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ISO Publishes Occupational Health and Safety Standard

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Geneva, Switzerland, announced that it has published ISO 45001:2018, “Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements with guidance for use.” With the new standard, which will be phased in over the next three years, the ISO said it seeks to provide “a robust and effective set of processes for improving work safety in global supply chains.”

ISO 45001:2018 is applicable to any organization that wishes to establish, implement and maintain an occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system to improve occupational health and safety, eliminate hazards and minimize OH&S risks (including system deficiencies), take advantage of OH&S opportunities, and address OH&S management system nonconformities associated with its activities. ISO said the standard does not state specific criteria for OH&S performance, nor is it prescriptive about the design of an OH&S management system.

ISO 45001 will replace OHSAS 18001, the former reference for workplace health and safety. The differences between the two, according to a Q&A on the ISO website with the leaders of the committee that developed the new standard, are generally that ISO 45001 takes a more holistic approach to the organization while OHSAS 18001 was focused on managing OH&S hazards and other internal issues.

"Directed at the top management of an organization, it aims to provide a safe and healthy workplace for employees and visitors. To achieve this, it is crucial to control all factors that might result in illness, injury, and in extreme cases death, by mitigating adverse effects on the physical, mental and cognitive condition of a person – and ISO 45001 covers all of those aspects," Kristian Glaesel, Convenor of the working group that developed the new standard, and Charles Corrie, Secretary of ISO/PC 283, said in the Q&A.


Companies familiar with other ISO management standards for quality management (ISO 9001) and environmental management (ISO 14001) will find a common framework in the new OH&S standard. Organizations already certified to OHSAS 18001 will have three years to comply with the new ISO 45001 standard, although certification of conformity to ISO 45001 is not a requirement of the standard.

“We predict that most organizations will use ISO 45001 to establish an effective OH&S management system, and just a few will want the extra recognition that comes with certification,” Glaesel and Corrie said.

More than 70 countries were directly involved in the creation of the new standard, developed by ISO/PC 283, Occupational health and safety management systems, with the British Standards Institution (BSI) serving as the committee secretariat.

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