The development of ISO 45001 for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems had a significant setback early this year. By a narrow margin the international committee voted to refer it for additional review and comment. ISO 45001 is being developed to replace OHSAS 18001:2007.
The effect of the no vote was discussed at the June 2016 international meeting held in Toronto. Also discussed in Toronto were the 3000 comments that had been made internationally on the draft standard. The development process is proceeding slowly because many of the participants are still learning how ISO management systems work. These include traditional OH&S professionals and those representing organized labor.
Traditional OH&S Professionals
Traditional OH&S professionals make up a large portion of the members of the US TAG and the international committee. Most of these members are new to management systems and do not understand how management systems work. OH&S professionals are quite familiar with “compliance” to OSHA laws. However, they sometimes struggle to understand that the purpose of a management system is to improve performance over time. As a result the proposed Standard has become prescriptive including:
- Requirements to use a Hierarchy of Controls when addressing OH&S hazards
- Requiring more documentation than necessary
- Inserting requirements that do not add value
Organized Labor s a participant in the development of ISO 45001 and represent over 1 million members nationally. One of the roles of organized labor has been to help workers negotiate contracts between labor and management on compensation, benefits and workplace safety. Labor has adopted the position that ISO 45001 should be a “workers’ rights” standard. Their approach to providing input to the ISO 45001 development process is like a contract negotiation.
This has created tension at both the national and the international levels. Labor views the rest of the TAG as representing “management”. When others on the TAG propose language that is not aligned with labors’ position, they voice strong opposition. More then once labor representatives have accused other TAG members of wanting to “kill workers”.
What’s Next for ISO 45001
A committee was formed in Toronto to create the second draft international standard ISO/DIS2 45001:201X which is expected to be issued in the late fall to early winter. We remain cautiously optimistic that both traditional OH&S and those representing labor will become more informed about the purpose of management systems and how they help organizations improve OH&S performance. This in turn will help them participate more effectively in the consensus process. If all goes well, a final international standard could be expected in mid-2017.