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Status of the new ISO 45001 Standard

Monday, August 28, 2017

Work on the new ISO 45001 Standard (Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems Standard – Requirements) has made recent progress, receiving approval on its latest draft from member countries of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and those involved in the standard’s development. The approval keeps ISO 45001 on schedule for the anticipated publication in February 2018. However, progress on the standard depends on the outcome of a September ISO Project Committee 283 meeting in Malaysia.

Iso 45001_timeline

In the ISO standards development process, each country that participates in the Project Committee has one vote. The United States, represented by its Technical Advisory Group (TAG), was one of many countries to vote “yes with comments” on the draft standard.

The issues generating a need for discussion include:

  • Elimination of hazards. In making changes in response to earlier comments the new draft now promotes “elimination” of hazards. It may make more sense to encourage reduction of risks and “control” of hazards (gravity and electricity are hazards after all, and elimination may not always be practical).
  • Outsourcing and contractor safety. These areas are conflicting and confusing, and may be interpreted as redundant.
  • Who is a “worker” for purposes of participation? Workers may include contractor employees and it is not clear how they would be able to, or even if they should participate in a company’s policy and planning decisions.
  • Work organization. Social factors (victimization, harassment, bullying) are included in the list of hazards to be addressed by the standard.  It is not clear if these belong in this safety and health standard.

Russell Hayward, of the U.S. TAG had the following to say about the standard’s requirement of eliminating hazards:

“The U.S. TAG’s concern is the draft’s use of the word ‘eliminate,’ which could be misinterpreted as something very absolute. You are not always able to completely eliminate a hazard.”

Hayward also commented that the standards’ outsourcing and contractor safety requirements are conflicting and confusing, and may be interpreted as redundant.

ISO 45001 is being designed to help organizations reduce the burden of occupational injuries and diseases by providing a framework to improve employee safety, reduce workplace risks and create better, safer working conditions, all over the world.

For more information on the standard, see the ISO 45001 webpage.

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