Global body the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has been working for four years on implementing a new global standard in Health and Safety. ISO 45001 (which replaces OHSAS 18001) was finally published on 12th March 2018, and engagement with stakeholders and employees is at its heart.

The British Standards Institute (BSI) represents the ISO in the UK. It says that in adopting the recommendations and becoming compliant on day one, BSI was “the first large organisation in the world to do so”.

In fact, 11 companies have already achieved the standard, and include small companies such as OPG, a Scottish family firm that specialises in fleet vehicle graphics, to large organisations such as construction and infrastructure companies Interserve, Colarail and Morgan Sindall.

Sneaking ahead of the game, they worked with BSI to identify what provisions were likely to be in the final standard and adopted them ahead of its publication. For the rest of us, they represent proof that achieving the new standard need not be too arduous.

ISO 45001, like the standard that it is replacing, sets out what is needed for a successful health and safety regime at companies. But what is new is a fresh emphasis on “engagement” to ensure that cultures are changing and messages are getting across.

This was key for construction giant Morgan Sindall, for instance; director of safety, health, environment and quality Martin Worthington says: “We have engagement with our people through our mental health service, for example,” he says.

“We don’t just communicate facts about the service to them – a one-way process. We also ask them to give feedback on specific issues, which constitutes consultation, and prompts feedback and participation from them.”

So changing organisational behaviour and company culture are drivers behind the new provisions. The Cumbernauld-based 150-employee division of multinational firm OKI points out that adapting to the new standards makes commercial sense, too.

Says Alan McBride, senior engineer, compliance and quality for OKI UK, “We felt certification would not only help the mental and physical wellbeing of our staff, but also bring commercial and reputational benefits, and protect the business and its executives legally.”

It’s an encouraging development that means that Health and Safety is not simply about box-ticking and reluctant compliance.

It’s about real engagement that means getting the most out of your workforce and growing your business by being seen as a responsible brand with whom people wish to trade.

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