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ISO 45001 Globally Aligns Workplace Safety Efforts

Feb. 2, 2018
New safety standard provides framework to improve business outcomes.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has approved a global measure aimed at improving workplace safety and reducing risk.

ISO 45001, Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, is a voluntary consensus model spearheaded by the global standards organization along with support from the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

“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,” said Vic Toy, U.S. technical advisory group (TAG) chair, in a statement. “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.”

There are 2.8 million workplace fatalities across the globe each year. The voluntary consensus standard provides a framework for businesses that can increase employee safety, reduce workplace risks and improve business outcomes worldwide, according to ASSE.

According to ISO, 93 percent of its members voted in favor of the new international standard, far above the organization’s requirement of a two-thirds majority.

The process of developing the standard included seeking input from more than 75 countries. The end goal is to encourage safer and healthier workplaces globally as companies adopt the groundbreaking standard to reduce injuries, illnesses and fatalities, according to ASSE.

“A significant aspect of ISO 45001 is how it works within an organization to integrate with processes and goals,” Toy said. “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 standard blends EHS management systems such as ANSI/ASSE Z10, OHSAS 18001, ISO 14001, ISO 9001, guidelines from the International Labor Organization and other various national standards. ISO 45001 will replace OHSAS 18001, a British standard.

“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,” Kathy A. Seabrook, TAG vice chair, in a statement. “ISO 45001 is a tool to help organizations do just that.”

There will be a three-year transition period for registrants.

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