by Thea Dunmire
ISO’s draft occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system standard, ISO 45001, has been released for translation. It will be available for public comment as a draft international standard (DIS) starting on February 12, 2016. Importantly, the ISO 45001 DIS is also out for vote on whether this draft, as currently written, should be published as an international standard. The ballot on that question closes internationally on May 12, 2016.
Concurrent with the release of the ISO 45001 DIS, ISO published an article on its website titled “Why the World Needs ISO 45001 for Workplace Safety.” This articles consists of an interview with David Smith, the chair of PC 283, the committee responsible for drafting the ISO 45001 standard. Smith outlines the hopes and aspirations for the standard in preventing individuals from being hurt on the job.
The important question facing those voting on the DIS is not, however, whether the world needs an ISO OH&S management system standard. That question was answered when this standard development effort was initiated in 2013. Instead, the question is whether this draft should be published as that standard. In essence, is this draft standard good enough?
ISO 45001 has a unique development history. Prior to the start of this standard development effort, there were already a number of OH&S management system standards in existence across the world. Most prominent among these were the OHSAS 18001 standard and the International Labor Organization (ILO) Guidelines on Occupational Safety and Health Management Systems. According to a 2011 survey conducted by the British Standards Institution (BSI), thousands of organizations worldwide use OHSAS 18001 for certification, often in conjunction with certification of their environmental management system to ISO 14001. Because of this, ISO 45001 is viewed by many organizations as a replacement for OHSAS 18001.
For organizations with existing OH&S management system certifications, an important issue is alignment with ISO 14001:2015. Organizations that are certified have consistently expressed a strong interest in ensuring that ISO standards support the development of integrated management systems within their organizations. This is particularly true for environmental and OH&S management systems.
Although it’s still early in the review process, several current users of ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 have already expressed strong concerns about the ISO 45001 DIS. Ironically, given the required use of a common high-level structure and text (Annex SL) for ISO management system standards, this includes concerns about lack of alignment with ISO 14001:2015. Although some of these differences are necessitated by the differences in scope between ISO 14001 and ISO 45001, many are not. Throughout the standard development process, the ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 standards have become increasingly divergent. This is particularly true for the requirements related to the identification and assessment of aspects and risks and the implementation of operational controls—requirements that provide the foundation of an effective environmental, health, and safety management system.
For more information about ISO 45001, read Exemplar Global’s article on the new standard here.
About the Author
Thea Dunmire is a member of the Working Group of ISO PC 283 that is drafting the ISO 45001 standard. She also participated in the development of OHSAS 18001:2007 and the most recent revision of ISO 14001. She is the author of numerous articles and posts regularly on several blog sites, including her newest site at www.ISO14001expert.com.