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From OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001: the latest progress on the ISO draft standard on occupational health and safety

The future international standard on occupational health and safety management is taking shape.

The 58 countries have recently been consulted on a second version of the draft text. ISO 45001 will be released in 2017, replacing OHSAS 18001. Between March and May 2015, nearly 60 countries participating in this international work, steered by the British Standards Institution, have been consulted on a second version of the draft (known as a CD). Each country has put forward its vision of occupational health and safety management. France has indeed done so, actively supported by the bodies and professionals involved in this international work via the AFNOR standardization committee. Since the work began in October 2013, the French deliberations – open to all – have included companies, professional organizations, trade unions, certification bodies, prevention bodies, universities, consultants, the General Directorate of Labour, etc. The future international standard will enable organizations to put an occupational health and safety management system in place (OH&S).

But what do we know about the content of this future voluntary standard? “This new draft is a major advance compared with OHSAS 18001, which serves partly as a basis for the work: all participants are working to ensure that the future ISO standard places employees and their representatives at the core of the OH&S management system,” explains Florence Saillet, Secretary of the “Occupational health and safety at work” committee. The goal is therefore to go further than the standard developed by BSI in 1999 and then revised in 2007. “Workers are now the central focus of all stages proposed by the management system currently under preparation. The same applies to risk prevention. The future ISO 45001 introduces the notion of active participation by employees and their representatives in risk prevention and the notion of proactive management of OH&S risks.”

Another new feature: ISO 45001 will have a high level structure (HLS) already adopted for the new versions of ISO 9001 (quality) and ISO 14001 (environment) which were published in September 2015. The idea is to facilitate combined approaches, with a large number of common requirements by the standards that will make up this new chart-topping Quality-Safety-Environment (QSE) trio.