New World Safety Standard: ISO 45001
ISO 45001 is the new occupational health and safety management system standard created by the International Organization for Standardization in March 2018. The new standard is the culmination of four years of research and development by safety experts across the globe.
One new way ISO 45001 approaches safety management systems is by examining the full context of a safety program, meaning it considers and prioritizes the ways a safety program is affected by local regulations, public perception of the company and its values, and customer trust.
The new standard also offers a guide to understanding the costs and benefits of a safety program. This understanding can be especially important when a corporate safety program is viewed as an expense where costs can be cut to improve the bottom line. By connecting the benefits of a program with the benefits of protecting workers, the new standard helps ensure the necessary funds are provided for improving safety and addressing risk factors.
It also emphasizes more connectedness by linking every part of the company with the safety program. It works by demonstrating every person’s role in keeping every worker safe, from the CEO to the workers in the field. It also displays the need for every department to understand their connection between their functions and safety. Without this vertical and horizontal alignment, a safety program won’t be as effective as it can be.
The new ISO 45001 safety management standard also raises the bar of leadership for safety professionals and sets the stage for the role of safety professionals in the future global economy. Under the guidance of the new standard, safety professionals will need to lead in justifying the safety program budget, organizing and clearly defining safety priorities, and influencing not only employees who fall under their management, but also peers and upper manager to help everyone understand their roles in maintaining an effective safety program.
The new standard also emphasizes safety professionals’ roles in addressing safety risks even when they are out of their direct control. These risks must be communicated with departments and leaders who are directly responsible for worker safety, such as operations managers. Safety professionals should clearly define those responsibilities and ensure that they are being met. It also means the safety professional carries the force of the company’s safety policy and is a spokesperson for that policy both internally and externally.
While many U.S. companies may not be required to adopt ISO 45001, that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from it. Understanding ISO 45001 will help safety professionals keep up with the changes in the industry on the global scale. The standard can keep safety professionals up-to-date on the best practices to develop effective quality safety programs.
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