This article is a follow-up to Chris J Ward's previous commentary on ISO 45001, Is the End of Globalization the End of International Standards?

A number of issues and questions are raised in the global scenario that is currently unfolding. Not least of which, and central to financial, practical, and moral leadership, is the following question:

How can businesses position themselves to take commercial advantage of the new climate of deregulation while protecting themselves, their reputation, and their stakeholders against claims for damages?

Will the new trading models be bilateral, plurilateral, or on an ad hoc basis?

In such a tumult of confusion, certainty will be a rare commodity.

At this point, it is hard to tell how clear guidelines could emerge such that global, regional, national, and local organizations would have a certain benchmark of attainment so that they can position themselves favorably to trade with others.

What Are the Key Changes in DIS 2?

Here is an extract of our table showing how DIS 2 differs from DIS 1 (see the full table here):

ITEM

LINE No.

REQUIREMENT

1.

120

Worker definition removed

2.

181 - 186

New background outline

3.

187 - 200

Simplified "Aims of OHSMS"

4.

201

Success factors: revision to emphasize "worker consultation"

5.

222

Success factor added: "compliance with its legal/other requirements"

Many of the amendments extend the remit of the standard. For example, "workers" now includes all people within an organization. The emphasis will be on leadership; training; and developing, measuring, and monitoring performance. Hazards will now include situations and circumstances, which will require foresight and planning, not just reaction to incident-specific risks (learn about Leveraging Leading Indicators to Drive Safety). The need to consult both the workforce and interested third parties extends the scope and context, with the emphasis on effective consultation and mandatory KPIs.

With the idea that risks and opportunities apply not just to Health and Safety departments, but to the whole organization's business functions, the obvious question is, "Just who will be in control of the implementation? Will it require a more senior managerial (leadership) figure to be designated to apply and enforce it?"

Is This Standard Attainable, Desirable, or Divisive?

There are "A list" organizations that are committed and have the resources to meet the highest standards. For these, ISO 45001 is worthwhile, enshrining the principles of protection, consultation, enforcement, and development. However, the Achilles heel is in their ability to control conditions within their supply chain (recall, for instance, the Bangladesh factory collapse).

The "B list" organizations are those that are willing to subscribe to 45001 but may have constraints on their resources and access to qualified personnel. The notion of context is now critical for these "B listers" who, while aspiring to fulfill the requirements of the new standard, may be further hindered by local laws, traditions, and cultures. For them, the standard will be the desired aim, and while they may fall short of it, it could provide the impetus for change and improvement.

The "C listers" are those with limited resources or possible reluctance to change their practices. However, they may be forced to comply in order to satisfy their customers' requirements. Very often, these are small- and medium-sized businesses. They may well feel defeated by the perceived financial, training, and administrative costs imposed on them by the standard.

How Can the US and UK Create a Role for Standards Within Their Sphere of Influence?

Among the torrent of deregulation emanating from the new administration in the United States was an executive order requiring federal agencies to eliminate two regulations for each new one they introduced. Then came the abolition of regulation introduced under Obama under the “Clean Power Plan,” with President Trump declaring, “With today’s executive action, I am taking historic steps to reverse government intrusion and to cancel job-killing regulations.”

All countries should be aware of the effect of these boulders being tossed into the sea of trade as the ripples, if not tsunamis, impact their shores. The business case for deregulation, simplification, and administrative cost-cutting is beguiling, but what of obligations to their workforce?

Will supply chains need to be re-aligned? Is there a role for standardization given that layers of regulation are being brutally stripped away?

This poses the real question of who will trade with whom. Will the new model be of trade blocks adhering to their own favored standards covering production, liability, and OHSMS? But if the WTO rules (which do not have an OHS requirement) are the default position, what then? Is this the perfect storm or the perfect opportunity for 45001 to become a raft of calm on a sea of uncertainty? What of the "C listers" who perhaps are in the most urgent need of practical help and guidance?

Clearly, 45001 will provide a beacon to guide many through the uncertainty.

We will conduct a survey shortly to learn how businesses are planning to respond to the new standard.

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