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Update on the Proposed ISO 45001 Standard on Safety Management Systems

Oct 17, 2017

By Vic Toy, CSP, CIH, Chair, U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG), and Kathy Seabrook, CSP, CFIOSH, EurOSHM, Vice-Chair, U.S. TAG

It seems like it’s been a long time since work began on the proposedISO 45001 standard for OHS management systems that is being developed by ISO PC283 CommitteeASSE is administrator of the technical advisory group (TAG) to ANSI on this international standard.

Discussion of late has focused on the standard's future and its potential publishing schedule, and many are wondering when the next draft international standard (DIS) will be released for review. The last ballot of the standard took place during May 2016. Since then, ISO PC283 has focused on addressing more than 3,000 comments received over a series of meetings.

The most recent meeting was held in Vienna in February 2017. The focus during this meeting was resolving and addressing the remaining comments and preparing a second draft standard (DIS2). DIS2 will likely be issued sometime in spring 2017, and ASSE will then distribute it to the TAG for additional comments and discussion. The TAG will then prepare the comments and voting position for ANSI.

At this stage, we do not expect to see new comments that have not already been addressed in some manner. The exception could be new text that has been added because of the comment disposition process used in Austria. At this point, the U.S. TAG expects to place much of its focus on the annex materials. The annex materials provide an interpretation of existing requirements and their implementation. This is critical for the U.S. since it has been suggested that we need to focus less on changing the requirements and more on what the requirements mean and how it affects ISO 45001 implementation within an organization.

Another item of interest is the recent reaffirmation of ANSI/ASSE Z10. Many debates have centered on the future of the Z10 standard once ISO 45001 is published. The Z10 Accredited Standards Committee and ASSE (as secretariat) believe that the standard has value, especially since it was a base document used in drafting ISO 45001. This development reflects a commitment to systems standards in the U.S. and further demonstrates that investing in management systems implementation is a worthwhile endeavor that will soon carry greater weight globally.

The OSH community has discussed several issues since ISO 45001 has moved closer to reality:

  1. Will training programs addressing the proposed standard emerge? Yes, and it is likely that many organizations will provide training and consultation on the standard once it is published. ASSE is offering training. Vic Toy was an instructor in the inaugural offering of the program, which sold out (nearly 100 attendees) at the recently completed SeminarFest. Most attendees were from business and industry, which is a good indicator of interest from business leaders and the OSH community overall, and a signal that OSH professionals should be preparing now for the standard.
  2. Will outside certifying bodies and/or registrars perform certification (conformity assessment) against the standard once it is published? We believe so. Some of these groups are preparing services similar to those offered for ISO 9000/9001 and ISO 14000/14001. The TAG believes conformity assessment activities will drive interest and implementation of the standard.
  3. What is the future of OHSAS 18000/18001? This has been a source of debate within the TAG and on the international level as well. We believe some type of implementation system will maintain OHSAS for a specific period of time. Then, OHSAS may be withdrawn. However, this is our personal view; only time will tell once ISO 45001 is approved, published and used.
  4. What is the schedule for the standard's release and approval? ISO recently released a revised publication schedule, which is, of course, subject to change.
  5. How are U.S.-based OSH professionals reacting to the standard? How about the global OSH community? Interest has been high and positive. Numerous articles and related materials have been released in recent months discussing the standard and its potential positive affect on the workplace. In addition, the global OSH community is positive about the pending standard and supportive of its implementation. Specifically, ASSE's Professional Safety published an excellent article in December 2016, “Managing Ergonomics: Applying ISO 45001 as a Model." The authors of that article (Walt Rostykus and Winnie Ip) also have a video discussing implementation of 45001 as it relates to musculoskeletal disorders.

The U.S. TAG plans to meet in the Chicago area in May to review the revised draft, develop any technical comments and finalize a voting position on the draft. Interested stakeholders can attend the meeting and should contact ASSE's Tim Fisher for more information. You can also visit ASSE's dedicated ISO 45001 website for additional information. And, if you will be in Denver, CO, for ASSE's Safety 2017, consider attending Session #520 on Tuesday, June 20, to hear about the latest ISO 45001 developments.


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