ISO 45001 is the International Standard for Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) and is the world’s first international standard that covers health and safety at work. The ISO 45001 standard offers a single, clear framework for all organizations wishing to improve their safety performance.
Directed at the top management of an organization, ISO 45001 aims to provide a safe and healthy workplace for employees and visitors. To achieve this, it is crucial to control all factors that might result in illness, injury, and in extreme cases death, by mitigating adverse effects on the physical, mental, and cognitive condition of a person – and ISO 45001 covers all of those aspects.
ISO 45001 is not required. It is a global consensus standard with which companies can voluntarily choose to comply. It is not a legal requirement.
ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization. Because 'International Organization for Standardization' would have different acronyms in different languages (IOS in English, OIN in French for Organisation Internationale de Normalisation), the organization founders decided to use the acronym ISO as the standardized short name. ISO is derived from the Greek 'isos', meaning equal. Whatever the country, whatever the language, they are always referred to as ISO.
ISO, founded in 1947, is an independent, not-for-profit, non-governmental international organization with a central office based in Switzerland. One standards organization per country is allowed to be a member of ISO, and for the United States that member is the American National Standards Institute, commonly known as ANSI.
ISO brings together experts to share knowledge and develop international standards that provide solutions to global challenges. Today ISO has 23,934 international standards covering almost all aspects of technology and manufacturing. The short publication ISO in Brief provides more information on the organization, why international standards are important, and how ISO works.
An international standard is a document containing practical information and best practices. It often describes an agreed way of doing things.
ISO standards help:
The ISO standard for health and safety in the workplace was released in March 2018 and is called ISO 45001, Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems – Requirements with Guidance for Use.
The primary purpose of implementing an OH&S management system, like ISO 45001, is to prevent fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. Other benefits include:
In this free brochure, ISO 45001 - Occupational Health and Safety, learn more about ISO’s international standard for occupational health and safety and what it can do for your organization.
All ISO management systems use the same, simple concept: Plan, Do, Check, Act. This is often referred to as the PDCA cycle. Here is the way that the PDCA cycle relates to ISO 45001:
ISO 45001 is applicable to all organizations, regardless of size, industry, or nature of business. It is designed to be integrated into an organization’s existing management processes and follows the same high-level structure as other ISO management system standards, such as ISO 9001 Quality Management and ISO 14001 Environmental Management.
Certification to ISO 45001 is not a requirement of the standard but can be a useful tool to demonstrate that you meet its criteria. An organization can adopt some or all of the ISO 45001 standard to establish or improve their safety program. Simply having a formal management system in place will bring many benefits of its own through enforcing best practices. Certification is merely an added endorsement that demonstrates to external parties that you have achieved full compliance with a specific standard, but it is not required.
Work-related injuries, illnesses or fatalities are always difficult for any kind of organization, but the negative effects for small businesses can be overwhelming. This handbook, ISO 45001: A Practical Guide for Small Businesses, published jointly by ISO and UNIDO, aims to help smaller economic units implement the requirements of ISO 45001. Readers will get simple explanations and practical examples that support their first steps into the intricacies of workplace health and safety.
ISO 45001 enables organizations to achieve their safety goals as it provides for:
ISO 45001 does not address issues such as product safety, property damage, or environmental impacts. It is specifically focused on worker safety, and the safety of others who may be impacted by the organization’s activities.
ISO 45001 may be particularly beneficial for companies that participate in international trade. Seeing that a partner company is ISO 45001 aligned or certified provides information with respect to how they value safety. It also demonstrates to customers and the public that the organization values employee safety, which can improve public perception and increase business opportunities.
If ISO 45001 is not the right fit for your organization, other standards, guidelines, and models are available to help establish or improve your safety and health program.
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