All about ISO 45001: the new International Standard for occupational health and safety (OHS)
The first International Standard for occupational health and safety (OHS) was published 12 March 2018 and sets the minimum standard of practice to protect employees worldwide.
Five years in the making, ISO 45001:2018 Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements with guidance for use was published with an approval rating of 93 per cent.
It calls for the organisation’s management to integrate responsibility for health and safety issues as part of the organisation’s overall business plan rather than shift responsibility to individuals such as a safety manager.
An integrated solution
David Solomon, head of the Australian international delegation representing Standards Australia in the development of ISO 45001 and often referred to as ‘Mr 45001’ said the new international standard will eventually replace the 17-year-old AS/NZS 4801:2001 once it is judged on its own merit as appropriate for the Australian environment, an ongoing process.
IS045001 will also most likely supersede the UK standard OHSAS 18001 and US ANSI/AIHA Z10, among others.
He said it’s ground-breaking because it’s the first international standard for safety management systems that has the same high level structure as other ISO management system standards.
“ISO 45001 enables an organisation, through its OHS management system, to integrate other aspects of health and safety, such as worker wellness/wellbeing,” Solomon said.
45001 is compatible with the new versions of ISO 9001 (quality management) and follows ISO 14001 (environmental management) structure.
“ISO management systems can now be truly integrated with each other, reducing paperwork,” he said.
A modern approach
ISO45001 reflects contemporary safety practices and systems which are implemented today in ways that didn’t exist 17 years ago, according to Solomon. Its high level structure features:
- Participation and consultation
- Safety In Design
- Management of change – strengthened
- Evaluation of Compliance with legal requirements and other requirements
- Leadership and Commitment
- Continual Improvement
Australian business compliance requirements:
While ISO 45001 is a voluntary standard in Australia, compliance and certification may be a tender requirement.
However if you are complying with Australian law, compliance with the new standards, intended outcomes will be no more than an technical process for some and a breeze for others, according to Solomon.
“We fought hard internationally over many years through international debate to keep this document aligned with the Australian safety law and we were quite influential in the international arena,” he said.
The benefits of a global standard
“You can do business the same way around the world so itinerant workers can simply tap into the same systems. They are not learning a new way of doing things,” Solomon said.
That has not always been the case, despite common belief.
“A lot of people misconstrue 18001 as an international standard. However it’s British. The only reason it has any traction here is because expats from the UK in senior management roles want to use a management system they are familiar with. And they are not familiar with 4801.”