ISO 45001 and the evolution of occupational health and safety management systems (OHSMS)
This IOSH paper highlights the implications and importance of the new ISO 45001 standard in tackling global health and safety failures, outlining the history of occupational health and safety management systems (OHSMSs); the role of international standards; the ISO standards process; progress on ISO 45001; and the aims for OSH management worldwide. IOSH is the Chartered body for health and safety professionals, with around 47,000 members in over 130 countries, and was an ISO Category A Liaison member of ISO PC 283, the ISO committee developing the OHSMS standard, ISO 45001. In order to assess the evolution of the systems approach to health and safety management, this paper refers to relevant OHSMS guides and standards and IOSH’s involvement in a Delphi study into health and safety performance, used to help inform work to refresh the UK’s ‘Successful health and safety management’ (HSG65). It also draws on the Institution’s ISO Category A Liaison work on ISO 45001. This method provides useful context and insight into current health and safety management systems thinking, with the Delphi study results helping to reinforce the importance of good leadership, sound business processes and a skilled
workforce, operating in an open and trusting environment. It also provides examination of the process for developing ISO 45001, the emphasis on leadership and context, and exploration of its potential for raising health and safety standards worldwide. The author concludes by discussing the content of ISO 45001,
its similarities and differences to OHSAS 18001, and the implications for organisations adopting the new standard and for health and safety professionals assisting them. Challenges and opportunities for standardisation and the future integration of management system standards through the use of mechanisms such as the ‘high-level structure’, supported by topic-specific details, are also examined, together with the hoped-for outcomes. Key words: management systems; international standards; ISO 45001.
2 History of the systems approach
The changing world of work has meant there is increasing growth in globalisation, industrialisation, technological advances, work intensification, the service and knowledge sectors and complex supply chains. The make-up of the workforce has also changed, with increases in the older age-group, female, informal and migrant workers; and a greater variety in working arrangements and employment types. All of these changes have health and safety implications and need to be managed properly. In terms of effective risk management, it is generally accepted that there are benefits from adopting a formal systems approach to managing health and safety at work, based on the ‘plan, do, check, act’ (PDCA) management model, which encompasses a continual improvement goal. Total Quality Management, an integrated approach to business management, grew in the 1990s, driven by customer service values and continual improvement, rather than solely by loss prevention. This approach was promoted by the UK regulator’s ‘Successful health and safety management’, HSG65.3, 4 The management system model for health and safety is now recognised by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and standards bodies worldwide. In 2011, the ILO stated that “Implementation of OSH management systems is critical in helping to reduce occupational accidents, diseases and deaths.” The ILO also noted that “The management systems approach to occupational safety and health has become popular and has been introduced in many workplaces during the last decade.”5 A number of OHSMSs and guidelines have developed over the last 25 years, some certifiable and some sector-specific. Essentially, these require organisations to identify the issues to be addressed; set the direction and standards; plan what needs to be done and organise who will undertake it; equip them to do so; undertake the action; check completion and efficacy; and learn the lessons from this exercise to improve continually.6 Compliance with certifiable standards is demonstrated through audit by a certifying body, which should be suitably accredited. In the UK, for example, this would be by the UK Accreditation Service. In 1996 the British Standards Institute (BSI) created BS 8800, Guide to occupational health and safety management, and in 1999 worked with other national standards bodies, certification bodies and specialist consultancies to develop OHSAS 18001, which fulfilled the growing demand for a certifiable standard. In 2001, following a review of over 20 systems worldwide, the ILO produced generic guidelines ILO-OSH 2001,7 intended to be non-certifiable and able to be applied at national and organisational level. The earlier BS 8800 guide was converted into BS 18004 in 2008 to provide supporting guidance to BS OHSAS 18001. And now, in 2018, a new international and certifiable standard, Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements with guidance for use, is published.8 Looking briefly at the legal context, in the UK, the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, section 2 (employer general duties) outlined the need for a health and safety policy and statement covering the arrangements for implementing this. This was followed by the European Framework Directive in 1989 (89/391/EEC),9 Section II, which places duties on employers to take measures to protect workers. The UK transposed this via the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992, which contained regulation 5 on health and safety arrangements and had an accompanying approved code of practice, which covered planning, organisation, control and review. In this paper, the focus is on an early example of regulator guidance for managing health and safety, the UK’s Successful health and safety management guide HSG65, first published in 1991. It was intended as a practical guide for directors, managers, health and safety professionals and employee representatives. It covered: policy; organising; planning and implementing; measuring performance; audit and reviewing performance (POPMAR). It also required a ‘feedback loop’ to ensure continual improvement. In recent years, the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been engaged in simplifying its guidance for duty holders. In order to help make HSG65 more accessible and user-friendly, a Delphi Study was used to identify and confirm the key elements deemed essential to effective occupational health and safety management for inclusion in a simplified, revised version.
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