ISO 45001: A new standard is born – step by slow step

ISO 45001: A new standard is born – step by slow step

Provided that the new standard for occupational health and safety, ISO 45001, will now be really be published in the first half of 2018, it will have been pretty much exactly five years since ISO made their decision in March 2013. A long time even for a comprehensive revision, even more so since it was built on top of the tried-and-tested foundation in BS OHSAS 18001, in combination with the already developed High Level Structure, which provides a uniform structure for all management system standards.

Just why the publication took so much time is common knowledge: the first ISO/DIS from November 2015 only met with 71 instead of the required 75% approval. And for good reasons, as evidenced by more than 3,000 comments that had been submitted. Then again, the whole development was not an easy one from the beginning: an OH&S norm issued by ISO has to formulate requirements that meet with global acceptance by all interested parties.

This ISO/DIS.1 then had to be revised in several places in order to reach a version that was agreeable to all parties. Another 1,600 comments showed that consensus on ISO/DIS.2 was indeed difficult to reach, however, in July 2017 a total of 79% of all delegates decided it would be sufficient for an FDIS.

So ISO 45001 seems to be well on its way now: a letter from the ISO/PC 283 secretariat states that the FDIS polling, which was started at the end of November, will be finalized on 25 January, 2018 now – with publication following shortly thereafter. It is definitely high time, because the advantages of this new standard are beyond doubt, in spite of its difficult gestation period.

Among other valuable input, ISO 45001 will finally see occupational health and safety capable of full integration into an existing management system, even including aspects of corporate health management. Joint topics are, e.g. context of the organization, leadership and commitment, or the risk-based approach to processes. This elevates the new standard for workplace health and safety even more into the ranks of corporate leadership subjects of strategic significance. Globally active organizations will find it easier to work within a standardized corporate OH&S management system based on an internationally recognized ISO standard – to name just some of the advantages.

Some people claim this ISO standard to be a milestone on the way to a comprehensive, holistic and globally effective occupational health and safety protection. Only time and and application will show if this is indeed true.

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