ISO 45001 is a new occupational health and safety management system standard currently under development.
Once published, ISO 45001 will replace OHSAS 18001 as the primary international standard for OH&S management systems.
The completion of the DIS2 stage in June 2017 signalled that the development of the standard is now moving into the next phase. According to ISO, the Final Draft (FDIS) stage can already be reached in November 2017, while publication of the standard is anticipated for February 2018.
It is also possible, if the DIS2 meets with broad approval, to skip the FDIS stage, thus allowing the new ISO 45001 to enter into force ahead of schedule – possibly as early as November 2017.
As for certification requirements – e.g. for the transition of existing certifications on the basis of OHSAS 18001 into certifications pursuant to ISO 45001 – no final international or national regulations or guidelines has been published at this point. Against this background, it is not possible to communicate any information on the subject of certification for now.
The British Standards Institution has already announced that it is to withdraw the present OHSAS 18001 standard once ISO 45001 has been published. Consequently, ISO 45001 will soon be the authoritative standard for occupational health and safety Management systems.
The standard is at the draft stage and is therefore still subject to change, but some key features have already been communicated.
- The high-level structure will result in content similar or even identical to that of the revised ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards. One example is the context of the organization/company.
- Moreover, external as well as internal occupational health and safety themes need to be considered. In addition to external persons (such as customers), internal groups, in particular employees, should explicitly be taken into account.
- ISO 45001 places great emphasis on the responsibility of senior management. This aspect has already been implemented in the revised ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards.
- The new ISO 45001 explicitly includes persons who are not permanently employed, but are in other ways working under the responsibility of the organization/company, such as subcontractors, as well as processes that have been outsourced in their entirety. The new standard includes a separate subsection on this subject.
- The standard also introduces the term “opportunities”, as a new aspect in the field of occupational health and safety. This covers issues that go beyond the mere elimination or minimisation of occupational health and safety risks.
The ISO 45001 standard displays a so-called 'high level structure' (HLS), which is applicable to all new management system standards – including the ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 standards. The uniform structure and the use of consistent definitions and terminology make it easier for companies to pool their certifications in an integrated management system. Moreover, the consistent structure facilitates the standard's enhanced clarity and applicability.
Even though ISO 45001 will constitute a fully new standard, its foundations already exist and are formulated in OHSAS 18001. Companies that have already implemented an occupational health and safety management system in accordance with the current standard, and actively apply it in everyday company practice, can expect a smooth transition to ISO 45001.
Nevertheless, ISO 45001 will provide new impetus for occupational health and safety practices in organizations. Even experienced health and safety professionals will find that the new regulations provide new incentives for further process enhancements – in particular the more specific requirements regarding contractors and also regarding mental health. This translates into additional opportunities for protecting and promoting employees' health and performance, as well as a sustainable improvement of employee motivation.