Safe workplace for all

Published:  16 March, 2018

The world's first international occupational health and safety standard has been published.

The aim of the new standard is to support organisations all over the world in providing a safe and healthy workplace for workers and other people; prevent deaths, work-related injury and ill-health; and continually improve health and safety standards through the reduction of risks.

Health and safety at work continues to be a challenge across the globe; according to the International Labour Organisation, over 7,600 people die every day from work related accidents or illnesses, equalling to over 2.78 million a year.

In an attempt to combat this problem the International Organization for Standardization on 12 March 2018 published ISO 45001 - Health and Safety Management Systems – Requirements.

The standard, which was developed by a committee of occupational health and safety experts, is applicable to all organisations, regardless of size, industry or nature of business. It also follows other management system approaches such as ISO 14001 and ISO 9001, which deal with environmental and quality management. It has taken into account other standards in this area such as OHSAS 18001, the International Labour Organization's ILO-OSH Guidelines, various existing national standards and the ILO's international labour standards and conventions.

According to ISO, the new standard provides an opportunity for organisations to benchmark their OH&S management system and ensure that they are implementing accepted control systems.

Benefits of implementation of the standard include reduction of work related injuries, ill health and death; eliminating or minimising OH&S risks; improvements in OH&S performance and effectiveness; demonstrating corporate responsibility and meeting supply chain requirements; and protection of brand reputation.

Whilst the key aim of ISO 45001 is the protection of employees and other individuals, adopting the standard is expected to also bring commercial benefit. A streamlined and well-managed health and safety system can reduce inefficiencies and costs in the system. In addition, companies that invite tenders for work now commonly ask for details of any accreditations held: in high-risk sectors, failure to hold accreditations can prevent access to tenders entirely.

The existing British Standard OHSAS 18001 will be withdrawn on publication of ISO 45001 and organisations currently certified to OHSAS 18001 will have a three-year transition period to migrate across to ISO 45001.

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