Learn how a new model for managing workplace safety can reduce injuries, decrease risks and improve business outcomes

by Brianna Crandall — February 5, 2018 — Every day around the world, more than 7,600 lives are lost due to work-related incidents and diseases, totaling nearly 2.8 million fatalities a year. To combat this global safety issue, a new workplace safety standard has been approved after five years in the making — ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, spearheaded by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) with the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

The voluntary consensus standard provides a framework that can increase employee safety, reduce workplace risks and improve business outcomes worldwide. The first-of-its-kind global consensus model for managing workplace safety and health risks is expected to be published in March.

According to Vic Toy, CSP, CIH, chair of the US technical advisory group (TAG):

ISO 45001 is one of the most significant developments in workplace safety over the past 50 years, presenting an opportunity to move the needle on reducing occupational safety and health risks. The goal was to create a widely accepted standard that can produce a highly effective safety and health management system for an increasingly interconnected world, regardless of an organization’s size, location, supply chains or nature of work. It becomes a minimum standard of practice, and a good one at that.

The standard was developed by a committee of occupational safety and health experts who followed a combination of other workplace safety and health management systems such as ANSI/ASSE Z10, OHSAS 18001, ISO 14001, ISO 9001, guidelines from the International Labor Organization, and various national standards. ISO 45001 will replace OHSAS 18001, a British standard that grew to global acceptance. There will be a three-year transition period for registrants.

According to nonprofit global OSH association ASSE, many organizations, especially in Europe and Asia, are transitioning to a management-systems approach as a better way to control organizational risk and achieve a measure of corporate social responsibility. That new foundation is ISO 45001, reflecting diverse opinions and methods from around the world on the best ways to construct an occupational safety and health management system. These comprehensive systems help companies combat well-known workplace hazards such as falls, which are a leading cause of on-the-job injuries and deaths.

Toy continued:

A significant aspect of ISO 45001 is how it works within an organization to integrate with processes and goals. Everyone has a role and responsibility in the management system. Safety and health becomes a shared objective, and when done right, the organization greatly benefits from this cohesive way of managing risks.

The multi-year process of establishing a global standard included input from more than 75 countries across six continents. The ultimate outcome is expected to be safer and healthier workplaces across the globe as companies adopt the groundbreaking standard to reduce injuries, illnesses and fatalities.

TAG Vice Chair Kathy A. Seabrook, CSP, CFIOSH, EurOSHM, stated:

Better management of risk is needed by businesses in every industry to not only protect their human capital, but to achieve growth and sustainability objectives while improving their bottom line. ISO 45001 is a tool to help organizations do just that.

For more information, see the ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems page on the ASSE Web site.