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Unions urged to lobby for ISO 45001 changes

European trade unions have been called on to lobby national bodies reviewing the planned ISO 45001 safety and health standard to improve requirements for worker involvement.

Unions urged to lobby for ISO 45001 changes
Image credit: ©iStock/daseugen

A policy brief published by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI)  says unions should also press for the standard to include explicit requirements for employers to provide all protective equipment free to workers.

ISO 45001, which is due to replace the current OHSAS 18001 standard before the end of the year, is now in draft international standard (DIS) form and national standards bodies can make changes before the final standard is issued.

The briefing paper echoes previous union concerns that certification to the new standard could be used by regulators as evidence of an organisation’s compliance with safety and health regulation or of a sound OSH culture.  

But the standard only evaluates systems and is “driven by process rather than outcome”, says the briefing; it has no means of assessing an organisation’s safety and health performance.

“The process of seeking to achieve certification to the ISO45001 standard may impose bureaucratic requirements that are not a necessary part of good health and safety management,” it warns.

It says the draft standard’s approach to worker  training, consultation and information is “at variance” with the requirements of the EU Workplace Health and Safety Framework Directive, which outlines the minimum health and safety requirements that employers (and employees) must adhere to and is the overarching regulation from which much European OSH regulation flowed.

The paper acknowledges that enhanced clauses on worker involvement in the DIS mark a “considerable step forward” from earlier ISO 45001 drafts, but notes that in places it still “emphasises the need to make employers ‘aware’ as oppose to consulting them.”

It notes that the United Nations’ International Labour Organisation (ILO) published a paper on the draft standard in February identifiying areas of concern including the lack of any specification for certified organisations to provide training and personal protective equipment free of charge.

Labour organisations such as the ILO, the European Trade Union Confederation and national unions do not have voting rights on the DIS but they can make comments to the national bodies evaluating the draft.

“They should call for stronger worker involvement within the standard;” says the briefing, written for the ETUI by Hugh Robertson, senior policy officer for health and safety at the UK Trade Union Congress. “In particular they should ask for even stronger wording on issues such as the independence of safety representatives, paid time off for them to undertake their activities and for training (for both representatives and workers), and the need for meaningful consultation and participation in all health and safety issues.

 

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Comments

  • In UK there are already 2

    Permalink Submitted by A.R Farooq on 20 April 2016 - 03:20 pm

    In UK there are already 2 regulation that emphasis the rights of employees repersentatives and make it obligatory to employer to consult employees, As everyone know regulation is much powerful then iso45001. In other hand,
    In internatinal level, already ILO issued Health and safety convection (c155) which make it legal duty to employer to provide PPE free of charge, and to provide training and supervision. Unoions should not be worry because already the law( which is more important then ISO45001) in their side.

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  • These concerns on employee

    Permalink Submitted by Paul Thompson on 20 April 2016 - 05:23 pm

    These concerns on employee information, consultation and participation are adequately covered in uk legislation, perhaps less so in other European countries. Quite right that a management system covers the key processes, which is what is certifiable.

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  • This highlights the problems

    Permalink Submitted by Andy May on 20 April 2016 - 08:14 pm

    This highlights the problems of designing a system by a vast and diverse committee. Good employers will continue to do the right thing and look after their employees regardless of any ISO they may be certificated to.

    If people think that ISO 45001 is going to be some great saviour for the health and safety world, wake up and smell the coffee! It needs a new approach and this standard is already out of date.

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  • I think the request for more

    Permalink Submitted by dalene on 21 April 2016 - 03:05 pm

    I think the request for more focus of employee involvement, and therefore accountability for OHS, is valid. Any standard worth certification will have to meet legal compliance: issue of free PPE seems mute, but providing training for competency: a real problem.

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  • Further to my response on 20

    Permalink Submitted by Paul Thompson (119335) on 26 April 2016 - 09:44 am

    Further to my response on 20 April 2016, I note that in the draft, sections 5.2 Policy (Comms with workers) and 5.4 Participation and Consultation (engagement) and 7.4 Information and communication (Quality) which, if anything, appears to strengthen worker involvement rather than weaken it. But I do agree the draft ISO content feels more like a guidance than a certified standard. I guess it is not going to reach the detail of the recently withdrawn MHSWR ACoP.

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  • This sums up the difference

    Permalink Submitted by George H on 2 June 2016 - 10:31 am

    This sums up the difference between a "standard" and the "the law".

    reply

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