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Don't delay on Health and Safety

Health and Safety 45001 / Monday 10th of April 2017

Why you shouldn’t delay on Health and Safety

I was at a Seminar last week when the subject was raised about the implementation of the new International Standard ISO45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS).

BSI, who were hosting the event for their Associate Consultants said that companies should not wait for publication of ISO45001 if they were thinking of, or in the process of implementing the current OHSAS18001 Standard.

They are not alone in this view. NQA are also encouraging continued implementation of OHSAS18001 “as a stepping stone to ISO45001”.

To my mind there are two reasons why business activities and Systems related to H&S should not be delayed.

Firstly, and most importantly, because it may impact you or those around you.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publish the grim toll on a regular basis.

Key figures for Great Britain (2015/16)

  • 1.3 million working people suffering from a work-related illness
  • 2,515 mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures (2014)
  • 144 workers killed at work
  • 72,702 other injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR
  • 621,000 injuries occurred at work according to the Labour Force Survey
  • 30.4 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury
  • £14.1 billion (est) cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions (2014/15)

Source HSE

I calculate that is one person killed or injured at work in Great Britain every 2 seconds, every day of the year.

Simply put, regardless of the contents of any new H&S Standards, you should not delay taking action and/or implement systems to reduce the risk of injury, accidents and ill health in the workplace.

Secondly, because OHSAS18001 is a perfectly sound and robust Health and Safety Management System.

What the introduction of an international Standard ISO will do, will give H&S Management Systems a global context and align structures with other ISO Standards.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), over 6300 people die each day, globally, from work related accidents or diseases. Nearly 2.3 million a year, so there is a clear logic to the introduction of a Management System to assist improvement in workplace Health and Safety.

But, disagreements in content have led to delays in the launch of ISO45001. So, as many regularly ask, when will it be implemented?

Well, its not exactly clear, but its now likely to be the end of 2017 at the earliest. See from ISO themselves. And with a transition period of three years, it could be the end of 2020 before some businesses who already have OHSAS18001 will need to adopt it.

Drafts are available now the Standard is at the Public Enquiry (DIS) stage and Final Draft (FDIS) stage. These are available from ISO directly, or your Standards retailer.

And what are the changes?

There are changes to or new sections on,

  • Context of the Organisation (what the organisation does, when, where and how)
  • Interested Parties (those who have an interest in the activities of the organisation)
  • Leadership, Policy
  • Planning (including risks and opportunities)
  • Operations and Performance
  • Improvement

These are similar to the changes which were made to ISO9001 and ISO14001 in the 2015 standard revisions. There is growing experience throughout the ISO Standards community (Business, Consultants and Certification Bodies) on interpreting and implementing these changes as companies transition through the 2015-2018 window.

But as we are finding in implementing the changes in these other ISO Standards on a day to day basis, the most challenging aspect is organisational understanding of the overarching concepts (or higher level clauses) now bought into the Standards. For example, Context of the Organisation, Interested Parties, Leadership.

Linked to this, is the absolute need for the Senior Management to be directly involved in creation of, and participation in the Management System. No longer will it be possible to say “speak to the Quality/ H&S Manager”. This aligns more logically with the most senior management being ultimately responsible for OHSAS within the business.

What is not changing is that the Management System will still fundamentally require that injury and ill health to workers is prevented and that a safe and healthy workplace is provided.

Legal and Regulatory Compliance will still be a cornerstone of the Standard. And of course, those working in H&S will be well versed in the concepts of Risk Assessment and the methodologies.

So, if you have already transitioned your ISO programmes, you will be well placed to transition OHSAS18001 to ISO45001 when it becomes available. Certification Bodies are already saying that they will looking to make transitions to ISO45001 as painless as possible for those putting OHSAS18001 Systems in place now.

If you are just starting out, then a Gap Analysis to is a good place to start. See what have you got in place and what more do you need. 

Of course, Spedan can help with that and much more in the way of OHSAS implementation and support. We can share our understanding and skills with you by Informing, Supporting and Sustaining you in your journey to OHSAS certification.

Alternatively, you might just want to make your workplace a safer place.

Either way, don’t delay.

Ring now on 01908 255525, Email me at chris@spedan.co.uk or Contact Us through the website.