ISO 45001 – Occupational Health and Safety

ISO 45001 – Occupational Health and Safety

Insight on Occupational Health and Safety in context of Nepal

OHSAS 18001, Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series, is an internationally applied standard for occupation health and safety (OH&S) management systems. On March 12, 2018, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published the new ISO 45001 Standard for Occupational health and safety management systems. This enable companies to manage Occupational health and safety risks and improve their approach to preventing injury and illness. Not only that this standard tells an organization to implement an occupational health and safety management system in an organization’s system as a part of its sustainability initiatives and ensure the work environment is safer and healthier for employees and relevant third parties while also improving profitability. Since the risk of ill-health and injury can result in a serious impairment of health or fatality to those working consequently, it is important for the organization to eliminate or minimize its Occupational health and safety risks by taking appropriate preventive measures. By adopting this standard an organization prevents the incident into a systematic and ongoing set of processes for improving its Occupational health and safety performance.

The international ISO 45001 standard specifies OH&S management system requirements and guidelines for implementing them in practice, thus giving organizations the tools to improve their Occupational health and safety management systems by preventing injury and health issues in a proactive way.

What is ISO 45001?

ISO 45001, Occupational health and safety management system is an International Standard that specifies requirements with guidance to enable an organization and proactively improve its Occupational health and safety performance in preventing injury and ill-health. This standard was published in 2018 in order to replace OHSAS 18001:2007. ISO 45001 is intended to be applicable to any organization regardless of its size, type and nature. All the requirements are intended to be integrated into an organization’s management processes. This standard enables an organization to integrate other aspects of health and safety related with worker wellness and well-being. However, an organization can be required by legal requirements to address such issues.

Benefits of ISO 45001

An ISO 45001 based Occupational health and safety management system will enable an organization to improve its Occupational health and safety performance by:

  • developing and implementing an Occupational health and safety policy and objectives
  • establishing systematic processes with its risks, opportunities and its legal requirements
  • determining the Occupational health and safety risks associated with its activities through eliminating and putting controls to minimize their potential effects
  • establishing legal and operational controls with requirements to manage its Occupational health and safety risks
  • increasing awareness of its Occupational health and safety risks
  • evaluating Occupational health and safety performance and improving through appropriate actions and
  • ensuring workers take an active role in Occupational health and safety matters.

In order to ensure an organization’s reputation is a safe place to work which can have more direct benefits, such as:

  • responding to regulatory compliance issues
  • reducing the overall costs of incidents
  • reducing the costs of disruption to operations
  • reducing the cost of insurance premiums
  • reducing absenteeism and employee turnover rates
  • recognition for achieving an international benchmark

Importance of ISO 45001

The importance of mitigating occupational health and safety hazards and preventing injuries in a workplace is one of the most important challenges that companies face. Among the biggest benefits of implementing an occupational health and safety management system is enhancement of company’s public image by being an ISO 45001 certified. It demonstrates that this company belongs to those businesses that cares for its employees’ health and safety at workplace. This leads to a better relationships with customers, public, and the community, but it also brings other benefits.

With a good image, many organizations can save money through the implementation of an Occupational Health & Safety Management System. This can be achieved through reducing incidents resulting in injuries and being able to obtain insurance at a more reasonable cost. When one is making the decision to implement an Occupational health and safety management system which is beneficial and cost control for the organization.

Who should acquire this Standard?

This standard is made in such a way that a big and small organization, non-profit organization, a charity, an academic institution, or a government department can adapt and adopt ISO 45001. By using a systematic approach to managing occupational health and safety will ultimately bring benefits to an organization as long as people who are working on its behalf or who are affected by its activities. The standard requires that Occupational health and safety risks are addressed and controlled. It also focuses on the risk based approach to the Occupational health and safety management system. Through which it ensures to be effective and being improved to meet an organization’s expectations. This risk based approach is consistent with the way organizations manage their other business risks and hence encourages the integration of the standard’s requirements into the organizations’ overall management processes.

Occupational Health and Safety in Context of Nepal

In 2017, The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) calculation says that there has been 2.78 million fatal accidents in a year at work and 374 million non-fatal injuries and illness every year around the world, as a result people have been absent from work. Occupational health and safety management system hopes to change this issue by providing guidelines for improving safety for workers in governmental agencies, industries and the stakeholders who are affected.

Industrial Organizations in Nepal are gradually being aware of the Occupation Health and Safety Management System – ISO 45001. It is very much clear that organizations are more interested towards this standard ISO 45001 which can facilitate them to identify and control safety risks, reduce the potential for accidents, improve overall performance and aid legal compliance but incomplete documentation of procedures can result in poor control over its processes with lack of control and measurement can hinder continuous improvement. Although being aware of the Standard organizations follow very little documentation and procedures in Occupation Health and Safety.

In Nepal, issues related to occupational health and safety occur due to the lack of adequate government policies, guidelines, laws, management initiative, corporate culture and eventually willingness of employees to work safely. Therefore it is vital that the government should come with a strong approach for OH&S policies with enforced rules and regulating bodies where occupational health and safety awareness should be given to help businesses build a culture within their factories and organizations.

A standard like ISO 45001, OH&S management system would help organizations to provide this framework for employee’s safety, reduce workplace risks and create better, safer working conditions in Nepal.

Therefore it’s high time for the government, along with industrial organizations, private sector professionals, academia, trade unions, workers and INGOs, NGOs to formulate an overarching Occupational Health and Safety framework along with administrative and enforcing bodies capable to meet international regulatory standards.

Still at present, our Labor Act 1992 and Labor Rules 1993 neither adequately address current Occupational Health and Safety problems faced by industrial workers nor does it sufficiently provides any standard procedure or system to ensure their good health and safety at workplace.

It is understood that no system is perfect but there is always a room for a continual improvement. Still this statement should not be held as an excuse for not having a robust Occupational Health and Safety Management System policy in place, especially when the well-being of our own national workforce is at stake.