ISO standard on Occupational Health and Safety takes a further step

ISO standard on Occupational Health and Safety takes a further step

Accidents at work can happen to anybody at anytime. They include slips and trips, electrical accidents, contact with hazardous chemicals, manual handling injuries, falls from a height etc. Chronic exposure to certain working conditions may cause diseases such as: respiratory disorders, cancer, industrial deafness, poisonings from certain substances, chronic back problems, burnout etc.

According to data released by the International Labour Organization (ILO) more than 2.3 million people die each year as a result of work-related accidents and diseases, in addition to the over 300 million who sustain non-fatal accidents.

These statistics prove that there’s an immediate need for organizations around the globe to improve their health and safety management systems – and this need will only grow in the future. As globalization increases, more consumers and customers expect organizations to be ethical in every aspect of their business, including the way they address their employees’ safety and health.

Building on OHSAS 18001

Programming Committee 283 of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO PC 283) is drafting a standard, ISO 45001, that will set requirements for occupational health and safety management systems.

The Committee is currently working with 50 countries and international organizations, including the International Labour Organization (ILO), to develop this standard that will improve occupational health and safety for everyone on local, national, regional and international levels, in both developed and developing countries.

Using OHSAS 18001 - the internationally recognized and adopted Standard for Occupational Health and Safety – as the blueprint, the standard will also be aligned with the new editions of the International standards ISO 9001 (Quality Management) and ISO 14001 (Environmental Management).

Moving to the DIS stage

In September, technical committee representatives working on the standard, including experts and senior figures from both ISO and the International Labour Organization (ILO), treated comments and issues raised during the Committee Draft (CD) consultation stage of its development.

Now that these have been resolved and the text improved, ISO 45001 has been approved to move to the Draft International Standard (DIS) stage, the public consultation stage before publication.

Belgian participation

The NBN committee I283, under the chairmanship of Geert Boogaerts (Essenscia) and with a strong participation of the social stakeholders, has made numerous contributions towards the drafting of this ISO standard.

Belgium has a long tradition in addressing Occupational Health and Safety. Now, for the first time, Occupational health and safety (OHS) management is addressed in an international standard. Therefore, the consensus building process to come towards common international positions, is more intense. The NBN commission members will soon analyze to what extent the forthcoming international standard ISO 45001 deviates from the current Belgian OHS practices.

What’s next?

Over the next months the Programming Committee will meet a number of times to develop the standard further and to ensure agreement between stakeholders. The final standard is expected to be published in October 2016.

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