ISO 45001 is the kid on the block, having only been introduced earlier this year. With almost seventy countries involved in its development, the new accreditation is still a rare sight.

ISO 45001 replaces OHSAS 18001, the existing safety management system for Occupational Health and Safety. However, OHSAS 18001 will remain valid for another three years, prompting many organisations to ask: Why rush? Is there a need for ISO 45001 accreditation in the current year?

There’s no doubting that OHSAS 18001 has saved countless lives in the workplace – however, even with its widespread implementation, more than two million people still die each year as a result of work-related activities. And there’s more: calculations by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) show that there are an additional 374 million non-fatal work-related illnesses and injuries every year.

ISO 45001 takes many cues from OHSAS 18001, with many similar requirements, but businesses who have opted into acquiring the accreditation early have discovered that at its heart, it is a very different animal. Taking a more proactive approach than the largely reactive OHSAS 18001, ISO 45001’s crowning achievement is the holistic model of OH&S it fosters in its implementation.

Designed to encourage a culture of safety in the workplace, ISO 45001 gives employees a bigger stake in the accreditation by requiring managers and employees to work together in order to implement the Safety Management Plan. Also necessary is training and education for employees to recognise risks, along with a requirement to share risk assessments with the workforce, with employee input encouraged.

It takes a village to raise a child, so the saying goes. And with ISO 45001, it seems it takes a workplace to achieve an accreditation.

A workplace-wide culture of safety will be, for some managers, the only reason they need to begin the process of becoming ISO 45001-accredited. For many managers, a workplace where each individual employee is aware of the risks and hazards and plays an active part in preventing them is a dream come true. There are other benefits too, with ISO 45001 being far more easily integrated into other ISO standards thanks to its AnnexSL structure.

The process of becoming ISO 45001-accredited was more than an afternoon’s work for us at ClearView Communications. To achieve the standards necessary and secure our place in the top 3% of security companies who are ISO 45001-accredited we gave our OH&S procedures a complete revamp, bringing them up to date with the new standards required by ISO 45001. But just updating procedures is not enough – ISO 45001 works by ensuring continuous improvement, with thorough analysis and testing after any OH&S incident to identify the root cause, then eliminate it.

Achieving ISO 45001 required a change in how we think about safety in the workplace – but one that has already proven fruitful, with the changes we made to prepare for ISO 45001 also helping us secure the Constructionline Gold accreditation along the way. With its holistic approach to OH&S and constantly evolving systems, we think the future of OH&S has finally arrived with ISO 45001.