ISO 45001 as a Competitive Advantage
ISO 45001 is the new international standard for Occupational Safety & Health released in March 2018. ISO 45001 is intended to replace OHSAS 18001 (internationally) and ANSI/AHIA Z10 (more in the US). While ISO 45001 is a voluntary standard, it is actually a really good idea at several levels. First, this standard requires that companies incorporate their health and safety programs into the overall management systems of an organization, which means upper management must take a strong leadership role in the OH&S systems and program. Second, it requires companies to take a much broader view of their OH&S responsibilities, for instance, considering how suppliers and contractors are managing their own risks as they relate to the company.
The benefits of adopting ISO 45001 are the same as those a company receives for implementing any good safety program: improved business performance, more consistent application of operating Best Practices, reduced incident rates improved employee engagement and so forth.
But an often over-looked benefit of recognized standards is the credibility that companies gain from adoption. There are very few websites of manufacturing, construction and mining companies that do not claim safety as a core part of their cultures. Some of them actually mean it. But the difference between saying it in marketing literature and living it through adoption of an ISO standard is equivalent to your high schooler claiming to be doing well in school and the report card coming home with all A’s – the outside validation lends credibility.
When a company is recognized as ISO 45001 compliant, then customers, employees, regulators and other societal stakeholders have a way to gauge the actual level of commitment. And that gets back to the commercial advantages of adopting – lots of companies say they value safety, now you have a way to actually prove it.
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