ISO 45001: Your standard for occupational health and safety
Healthy and well-motivated employees are a vital factor for business success, and in many companies occupational health and safety management systems now make a major contribution to avoidance of injury and ill health. The systems provide a framework for identifying potential and existing health and safety risks at the workplace and also promote a proactive approach in order to minimise and eliminate them. This means that organizations not only demonstrate a sense of responsibility, but can also reduce costs through lower accident and illness rates − whilst at the same time increasing employee satisfaction.
Since 12 March 2018, the new international standard ISO 45001 has provided the basis for continual improvement of occupational health and safety throughout the world. It was developed by the International Organization for Standardization, and replaces the previous British Standard BS OHSAS 18001 as the key to certification of internationally-recognised occupational health and safety management systems.
Why ISO 45001? The benefit to you
- Systematic approach and continual improvement of occupational health and safety
- Identification of potential risks and hazards and elimination of these
- Cost saving through reduction of the accident and illness rates
- Raising worker awareness of safety issues
- Fulfilment of customer requirements
- Increased motivation and qualification for employees
Structure and main focus of ISO 45001
The essential aim – to optimize processes for companies in all industries so as to protect the life and health of employees as much as possible – will also apply with the new standard. Just like BS OHSAS 18001, it will be based on the “Plan – Do – Check – Act” model. The most important new aspect is the introduction of a so-called High Level Structure with the objective of applying a harmonised structure to all management system standards.
There is now greater focus on the environment of the organization. One important aspect is that working conditions should in future be considered along the entire supply chain in addition to the conditions of the organization’s own employees. This means that third party employees who are working within the area of responsibility of the organization also have to receive instruction on relevant health and safety measures.
Organizations are also expected to identify opportunities for improvement of occupational safety within a dedicated process. In addition, important functions and requirements within the framework of health and safety management are extended and transferred to the uppermost management levels. This means that there is a greater focus on the role of top management.
ISO 45001 – When did it enter into force and how long is the transition period?
ISO 45001 entered into force on 12 March 2018. The rules for transition from BS OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001 were laid down for all certification bodies by the IAF (International Accreditation Forum) on a global and binding basis.
There is a transition period which has been extended by six months due to the COVID-19 outbreak and which ends on 30 September 2021. All certificates based on OHSAS BS 18001:2007 will then become invalid. Up to the expiry deadline, organizations can move to the new standard within the framework of a recertification or surveillance audit, or possibly a special audit.
What must be considered in connection with risks and opportunities in the context of ISO 45001?
ISO 45001 follows the approach of risk-based thinking. This means that organizations have to consider their risks and opportunities more carefully than before and identify them accordingly. Instead of reacting to consequences that have already occurred, organizations have to make specific plans beforehand as to how potential effects are to be handled. Assessment of risks and opportunities can relate, for example, to investments (new machinery), in-house infrastructure, innovations or suppliers.
What must be taken into account regarding the certificates within the framework of recertification or surveillance?
When the certification process is complete, you will receive certificates according to ISO 45001:2018, which are valid for three years. The period of validity follows on directly from the previous certificate. That means that the expiry date of the new certificates corresponds to the normal three-year period (expiry date of the old certificate plus three years) if the process is carried out to time … in other words, if the audit and the NC management are completed on schedule. If the transition is made during a surveillance audit, the new ISO 45001 certificate takes on the period of validity of the existing certificate.
What is the structure of the new standard?
The new ISO 45001 follows the so-called “High Level Structure” (HLS). This standardized structure ensures simple integration of the new ISO 45001 management system into existing ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 systems. This leads to two significant benefits: on the one hand definitions and structures can be used in a harmonized way, and on the other the standards become easier to understand and synergies are possible through combining different standards and certifications. This saves time and money when introducing ISO 45001 into the organization.
How is the audit itself different?
Within the audit process, it is important to ensure that the participants named in the standard and the accreditation rules are taken fully into account. In ISO 45001, the participants are now more clearly defined with regard to their roles:
- management staff with legal responsibility for health and safety at work,
- members of management, along with permanent and temporary employees,
- employee representatives with responsibility for health and safety at work,
- the personnel responsible for monitoring the health of the employees for example company doctors and nurses.
In the audit, the management and employees of contractors should be interviewed at the site of the audited organization if possible.
If recertification is not to take place in a recertification or surveillance audit, what are the possibilities?
There is the possibility to change over to ISO 45001 in a special audit. This consists of an additional audit scheduled between the regular audits. The additional cost is higher than in a surveillance or recertification audit. This results from the additional time needed for preparation and follow-up work and for taking any changes since the previous audit into account. In addition, there are travel costs.
If you are not sure what changes you need to make in order to transition to the new standard, we are also happy to offer you a “gap audit” or preliminary audit. The gap audit can be attached to the next surveillance or recertification audit. You can obtain further information or request an offer by filling in our contact form.
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