Replacing over 20 national health and safety standards, and following several years of development, the long-awaited release of ISO 45001:2018 on March 12, 2018 provides the first globally recognised standard for health and safety management systems. But what is all the fuss about?
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), there are over 2.78 million deaths each year from workplace injuries or illnesses. It’s clear then that there is a need for a globalised set of standards to improve the management of health and safety across the world, but as the UK has one of the best safety records in the world surely there isn’t much of an impact on our approach? The HSEs statistics for Great Britain published in 2017 perhaps paint a different story:
- 0.6 million non-fatal injuries to workers in 16/17
- 137 fatal injuries to workers in 16/17
- 31.2 million working days lost due to work-related ill-health and non-fatal injuries in 16/17
- 1.3 million work-related ill heath cases in 16/17
- £5.3 billion annual costs of workplace injury
- £69.9 million in fines from prosecutions.
The new standard is therefore not simply for those countries lagging behind the UK: it’s an opportunity for companies with or without existing OHSAS 18001 certification to implement the latest health and safety management techniques, align their practices to current international trends and develop a positive health and safety culture.
New to health and safety management systems?
Companies currently operating without an OH&S management system don’t suddenly have to implement this new standard. It isn’t written in to law and your legal obligations remain exactly as they were, but if you are looking to promote a positive health and safety culture, achieve external recognised certification for your management system or simply improve your H&S performance then implementing a ISO 45001:2018 certified management system is certainly for you.
A well-structured and well-designed H&S management system can provide significant benefits to any organisation:
- A reduction in incidents resulting in lower lost-time, absenteeism and staff turnover
- Access to a wider pool of potential clients and opportunities
- Provides a framework for best practice
- Improves hazards and risk identification
- Improves workforce engagement
- Facilitates a continuous improvement culture
- Reduces insurance costs.
While there is clearly a cost to implementing a formal system to manage health and safety and an ongoing resource required to maintain the processes and certification, the actual requirements for ISO 45001:2018 go little beyond the existing legal requirements and best practice. It simply provides a framework for that best practice and drives active participation from the management.
So, with such a clear financial, professional and moral return on investment the question really is why wouldn’t ISO 45001 be right for you?
Transitioning to ISO 45001:2018 from OHSAS 18001?
As with the updated ISO quality and environmental management system standards released back in 2015, ISO 45001:2018 follows the high-level structure (Annex SL) placing the emphasis on leadership, communication and continuous improvement.
- For those holding ISO 9001:2015 certification, requirements should be familiar and the transition across straightforward, and potentially even encouraging the use of an integrated management system.
- For those without the experience of existing ISO structures, you will need to undertake a gap analysis against the new standard to understand where the requirements differ.
ISO 45001:2018 will eventually replace OHSAS 18001, and certifying bodies will stop providing certification to that standard during 2021, so there’s no rush to make the switch. If, however, demonstrating a dedication to the very best standards of health and safety is part of your company ethos then why wait?
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