Health and safety at work likely isn’t an issue that’s top of mind on a daily basis. Yet, for millions of workers across the globe, their jobs can put them in some extremely high-risk environments where valuing safety can mean the difference between life and death.

Organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Day for Safety and Health at Work aims to raise awareness of the importance of occupational health and safety and build a culture of prevention in the workplace. This year’s theme looks to the future for continuing these efforts through major changes such as technology, demographics, sustainable development, and changes in work organization.

To help organizations reduce work-related accidents, injuries and diseases, ISO developed the world’s first International Standard for occupational health and safety (OH&S). ISO 45001Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements with guidance for use, provides a framework to increase safety, reduce workplace risks and enhance health and well-being at work, enabling an organization to proactively improve its OH&S performance.

Applicable to all organizations, regardless of size, industry or nature of business, the standard is designed to be integrated into an organization’s existing management processes and follows the same high-level structure as other ISO management system standards, such as ISO 9001 (quality management) and ISO 14001 (environmental management).

ISO 45001 is the most visible part of ISO’s solutions for health and safety at work. The scope of workplace health and safety will be expanded in the future to include psychological health with a new standard in development. ISO 45003, Occupational health and safety management – Psychological health and safety in the workplace – Guidance, is expected to be published in 2021.

ISO has a multi-faceted approach to the workplace comprising the wide-ranging portfolio of numerous technical committees and subcommittees. Other ISO standards whose implementation can increase safety and promote health in the workplace address topics as varied as protective clothing and equipment, equipment for firefighting and fire protection, welding, tractors and machinery for agriculture and forestry, competency requirements for crane inspectors, risk management in cold workplaces and subjects such as safer ship recycling and the manufacturing and handling of nanomaterials.

By Elizabeth Gasiorowski-Denis