What consequences of the negative vote on the ISO 45001 draft standard?

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After the international enquiry on the ISO 45001 draft standard on “Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems” ended last May with a negative vote, 114 experts from 65 participant countries and 13 observer countries met (5-10 June, Mississauga, Canada) at the instigation of ISO PC 283’s working group 1 to analyse the 3000 or so comments received and discuss the action to be taken regarding the draft. 

It is impossible to know the number of comments discussed during this week of meetings, to the extent that the objections expressed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the points considered important by the leader of the working group were discussed as a whole. 

Long discussions were held on the definition of a worker and on the need to state explicitly in the standard that the legal and other requirements must be complied with above all. Indeed, this is a standard on a “system” of occupational health management. It is not a standard on occupational health, nor on worker protection, nor on human resource management. It can in no case substitute for the law.

Among the decisions taken at the end of the June meeting, note:

  • The resolution proposed by France and passed unanimously, asserting that this standard must be able to apply to all enterprises, including SMEs, which makes it necessary to simplify the text.
  • The decision of PC 283 to submit the draft to a second DIS vote with a view to its publication as a standard, and hence not to publish the current draft in the form of a Technical Report. This solution was foreseeable to the extent that more than 66% of the votes at the DIS stage were positive. 
  • The creation of a new sub-group of 11 experts (including France), group leaders and the leader of WG1 to propose follow-up action on the 3000 comments. 
  • The second meeting of ISO PC 283’s working group 1, scheduled for October, which will examine the proposals of this sub-group. 

It seems that the future ISO 45001 standard, initially scheduled for the end of 2016, needs some more time before achieving the consensus necessary for its publication. The schedule has therefore been redefined, with a second DIS forecast for March 2017 and publication between June and November 2017. 

As a reminder, in 2013 PC 283 had very optimistically planned to produce this standard in three years, a deadline which will definitely be exceeded. ISO accepts a 9-month time overrun, so publication would be needed in June 2017 at the latest. We feel sure that a tolerance will be granted until the end of 2017, if necessary, to achieve a sound and consensual document.

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