ISO 45001 FAQ with George Redmond, OHSAS technical expert

There has been a lot of hype about ISO 45001 lately, so we asked George Redmond, our Occupational Health and Safety technical expert some questions about the latest progress, what our clients can expert, and what you can do now.

What’s happening with ISO 45001, the long-awaited successor to BS OHSAS 18001?

We’re still waiting for the new standard. It’s possible it could still be finalized and published by the end of this year, but it’s more likely to be in mid 2018.

Why the delay?

Occupational health and safety internationally can vary significantly in terms of legislative requirements, organizational norms, interested parties’ needs and expectations, and culture. This has been particularly evident during the development of ISO 45001, with lengthy debate and deliberation on a number of topics – a prime example being the issue of worker participation and consultation.

Progress has been made in these areas, however, resulting in a remit in July to progress towards the full standard.

What can we expect from the new standard?

We know enough to say for sure that this will be an excellent standard, and it will suit UK organizations very well. It will be very well aligned to the UK’s existing methods of ensuring workplace health and safety. For example, in Europe we are long accustomed to worker consultation, but some countries outside Europe may find this more challenging.

What will be the benefits?

First and most importantly, ISO 45001 will be fully aligned with many key international standards that you’ll be familiar with, such as ISO 9001. This gives you the ability to integrate your management systems, documentation and assessments, bringing significant time and cost savings.

Secondly, ISO 45001 will have much greater focus on leadership and senior management commitment to creating a health and safety culture and providing a safe and healthy workplace. This is critical to the governance, risk management and reputation of companies, affecting the share price of listed firms.

Thirdly, the standard will require improved control of contractors, who can represent the biggest health and safety risk for companies. Contractors have high incident rates – and such high rates can affect productivity and share price. Even if the fault for an accident lies with a contractor, the Health and Safety Executive and the media will invariably focus their attention on the larger blue chip company employing it.

Lastly, the standard will look at worker engagement through organizational behaviour and company culture. The effectiveness of internal communications will be measured to see if key health and safety messages are getting across.

What should our clients be doing?

If you’re a BSI client, you should be thinking about training right now, especially bringing senior and middle management up to speed. ISO 45001 supersedes BS OHSAS 18001, so if your company adopts the requirements of the new standard now, you can be audited to them now, and certified to ISO 45001 as soon as it’s published. In the meantime, your existing BS OHSAS 18001 registration will remain valid.

For those yet to implement BS OHSAS 18001, doing so now would provide all the benefits that come with effective management of occupational health and safety, while reducing the time and work required to comply with the requirements of ISO 45001.

Looking for further help?

We’re offering a new training package that’s already getting great feedback. It consists of interactive tasks and videos that stimulate and challenge both senior and middle managers, bringing to life how ISO 45001 can be implemented for maximum benefit. It’s a truly engaging course, not death by PowerPoint! Take a look at our training courses >