ISO 45001 Update

Current status as at June 2016

The development of ISO 45001 has been beset by delays as consensus amongst participating national bodies has been difficult to achieve. This led to the aim that ISO 45001 would be issued in October 2016 and that the FDIS stage would be omitted from the process (that is, it was hoped that comments and issues relating to the DIS would be minor and enable the process to proceed directly to the issue of the standard). Unfortunately this did not happen. The volume of comments and concerns raised by participating national bodies was very high and consequently ISO 45001 and the process of further consultation, will require a significant amount of work, meaning that, at this stage, the very earliest we can expect the standard to be issued is Quarter 4, 2017. The current most optimistic timelines for the publication of interim consultation documents are:

Second Draft International Standard: December 2016

Final Draft International Standard: Quarter 3, 2017

Those of you that have been following the saga may recall that some time ago it was somewhat optimistically hoped that ISO 45001 could be issued without the publication of an FDIS. Not only has that not happened, but we’ve even ended up with 2 DIS publications instead of the usual one.

Impact on OHSAS 18001/ISO 45001 certification

If we work on the optimistic assumption that ISO 45001 is issued in Quarter 4 2017, then that will mean organisations that hold OHSAS 18001 certificates will have until Quarter 4 2020 to manage the transition and certify to the new standard (i.e. 3 years from the date of issue). However it should be borne in mind that once the new standard is issued, it will be a few months before most certification bodies have completed their own approval process with their Accreditation Body (e.g. UKAS), so the earliest certifications to the new standard will not now be until 2018.

Impact on OHSAS 18001 Lead Auditor Training

This year has seen an understandable reduction in the number of students taking the OHSAS 18001 Lead Auditor Course, as was the case the previous year with the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 courses. People that are in a position to delay taking the course are understandably keen to take the course after it incorporates ISO 45001. The likelihood now is that the earliest that an ISO 45001 Lead Auditor Course will be available will be Easter 2017. In considering whether to take the OHSMS Lead Auditor Course, it should be remembered that when ISO 45001 is issued, OHSAS 18001 is neither withdrawn nor rendered redundant. In fact, given that the 3 year transition process will now stretch to mid-2020, it now means that most organisations that hold OH&S management systems certification will remain certified to OHSAS 18001 until at least 2019, and most audits before that time will be to OHSAS 18001 rather than ISO 45001. So the current iteration of the course is far from on its last legs.

ISO 45001 Transition Training

It is anticipated that a 1 day IRCA approved transition module to ISO 45001 will be available sometime in the final quarter of 2017. This assumes the optimistic estimates for the issue of ISO 45001 do not suffer further delays.

Reasons for the delay?

The specific issues raised by the consultation process have not been published so, at this stage, I can only speculate. At earlier stages in the review process, the new Annex SL definition of Risk (the effect of uncertainty) was an area of disagreement and concern. It could be that these concerns were not sufficiently addressed by the DIS. Additionally, from my own perspective, I did note that the the level of participation and consultation required by the DIS had increased compared to OHSAS 18001 requirements, to the extent that virtually every decision and piece of information relating the the OHSMS was now required to be run past the workforce (including audit findings, management review outputs, OH&S objectives). I could see many people considering this as inordinate, excessive and impractical. Frankly it looked to me that the whims of some unions had been indulged too freely – but that’s pure speculation and opinion on my part.

Here’s a link to the IOSH statement on the delay. Since that time, there has been a meeting of the International Committee during which the target milestones for the second DIS and the FDIS were agreed.

Shaun Sayers

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