BSI’s pandemic safe working guidelines underpin new international standard to protect staff from COVID-19

15 December 2020

UK National Standards Body helps reduce three-year international consensus process to just three months to support global business recovery

BSI, in its role as the UK National Standards Body, has today published new international guidelines for organizations to protect staff while operating effectively.

The free standard, named ISO/PAS 45005, Occupational health and safety management General guidelines for safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic, defines international best practice for managing the health and safety of workers and other stakeholders during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is intended to complement any existing national guidelines and regulations.

The guidelines cover everything from safely reopening business premises that have had to shut down, to steps for working more safely with the public and looking after workers’ psychological health and wellbeing - including for those working from home. It also includes recommendations on:

  • Personal protective equipment and face coverings
  • Ensuring people with disabilities are taken into account
  • What to do if someone becomes ill in the workplace
  • Co-ordinating with other businesses in shared work premises

The standard provides businesses with practical guidance on how to overcome the immediate difficulties that organizations are facing up and down the country and around the world, including supply chain management and will help businesses bounce back once the crisis passes.

Sally Swingewood, Lead Standards Development Manager for business improvement and occupational health and safety management at BSI, who manages the committee that developed the new international guidelines, commented: “As the National Standards Body for the UK, it is our duty to help improve the quality and safety of business by developing voluntary standards that can be effectively applied across workplaces. The global pandemic has overturned social and business norms and it is a challenge to organizations across the world to keep operating whilst also keeping people safe: today’s publication is step toward a resumption of stable business.

“We understand that not every organization has a dedicated human resources or OH&S function, so we have developed this guidance to be practical and easy to understand. It can be used in any organization, regardless of type, size or country of operations."

The committee1 gathered experts from 26 countries, who used the original guidelines developed and shared by BSI in the UK in May to develop this international standard. Its development was fast-tracked, taking three months rather than the average three years to publication.

Any organization that wishes to download the guidelines should visit the BSI website here.

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Notes to the editor:

To read more about BSI’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, please visit

1Committee, ISO/TC 283: