An Update on ISO 45001



Last December, we shared news of the development of ISO 45001 – an international standard set to replace OHSAS 18001 – was underway.

In quite an unusual step for such an early stage of a standard’s development, the committee responsible for the standard has allowed interested parties to comment in an effort to increase transparency and create a best-practice standard with a global consensus.

The headline news has been that voting failed on the ISO 45001 Committee Draft. With a two-thirds majority needed for a Draft standard to proceed, there were 29 approvals and 17 disapprovals. However, a ‘no’ at this stage simply means that a majority of the voting countries believe there is a need to improve the draft further before it can go to the next stage.

This situation is not out of the ordinary; during the development of the new version of ISO 14001 expected next year, a second Committee Draft was created and this will happen with ISO 45001 once the Committee’s Working Group meets to discuss submitted comments.

Seeking to allay fears that ISO 45001 had ‘failed,’ the Convener of ISO 45001 at ISO Kristian Glæsel recently commented on LinkedIn, saying;

“We are very optimistic – but we do know we have a big challenge ahead.

It is actually quite simple – we’ve got several new issues in play – first this is the first ISO standard on Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) and thus a new group of interested parties are involved. Maybe not all are too familiar with writing management standards, so we all have to learn as we go along. Secondly we are implementing the new superstructure Annex SL – a structure that for many is difficult to understand. Thirdly as is mentioned the Unions are not too thrilled with the standard.

The last issue I believe we will overcome by being very transparent in the process – The new ISO 45001 will be an improvement to OHSAS 18001, and I feel convinced that all interested parties can see that – when we get a little further in the process. It is important to remember that we are writing a Management Standard that should include all persons at the workplace – for the good of OH&S.”

Kristian went on to comment on the discussions within the Working Group, saying;

“We have at the moment some basic discussions on the scope of the standard – meaning what will the standard cover. In OHSAS 18001 the standard covered “people under the control of the organization” – In the new standard many believe it should cover “workers”.

So we have to discuss – is this a standard for only workers – or a standard for all persons at the workplace – or do the word “worker” cover both.”

Whilst no date has been publicly released yet, the next stage is for the standard’s committee to convene once more to go over the 2,800 comments received from the first Draft. With 53 participating countries and 6 major organisations involved, it now looks like the previously published timescales (final publication was tipped for October 2016) will now need to be reviewed.

Once published, the updated Committee Draft will again be available for public comment.

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