Sometimes it seems as if major changes in the world of environment, health and safety (EHS) management are few and far between. One change we can count on is ISO 45001, the international occupational health and safety (OHS) management systems standard expected to be issued final in October 2016. Whether your organization already has an OHS management system or not, the advent of ISO 45001 will certainly have a significant impact on global business that you should start preparing for now.
The Current State: OHSAS 18001
Most organizations have adopted and operate based on a variety of management system frameworks. This is especially true in the asset-intensive and high-risk industries, including manufacturing, chemicals, oil and gas, mining, utilities, etc. Consensus standards issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) led the way, such as ISO 9001 (quality management), ISO 14001 (environmental management), and more recently ISO 31000 (risk management).
Notably, there has never been an ISO management system standard for health and safety. Instead this need has been filled by OHSAS 18001, developed by international consensus, and issued by the British Standards Institute (BSI) over 25 years ago. OHSAS 18001 has been widely adopted over the years, and used effectively by organizations worldwide to reduce workplace risks and improve health and safety performance. It has become the de facto international standard for OHS management systems.
What’s Coming Next: ISO 45001
A new OHS management system standard, ISO 45001, is slated to be issued in October 2016. This new standard will effectively replace OHSAS 18001. A work group has been hard at work for several years developing the new standard and planning for a smooth transition from OHSAS 18001. A principal feature will be alignment with ISO 9001 and 14001 especially regarding risk management. Some of the key differences from OHSAS 18001 to expect in the new standard include:
- More emphasis on a systematic risk-based approach
- Requirement for increased engagement of senior management and incorporation of OHS into business strategy
- More formal consideration of internal and external business issues in developing OHS programs
- Increased emphasis on the need to continually know and demonstrate compliance status
- Use of performance indicators to track performance
Business Impacts and How to Prepare
ISO 45001 will be the new internationally accepted standard. It should be on the radar screen of any organization that participates in the global economy. For starters, if your company is already certified to OHSAS 18001 or implementing it now, you will need to prepare to transition to the new standard.
Even if your company has developed its own OHS management system, and currently has no plans to be certified to an external standard, there will likely be impacts as a result of adoption of the new standard. If your organization’s industry ecosystem and supply chain adopts ISO 45001 (as is highly likely), your company will be pulled along to achieve the same standard. The ability to compete for business may well be at stake.
To prepare, consider taking these steps as recommended by BSI:
- If you are currently certified to OHSAS 18001, monitor changes that will come with ISO 45001
- Consider using this as an opportunity to integrate OHS with other ISO management system standards you may have implemented, e.g. 14001, 9001, etc.
- Inform senior management of the coming changes and the potential need for resources to adapt
- If you are currently implementing an OHS management system, keep going with an eye towards a likely two to three-year transition period to ISO 45001
Webinar: Learn more about ISO 45001
ISO 45001 is a hot topic, with the potential to significantly impact how you manage OHS in your organization, and even how your company competes for business. Join us for an educational webinar on February 11, 2016, “ISO 45001: What to Expect and How to Prepare”.
This free online event will feature the research findings and insights of analyst firm Aberdeen Group. Topics will include what to expect from the new standard, how to make the transition, and ultimately how to implement a best-in-class health and safety program.