ISO 45001 was created to address the global need to improve work related health and safety of workers. Led by the UK, the new international standard was developed with input from over 70 countries across five continents.

ISO 45001 specifies requirements for creating an occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system, with interpretation guidance to enable an organisation to improve OH&S performance in the workplace. The requirements in the standard are applicable to all organisations, irrespective of its size, activities.

Rather than see OH&S as a necessary burden, ISO 45001 encourages an organisation to see OH&S as an investment in their success. The standard uses risk-based thinking throughout to minimise negative outcomes, and emphasises that workers closest to a particular risk should be involved in the decision-making process. By managing risks and embracing the opportunity to improve OH&S performance, organizations create the environment for a healthier, safer and more engaged workforce.

The standard is applicable for all workers irrespective of their occupation and makes no distinction between whether they do paid or unpaid work. It was developed on the premise that the health and safety at work of a volunteer at a local community centre is as worthy as a full-time employee on a long-term contract.

Says BSI’s head of governance and resilience sector Anne Hayes: “ISO 45001 is about protecting workers at all levels of an organisation. From the Saturday part-timer on a zero-hours contract to the chief executive of an international conglomerate, this global standard was designed for the good of the organization and everyone who works for it.

“Occupational health and safety management doesn’t have to mean more paperwork and more red tape – on the contrary, ISO 45001 was created to make it easier for organizations to create and maintain a safe and healthy working environment for all. OH&S impacts every organization, irrespective of how big it is, the sector or where in the world it is located. As such, ISO 45001 is relevant to an organization with ten workers or a hundred thousand.”

In order to assist with the implementation of ISO 45001, BS 45002 Occupational health and safety management systems: general guidelines for the application of ISO 45001 has also launched. This British Standard describes the intent of individual clauses in ISO 45001 and provides guidance to help organisations implement an OH&S management system based on ISO 45001.

ISO 45001 replaces the British Standard OHSAS 18001; existing users of OHSAS 18001 have three years to transition to the new international standard. ISO 45001 aligns with other key international standards such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 for quality management and environmental management respectively.