The first internationally agreed standard for occupational health and safety management systems is due to come into force in June 2017. The new standard, which is being developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation Standard (ISO) will be known as ISO 45001 and will replace the current British Standard, OHSAS 18001.
The ISO claims that the new standard will be suitable for any organisation, regardless of its size and type of work. ISO 45001 will place increased emphasis on risk management and on the integration of health and safety into a wider business strategy and an overall management system. As such, it will be compatible with standards on quality and environmental management (ISO 9001 and ISO 14001).
Although the ISO has used OHSAS 18001 as a blueprint for the new standard, the draft version of ISO 45001 places greater emphasis on organisational context, senior management and leadership, worker involvement and documented information. The standard will also require organisations to take on board the expectations of contractors, suppliers and neighbours.
The standard had originally been due to come into force in October 2016, but it narrowly failed to gain sufficient support in May 2016 from members of the ISO committee to move to its next stage. This delayed publication until February 2017 but, after a three-month public consultation, which ran until April 2016, produced over 3,000 comments, the ISO committee decided that it needed still more time to address them. Following a meeting in Toronto in June 2016, the committee announced that it would produce a further draft by October 2016 and move to a second consultation in early 2017.
Richard Jones, head of policy and public affairs at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and a member of the ISO task group for the standard, said that: “A great deal of progress has been made … The volume and diversity of responses to the draft international standard shows the keen interest and engagement that ISO 45001 is already generating. Securing agreement and reaching consensus remain vital. Extending the time frame supports achievement of this and helps ensure the overall outcome is a practical, robust and effective standard that can assist organisations worldwide improve health and safety performance.”