Why Should ‘I’ consider ISO 45001?

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Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) should be a major concern of organisations not only in sectors such as Mining and Construction where safety is critical, but in all sectors, including those which are often seen as ‘safe’, such as the Services industry. OHS is a legal requirement in South Africa, nevertheless workplace accidents that make headlines like the deadly collapse of the Grayston Drive pedestrian bridge on Gauteng’s M1 highway in October 2015, are just the tip of the iceberg. In the construction sector alone, two workers die on average every week in South Africa, and worldwide large-scale disasters, as seen in the factory building collapse in Bangladesh, are responsible for debilitating injuries, untold suffering and loss of life.

To assist you in learning a bit more about the standard and its relevance, we have created a free guide for you to download: “10 Steps to implementing an ISO 45001:2018 OHS Management System“.

Why the need for ISO 45001:2018 for workplace safety?

Occupational health and safety management systems are not new. Various countries have their own standards, although the only international documents are the International Labour Organization’s  Guidelines on OSH Management Systems and OHSAS 18001. ISO 45001:2018 now replaces the world’s reference for workplace health and safety, OHSAS 18001. The International Organization for Standardization is confident that wide adoption of ISO 45001 will reduce the horror stories of poor OHS management by enabling organisations globally to manage risks and improve operational performance. Irrespective of whether an organisation chooses to adopt ISO 45001:2018 or not, this management systems standard will become the norm, and organisations should be familiar with developments in worker safety.

What does ISO 45001:2018 mean for your organisation?

ISO 45001 is the first international OHS standard to formally acknowledge that creating a safer and healthier workplace goes hand in hand with a more productive, efficient and sustainable business. It sets out to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses, and improve productivity and efficiency by providing requirements and processes for enterprises to meet regulatory requirements, to manage risks and opportunities and to continually improve on performance. Organisations certified to OHSAS 18001 will need to become accredited to the new standard by 12 March 2021, and for enterprises new to OHS management systems standards, the key differences between ISO 45001:2018 and OHSAS follow.


New structure

An important difference between ISO 45001 and OHSAS 18001 is the High-level Structure. ISO now provides a common structure, identical core text, and terms and definitions for all revised standards so that management systems standards have the same look and feel, and to facilitate integration between systems, whether it be ISO 9001 (Quality Management), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management), or any other discipline.

From compliance to the process of risk management

While the goal of both standards is to prevent harm, ISO 45001 has new requirements for assessing risks and opportunities. It takes a proactive approach to risk control that starts with identifying all risks arising from an organisation’s activities and including these in the overall management system for ongoing identification and evaluation. OHSAS 18001 takes a reactive approach of ‘hazard control’ and delegates these responsibilities to safety management staff rather than integrating the responsibilities into the overall management system.

Leadership commitment

In ISO 45001, management commitment is central to the standard’s effectiveness in an organisation’s safety culture. Instead of providing oversight for the programme, the shift in ISO 45001 is to managerial ownership. Top management must demonstrate leadership by developing, leading and promoting a culture that supports and provides resources for the intended outcomes of the OHS management system.

Workers play a big part

OHSAS talks about ‘persons under the organisation’s control’; ISO 45001 uses the term ‘worker’. Worker essentially means everyone: paid, unpaid, regular, temporary, seasonal, casual, and part time; plus, top management and both managerial and non-managerial people; as well as those employed by the organisation, or by others such as external providers, contractors, and agency workers. Workers have greater participation, with employee and management collaboration on the Occupational, Health and Safety management system (OHSMS). Barriers to worker participation, which may include, language or literacy, or practises that discourage worker participation, need to be removed or reduced.

ISO 45001 – What to do next?​

Adopting the ISO 45001 standard means that health and safety becomes everyone’s responsibility, which is potentially its greatest strength. An organisation is only as good as its people – and to assist workers join in on developing and managing the OHSMS, training and education are essential.

How can Risk ZA assist you?

Risk ZA can help your organisation in adopting or migrating to the new standard. We are able to assist you in establishing an effective Health & Safety Management Systems by providing comprehensive training both in the standard’s requirements and against local OHS Acts.

To assist you in learning a bit more about the standard and its relevance, we have created a free guide for you to download: “10 Steps to implementing an ISO 45001:2018 OHS Management System“.

For more information or guidance on which ISO standard(s) and services would best suit the needs of your organisation, please email Risk ZA at info@riskza.com or contact us on 0861 Risk ZA / +27 (0) 31 569 5900.

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