Top management is responsible for many things imperative to the organization they run – financial success, legal and social responsibility. Thus the need to regard their employees as human capital, and invest in them through education, training and safety precautions is important. The introduction of ISO 45001 aims to replace and improve on the current BS OHSAS 18001 as well as 24 other national standards.
What would the key changes be?
The key differences for organizations will be the inclusion of not just employees but any workers within the organization, extending the field of responsibility for leaders. An emphasis as such will then be applied to leadership, with education needed to integrate the new methods into current leadership roles. The scope of leadership will also be extended to cover involving not just workers but external 3rd parties, such as investors. The additions of foresight and planning in all situations and circumstances will also require additional costs to cover the time taken to assess these situations. It won’t just cover obvious health and safety issue areas but all functions of a business.
For those organizations currently registered migration will be easier due to current experience with health and safety standards. There will be tools available to assist in the initial assessment of an organization’s current performance, creating a gap analysis and a starting point in which to create an improvement plan.
What about small businesses, or those not registered?
However, for those currently not registered but wish to be accredited, to implement ISO 45001 an organization may need to bring in a specialist to assist. This specialist would assess businesses with their initial assessment, and provide advice on how to improve current processes to implement the standard in order to be accredited. For smaller organizations, this additional cost may place restraints on their ability to implement the new standard correctly and efficiently.
Another cost which may put off small and medium business is that of training their staff. Just like when implementing strategies such as Value Stream Mapping, the need for employees/workers to understand their new roles within the strategy can be time and resource consuming. Some businesses may find it easier to just disregard the standard and continue with what they currently know, rather than learn new – even if the current frameworks are detrimental for their workers.
What about supply chains?
The biggest concern when implementing ISO 45001 is the implications on supply chains. There have been many documented cases where a disaster at a manufacturing plant has backlashed on to those it supplies to. For example, as mentioned in a previous blog post the Bangladesh factory fires. This could place constraints on organizations who do not have the resources or the finances to push through the standards into their supply chain or switch suppliers. It could also place constraints for those that use suppliers in countries who are hindered by local laws and cultures – particularly if the local area is not interested in participating in ISO standards accreditation.
In summary, ISO 45001 brings with it many benefits to the health and safety of an organization’s workforce. It will reduce the cost of poor governance, including fines for incidents and insurance payouts. It could even improve shareholder’s, and stakeholder’s confidence in the organization. It will take time and resources to adapt, but they will be outweighed by the long-term health benefits of an organization’s workers.