ISO 45001 – Taking Safety and Health to a New Level

ISO 45001 – Taking Safety and Health to a New Level

20th March 2018

Last week saw the first publication ever of a global standard to occupational health and safety management – ISO 45001.  ISO 45001 aims to provide a robust and effective set of processes for improving work safety in global supply chains and is designed to aid organisations of all sizes and in all industries to help reduce workplace injuries and illnesses around the world. 

On a practical level, the British Safety Council’s (BSC) head of audit warns that we shouldn’t underestimate the significance of ISO 45001 as it will eventually replace up to 24 different standards across the globe and it provides a timely opportunity for the profile of health and safety to be enhanced across organisations and industries. 

For those businesses that want to adopt the new standard, there is a requirement to be able to demonstrate high level management involvement as there are 13 explicit requirements placed on management.  This means, on a practical level, that health and safety has to be integrated across the business and can no longer operate as a stand-alone function. 

The BSC has been holding workshops on the new international standard to offer practical guidance on how to interpret and apply the clauses contained in it.  The new standard focuses on controlling “all factors that might result in illness, injury and in extreme cases, death”.  The standard recognises the pivotal role played by preventative measures when it comes to tackling not just physical injuries, but also ill –health – an issue that continues to cause concern here in the UK.  Last year alone, 1.3 million cases of occupational ill-health were recorded, more than double the cases of non-fatal injuries, meaning the occupational ill-health is a vital problem that must be addressed.

The approach to risk management has been shifting in recent years from one of pure compliance, to a process that’s information based, thanks in large part to data automation and the Internet of Things (IoT).  The traditional process of occupational safety and health management has been manual whereas, real-time data capture now allows us to automatically gather evidence of compliance and avoid errors. 

Moreover, personal protective equipment (PPE) has undergone a radical transformation in recent years thanks to technological and materials developments, offering us smart devices (and even smart wearables, including clothing) that will collect and transmit data on occupational exposure, which will play a key role in preventing long-term illnesses.  The connected approach is predicted to provide unprecedented opportunities for companies in all industries to enhance their occupational safety and health management in line with the new standard.

Whether you are a business owner, manager or employee, the new standard is likely to have implications for you and the way in which you work.  ISO 45001 is set to become part of the business norm, whether organisations choose to adopt it or not, so staying up to date with the latest developments is essential.  Over the coming weeks we’ll be taking a more detailed look at the new standard and what it means for you and your business – if you don’t want to miss out, you can follow us on Facebook or Twitter so that you’re notified when our new information is published.