ISO 45001 To Replace OHSAS 18001 – Why It Matters To You

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You’ve probably already heard… OHSAS 18001 is going to be replaced by a new standard from the ISO, designated ISO 45001, sometime in 2016. And while your organization may, or may not, have paid much attention to OHSAS 18001 in the past, you’re going to want to start getting familiar with ISO 45001 soon. Put simply, ISO 45001 has the potential to impact virtually everyone in the world who has a job. It’s that big.

Before we get into what ISO 45001 is, let’s first look at why it is needed. According to the International Labor Organization, around 2.3 million people lost their lives, globally, as a result of work-related injury or disease in 2013. That’s a staggering cost in terms of human life, emotional suffering by survivors and the myriad costs associated with such an outcome. Reducing this number even by a few percentage points would be an enormous victory. Eliminating it entirely is something we can probably all agree, is worth trying to do.

To that end, ISO 45001 will, for the first time, require that occupational safety be woven into the DNA of the organization. No longer will management be able to simply delegate safety to a department. Top management will now be required to take ownership of the safety function. ISO 45001 will introduce a new concept to the safety paradigm – the concept of “context”. Simply put, organizational context means that the organization will not only need to consider safety for it’s own internal workers – it will also need to consider the safety of it’s contractors, suppliers and the community in which it is situated. For this reason, safety has to be included in the responsibilities of the highest levels of management.

One of the benefits of developing ISO 45001 as part of the ISO’s overall set of standards is that implementation will be greatly streamlined for those who have already implemented ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. The structure and process will look very familiar to these organizations. That should lead to greater acceptance and higher levels of participation without excessive overhead. Once implemented, ISO 45001 has the potential to reduce workplace illness and death, to reduce the costs of caring for patients and compensating families for loss, to reduce legal fees associated with such loss, and perhaps to even reduce insurance costs. All in all, ISO 45001 looks like it has the potential to be a win-win for everyone involved.

It will be exciting to check back in a few years and see how ISO 45001 has changed the landscape for workers around the world.

To learn more about ISO 45001, which is currently in draft stage, you can visit the ISO’s 45001 page here. A download of the draft standard is available for a modest fee.

We at Standard Flags are excited about ISO 45001 based on it’s potential to reduce workplace injuries and death. Rest assured that we have already begun development of logo, flag and banner designs to help you tell the world you’ve been certified to this standard. We’ll be sure to let you know when those new designs are ready for purchase.

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