS 18001 in March 2021.
The first blog we wrote was to point out the differences between ISO 45001 and OHSAS 18001.
The second blog we wrote was to summarize an introductory livestream video done by ISO’s Maria Lazarte from the ISO General Secretariat with guests Richard Jones, Charles Corrie, David Smith and Jan Toft Rasmussen. We summarized the What, When, Why, How and Who’s of the new standard in that comprehensive post.
Since it’s been published, there have been numerous companies all over the world that have certified to the standard, from a construction company in Ireland to a cloud security company in Asia. One foodservice design company based in Britain achieved transition to ISO 45001 in 3 months. We expect a continued growth of companies certifying to this standard as the business environmental continues to emphasize global reach.
ISO 45001 In A Nutshell
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 45001 is intended to be applicable to any organization regardless of its size, type and nature. All of its requirements are intended to be integrated into an organization’s own management processes. ISO 45001 enables an organization, through its OH&S management system, to integrate other aspects of health and safety, such as worker wellness/wellbeing; however, it should be noted that an organization can be required by applicable legal requirements to also address such issues.
In developing ISO 45001, the committee made sure it’s compatible with Annex SL – which is the framework used by ISO 9001, 14001 and 27001. Common terminology is used between all standards so it is easier to align 45001 with 9001. For companies that use both of these standards, it will be a stronger, better, higher quality and safer company.
ISO 45001 is designed for any company, in any industry, of any size, in any location around the world. Any company that cares for their employees can use this standard, even if they are not seeking to be certified to it.
OHSAS 18001 Is Being Withdrawn
OHSAS 18001 has been withdrawn effective March 12, 2018. Companies who are currently using OHSAS 18001 will need to migrate to ISO 45001 within three years.
Differences Between ISO 45001 and OHSAS 18001
They are very similar in that they both use a Plan, Do, Check, Act model. 45001 encompasses most of the areas of OHSAS 18001 for occupational health and safety.
ISO 45001 Speaks To Leadership
The differences are that 45001 follows the structure of other international standards. There is a much larger focus on the responsibility of leadership in ISO 45001. It also speaks to the need for worker participation. The standard aims to have worker health and safety be a central tenant in the way a company operates, integrated into overall business processes. Health and safety isn’t a stand alone process or the responsibility of one person or department.
From the delegates on the committee representing workers, they sought to participate in making their workplace safer but they really wanted language in the standard to make sure their top management was clear that they hold ultimate responsibility for setting this into place in their organization
ISO 45001 is More Comprehensive
ISO 45001 is designed to take into account many more factors than 18001. For instance, 45001 recognizes other formats for data collection and storage – such as digital formats to reduce paperwork. Beyond just health and safety, ISO 45001 gives management a tool to strengthen their entire business if they follow it.
ISO 45001 is More Proactive
ISO 45001 focuses on continually assessing opportunity to reduce risks.
ISO uses terms across all of their standards that users will be familiar with – for example, the term “legal requirements” is used instead of “compliance obligations” because they wanted to make it clear that some countries have a legal requirement to do certain things.
The standard pursues the idea that every employee has a role to play in thinking about health and safety. For example, the purchasing manager should think about risks before they place every order for equipment that workers will use.
What about small businesses?
Small businesses (SMEs) can absolutely adopt 45001 even if they don’t currently have 18001.
ISO 45001 makes it clear that all top management have a role to play in health and safety.
ISO 45001 Helps Workers
The ISO 45001 standard provides a systematic, comprehensive approach to health and safety on the job. It answers many specific questions on how to prevent injury and illness, rather than just dealing with them as they arise.
Health and Safety is Everyone’s Job
All levels of the organization are addressed in this standard. It’s not just applicable to one employee or department, rather, it offers guidelines for the entire organization, especially decision makers and leadership.
Using PPE As Last Resort
Rather than offering PPE (personal protective equipment) and hanging safety signs, this standard aims to be “in front” of issues before they happen.
An example was shared in the video regarding excess noise. While many recommendations may be to simply offer PPE to workers near the noise, this standard illustrates how to work to pinpoint the noise, measure it, and how to mitigate it instead of simply handing out ear protection.
PPE is not the foundation of the safety standard. The standard helps organizations create an environment that doesn’t require PE in the first place. In other words, PPE is a last resort.