ISO describe it as providing “a robust and effective set of processes for improving work safety in global supply chains” and continues “designed to help organisations of all sizes and industries, the new International Standard is expected to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses around the world.” While not adopted by all UK organisations, BS OHSAS 18001 (a fore-runner to the new incarnation) served this purpose as a British Standard.

Using calculations from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2017,  the ISO also highlight that potentially 2.78 million fatal accidents occur at work yearly, equating to 7,616 deaths every day or 317 an hour.

To give this figure some context in 2016/17 the fatal injuries to workers figure published by the Health and Safety Executive was 137. While of course one death is too many, the figure provides a reminder that good health and safety doesn’t happen by accident.

It is true that in both the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA)’s European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks surveys (ESENER-1 and ESENER-2) the UK scores highly in, “Document explaining responsibilities and procedures on health and safety available to workers.” This in the past has been labelled “red tape” and a burden (which it can be, as well as providing a false reassurance, if poorly designed, delivered and implemented), but from an output perspective it brands our health and safety performance as World Class and aspirational.

ESENER-2 also puts the UK as the highest scorer with, “Procedure to support employees returning to work after a long-term sickness absence”, so while still a developing strand, occupational health and wellbeing are recognised.

As with all good standards and organisational performance measures the need for continual improvement is an enduring theme. Certainly it is a sentiment we are seeing in our customers with even greater senior management engagement and culture development around health, safety and wellbeing. We are also in the throes of transitioning over to the new ISO 45001 standard, it will be interesting to see the interest and uptake for those not yet invested in the process.   

Greg Davies