The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has nearly completed its three-year process to introduce a new global standard for occupational health and safety management systems. It takes into account other international and national standards and was first proposed in 2013. Since that time, a group of occupational health and safety experts from over 55 countries and numerous liaison bodies have been crafting the document and seeking input from interested parties in an effort to assist organizations by providing an up-to-date and clear framework for businesses of all sizes to manage and reduce workplace risks and improve the safety of workers across a wide variety of industries.

Organizations will already have health and safety programs in place with the same objectives as those fostered by the new standard. However, it is anticipated that those aspects of ISO 45001 which are relevant to an organization will be capable of being incorporated into, and adapted for, these existing programs.

Expected features include an emphasis on participation of senior management and the inclusion of occupational health and safety as part of the organization’s business strategy and the ability to demonstrate compliance on an overall risk-based approach, including tracking performance indicators on a systematic basis.

In order to secure the widest possible input, the second committee draft of the standard is out for comments. Canadian comments can be offered until May 1, 2016, with an intended publishing date of October 2016.

According to the ISO, ISO 45001 will not only improve employer and worker health and safety, but it will address many legal requirements for businesses. It has been written for compatibility with other management systems standards, such as ISO 14000 (environmental management) and ISO 31000 (risk management).

For those in the industry who do business globally, and even for those who don’t, it is definitely worth putting this standard on your radar screen for the future. Consider how you can best make use of any relevant aspects of it, and do so sooner rather than later.