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Setting the standard for five years

Since its launch in 2018, the first international standard for occupational safety and health (OSH) management systems has played an important role in promoting workplace safety and health throughout the world.

The ISO 45001 standard celebrates its fifth birthday on Sunday 12 March. It is intended to enable organisations to prevent work-related injury and ill health, provide safe and healthy workplaces and continually improve OSH performance.

To achieve certification, organisations need proportionate safety and health management systems throughout their workforce and supply chains.

The most recent International Organization for Standardization (ISO) survey estimates that nearly 300,000 certificates for ISO 45001 have been issued in 193 countries.


IOSH was involved on the Technical Committee (ISO/TC 283) responsible for creating the standard and continues to influence and support related developments.

As a Category A liaison organisation, IOSH is part of task groups focused on issues such as:

  • OSH risks from climate change
  • emerging OSH themes
  • small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • communications, including publicising the benefits of the standard and the role of the Technical Committee.

Our ISO 45001 online hub helps OSH professionals find out about more about implementing the standard in their organisation.

Dr Ivan Williams Jimenez, Policy Development Manager at IOSH, said: "Through this relatively short period of time, ISO 45001 has proven to be an effective mechanism to support organisations on their journey for better anticipating, adapting and responding to OSH risks.

"At IOSH, we strongly support a systemic approach to managing OSH that not only helps OSH practitioners to embed a continual improvement process, but incentivises top management’s hands-on experience on OSH matters."

In February 2023, ISO 45002 was published. This newly published guidance document provides explanations and practical examples for businesses of all sizes on how to manage risks and opportunities in their OSH management systems.

Ruth Wilkinson, Head of Policy at IOSH, said: "This document not only gives practical guidance on how to implement the requirements in ISO 45001 in any type of organisation, but more importantly, it offers users a wide scope for benchmarking and learning from best practice examples."


More developments are coming from the Technical Committee. Guidelines for organisations focusing on the prevention and management of infectious diseases is due for publication later in 2023. A guidance document on performance evaluation is also expected at the beginning of 2024.

International standards can also play a critical role for pressing matters such as the challenges of climate adaptation and mitigation. It is for this reason that IOSH’s representatives will take part in a new task group that will produce guidelines on:

  • OSH risks from climate change 
  • how organisations can improve their preparedness and response strategies.

"It's important that the ISO standards and guidance documents keep pace with the challenges and threats of climate change and the impacts it can have for workers, occupations, businesses operations, supply chains and industries," added Ruth.

"The impact of climate change is becoming an increasingly important focus in the work of many health and safety professionals. Being part of this new task group provides us with an opportunity to contribute to the development of practical guidance that can support businesses and health and safety professionals around the world to respond to these challenges."

Dr Ivan Williams Jimenez
Policy Development Manager
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