A new Health and Safety Standard
Since 2007, British Standard BS OHSAS 18001 has been the basis for certification of internationally-recognised occupational health and safety management systems. Now this standard is to be superseded: as from June 2017 - with 9 month delay - new standard ISO 45001 – currently under development by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) - is due to take its place.
The most important objective – optimisation of processes in organizations from all sectors so that the life and health of employees are protected as well as possible – will also apply when the new standard enters into force. And, like BS OHSAS 18001, the new standard will also be based on the “Plan – Do – Check – Act” model. The most important new feature is the introduction of a High Level Structure which aims to provide a uniform structure for all the different types of management systems, and there will also be some changes of emphasis and a series of additions. For example, there will be stronger focus on the environment of the organization; this could mean that organizations have to think beyond their own employees to the working conditions all along their value chain. It is also expected that organizations should identify opportunities for improvement of health and safety within a process of their own. A further aspect is that the role of top management is to be more prominent.
How to benefit from the changeover
Organizations whose health and safety management systems are already certified to BS OHSAS 18001 will be obliged to change over to ISO 45001 once it is published. A transition period will be allowed for this, allowing sufficient time in order to implement the new requirements successfully. This does mean some extra work and cost, but certified organizations will benefit noticeably from the new standard – through further optimised health and safety processes, fewer operational disturbances, lower accident and sickness rates, enhanced safety awareness and sustainable competitive advantage.