Category: Standard Development

Metrics Driven by “Intended Outcomes”

One of the ongoing discussions about OH&S management systems revolves around what it is exactly that the organization should be accomplishing.  In “standards speak” this is referred to as the “intended outcomes” of the OH&S management system.

In my conversations with professionals in the field, there seems to be a consensus that the overall goal – “intended outcome” – of an OH&S management system is either protecting the health of workers or worker safety.  How this goal is phrased, in terms of health or safety, seems to depend primarily on whether one views oneself as an “occupational health professional” (i.e. industrial hygienist) or a “safety professional”.

Interestingly, the goal of an OH&S management system is often articulated in the negative, rather than the positive, as “prevention of worker injury and illness.”

Why is this important?

It is important because how the goal is phrased often drives what outcomes are measured and tracked by the organization.

If the goal is prevention of worker injury and illness, then the outcome metrics selected focus almost exclusively on injury and illness rates.

For more about the use of management system metrics, check out my article in the November 2014 issue of the Synergist –  Selecting Management System Metrics.


December 8, 2014 | 0 Comments More

The Scope of an OH&S Management System

One of the important issues in the development of the new Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) management system standard – ISO 45001 – is what the scope of the standard should be.

In other words – When is “Health & Safety” considered “Occupational Health & Safety”?

The answer is – It depends and it is evolving.

An important consideration in drafting ISO 45001 needs to be the changing nature of work and employment.

The model of “work” at the heart of much of the current OH&S legislation is full-time employment in manufacturing jobs.

That model of work is obsolete.

Last week, an article in the Tampa Bay Times reported that “Canada is rapidly becoming a nation of part-timers.”  It went on to state that over the past year, full-time employment declined by 3,100 positions while part-time work jumped by 118,500.

This trend is not isolated to Canada.  The same is true in the United States.

To read more about this, check out my article, Drafting a Modern OHS Management System Standard, which was published in the August 2014 issue of The Synergist.

Do you have thoughts on this?

Enter your comments below.


August 19, 2014 | 0 Comments More

ISO OHSMS Standard – Update

The administrative aspects associated with the development of an ISO OHSMS standard are proceeding:

  • ISO has added PC 283 to its list of Technical Committees and there is a website page set up for its activities.  So far, no number for the standard has been announced.
  • ANSI has approved the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) as the administrator of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG to PC 283) and issued a press release on July 24, 2013 announcing that ASSE is seeking TAG participants.
  • The initial meeting of TC 283 has been set for October 21-25, 2013 in London UK.

Discussion about the content of the standard – the actual specification of what needs to be included in an OHSMS – will begin in earnest later this year.

As I reported in a prior blog, the development of the ISO OHSMS standard will need to conform with Annex SL of the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 1.  This means the high-level structure of the standard and the core requirements, those elements that are common to all ISO management system standards, have already been pre-established for this standard.

Modification of these core requirements is possible, but the intent behind Annex SL is to maintain alignment between all of the ISO management system standard requirements in order to help organizations establish integrated management systems covering multiple disciplines.

© ENLAR Compliance Services, Inc. (2013)
August 26, 2013 | 0 Comments More

ISO OHSMS Standard – What Now?

Last week, I did a blog post announcing that ISO had approved moving forward with the development of an occupational health and safety management system standard.

In response, I have gotten the following question – “What now?”

Let me try to answer this question.

ISO has established a Project Committee, ISO PC 283.   This PC is charged with developing this standard.  The standard will be entitled – Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems – Requirements.  The number designation has not yet been announced.

Based on information in the New Work Item Proposal (NWIP), this standard development effort will start later this year with a meeting in the U.K. and conclude with the publishing of an ISO Final Standard – likely in 2016. 

Once published, this ISO standard will replace other country-specific OHSMS standards such as ANSI Z10.  It will also replace OHSAS 18001.

The standard will be a specification standard intended to be used for third-party certification.  This means it will have auditable “shall” clauses.  The development of the standard will be governed by the requirements set out in the ISO directives, including the requirements for management system standards set out in Annex SL.   This means it will have the same top-level structure, use the same terminology and have many of the same core requirements as the other ISO management system standards.

Each ISO member body will have an opportunity to participate and to designate individual experts to represent it in this international standard development process.  These experts will be the ones who draft the language for the OHSMS standard.   Consensus among the experts will be reached in a series of international meetings where the content of the standard is discussed and agreed upon.   Opportunity will also be provided for others to review one or more committee drafts (i.e. CDs) of the standard and to provide comments to the designated experts for their consideration. 

In the United States, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) has applied to ANSI to become the TAG Administrator.  The activities of this committee will be governed by the ANSI rules for U.S. Technical Advisory Groups.  The members of this TAG will determine the U.S. position for the international standard development meetings held by PC 283 and designate the members of the TAG who will be the U.S. Experts.

Although the ISO OHSMS standard will be developed as a voluntary consensus standard, it is very likely that it will be incorporated into or referenced in other documents.  This may include supply-chain contracts, sustainability frameworks and governmental regulations.  It is this use of the standard that may make conformance with the ISO OHSMS standard mandatory.

What to know more?

For more information about the likely impacts of an ISO OHSMS standard, click on the link below to download your copy of the ENLAR Executive Briefing Paper  –
Impacts of an ISO OH&S Management System Standard.

Have a question about the development of this standard?

Ask it in the comment box below or send me an e-mail at

June 25, 2013 | 0 Comments More

ISO OHSMS Standard Going Forward

The New Work Item Proposal (NWIP) for development of an ISO Occupational Health and Safety Management System standard has been approved.  A new ISO Project Committee, PC 283, has been established to develop the standard.  BSI has been appointed as secretariat.

The intent is that this new ISO standard will replace OHSAS 18001:2007.

As I outlined in a prior blog post, there are several issues associated with this standard development activity.  The most important of these is that the development of ISO standards must conform with the ISO directives, including the requirements for management system standards set out in Annex SL.

© ENLAR Compliance Services, Inc. (2013)
June 19, 2013 | 0 Comments More

“Just an Industrial Accident”

There have been two deadly workplace accidents in two weeks. 

  • A horrific explosion in West Texas that killed 14 and destroyed at least 40 homes. 
  • A building collapse in Bangladesh that killed at least 275 and injured hundreds more.

In both cases, a workplace incident quickly became a community tragedy.

  • In West Texas – What may have been a small fire triggered a massive explosion – an explosion several times greater than the explosion in the Oklahoma City bombing.
  • In Bangladesh – An unsafe building has become a mass grave where family members are digging through the rubble searching for loved ones.

Unfortunately, worker safety is often viewed by the press as unimportant when compared to events that are labeled as terrorist attacks.  This was clearly evident last week.  One report, when comparing the West Texas Explosion to the Boston Marathon Bombing, characterized the explosion in West Texas as “just an industrial accident.”  No readily available villain so, therefore, the event is less important. 

deathYet, statistics show that workplace incidents are often much more deadly.  In addition, the effects don’t stop at the facility boundary.  Industrial accidents also impact families and our communities.

Workplace deaths are even more worthy of our attention because they are often preventable – if there is the public will to insist that they become so.

We will not be able to stop every terrorist attack without both a massive outlay of resources and even greater intrusions into areas that were previously considered private and “off limits” in a free society.  Yet, the causes of most significant workplace incidents can be identified and addressed.  What is often missing is a societal insistence that those who can prevent workplace accidents be required to do so rather than profiting from ignoring unsafe workplace conditions.

Both a change in perspective and improved enforcement of workplace standards are needed.

Society needs to stop viewing workplace accidents as simply an acceptable risk that workers are expected to take in order to get paid for their labors.  As John Howard put it – “Earning a day’s pay should not place anyone at risk of losing life or livelihood.”

In addition, international consensus standards are needed that establish clear, transparent and enforceable requirements that organizations must meet if they want to claim recognition for providing “safe workplaces.” 

ISO is proposing such a standard be developed in its New Work Item Proposal for an Occupational Health and Safety Management System standard (click here to read more about it).  Of course more will be needed to ensure worker safety but at least the development of an ISO standard can be an initial first step – if this initiative is approved.

 © ENLAR Compliance Services, Inc. (2013)
April 26, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Proposal for an ISO OHSMS Standard

Yesterday, I received a copy of the ISO New Work Item Proposal (NWIP) for a new requirements standard for occupational health and safety management systems.  ANSI has requested that comments on this NWIP be sent to ANSI by April 26, 2013, so ANSI can decide how it will vote on this proposal. 

There are several interesting aspects to this NWIP –

1.  This is a proposal for a Project Committee (PC), not a Technical Committee (TC). 

The distinction is that a Project Committee is authorized to develop a single standard.  This is the approach that was used for the development of ISO 50001:2011 – the ISO Energy Management System standard.  An ISO PC can be converted into a TC in the future but, at least initially, the standard development authority of this ISO committee will be limited solely to the development of the one standard being proposed – an OHSMS requirements document.

2.  Given the past controversy that has surrounded the development of an ISO OHSMS standard, this NWIP includes two additional letters. 

The first is a letter from the Rob Steele, the ISO Secretary General, addressing the right and ability of ISO to deal with the subject area.  The second is a letter from the International Labour Organization (ILO) expressing its concerns with ISO’s decision to proceed with this standard development effort.

3.  Any ISO OHSMS standard will be required to meet the requirements for management system standards that are set out in Annex SL of the ISO Directives. 

What this means is that an ISO OHSMS will not be based on any of the existing OHSMS standards – including OHSAS 18001 or ANSI Z10.  These standards can serve as reference documents but many of the important requirements of an ISO OHSMS will be determined solely by the high-level structure and core common text that are set out in Annex SL. 

ANSI is in the process of circulating this proposal to stakeholder groups in the United States.  I am confident there will be a great deal of discussion of this NWIP.  It is likely that there will be continued disagreement concerning the appropriate venue for developing OH&S standards. 

As set out in BSI’s justication document, the world is markedly different today from what it was when an ISO OHSMS standard was last proposed. 

Today, protection of workers is as much driven by a complex web of supply chain relationships and sustainability initiatives as it is by governmental decrees and enforcement actions.  As show by the success of the certification initiatives that have developed around the handling of electronics waste, publicity and supply chain initiatives can have a greater impact in protecting worker health than governmental rulemaking. 

In addition, given the increased use of outsourcing arrangements, many individuals performing work on an organization’s behalf are no longer employees in the traditional labor law sense.  By extension, worker safety is no longer solely an employment issue.  As explicitly set out in OHSAS 18001, and recognized in several OSHA standards, an organization’s obligation to protect workers extends beyond employees to individuals who are performing work on an organization’s behalf.  This can include a range of parties – including contract workers, employees of contractors, volunteers, visitors to the workplace and employees. 

Worker safety is no longer simply a labor issue to be addressed through governmental action.

Want to know more?

If you want to know more about Annex SL and the revision of ISO 14001, check out my previous blog post – New Year – New Standards.

If you want to review the ISO NWIP for an OHSMS standard click here (note – this document does not include the Justification Study and other attachments to the NWIP but does include copies of the letters discussed above).

© ENLAR Compliance Services, Inc. (2013)
March 13, 2013 | 0 Comments More

An ISO OHSMS Standard?

I have gotten the following question for several readers –

I hear there is an initiative to develop an ISO safety and health management standard.  Will ANSI Z10 be a key input in developing an ISO OHSMS standard?

The short answer is – “I don’t know.”

The longer answer is much more complex and requires delving into the processes – and politics – of international standard development.

It is my understanding that the British Standards Institute (BSI) is seriously considering submitting a proposal to ISO for the development of occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS) standards.

This is not as straightforward as it seems nor does it mean that an ISO OHSMS specification standard, like OHSAS 18001, is a foregone conclusion.

January 16, 2013 | 0 Comments More

New Year – New Standards

As we start 2013, it is clear that we will shortly be getting a very different version of ISO 14001 – as well as revisions to ISO 9001.  OHSAS 18001 may be revised as well – or transformed into an ISO standard.

Happy new year

What is happening with ISO 14001?

The revision of the 2004 edition of ISO 14001 is now well underway. 

The impact of Annex SL of the ISO/IEC Directives (a.k.a. Guide 83 High Level Structure) is becoming evident.  It is clear that using the new required common approach, with its mandatory definitions and identical core text, will result in significant structural and substantive changes to the standard.

Whether these changes are wise, or not, seems to depend on who you ask.

Next Tuesday, January 8, I will be presenting a webinar for BNA entitled –

Revision of ISO 14001:  Is It Reorganization or a Paradigm Shift?

In this webinar, I will cover some of the important changes being made to the ISO 14001 standard, including:

  • new requirements related to identifying and meeting the needs and expectations of external parties,
  • recognition that pen and paper is being replaced with electronic data, and
  •  increased focus on achieving outcomes and evaluating environmental performance.

UPDATE (1/16/2012) – If you want to learn more about the revision of ISO 14001 and the impact of Annex SL, click here.

A committee draft (CD) of the revised ISO 14001 standard will be out for comment later this year and the plan is to have the new version ready for final publication in early 2015.

What about OHSAS 18001?

The revision status of OSHAS 18001 is less clear.

BSI has indicated that it plans to again request that ISO develop an OHSMS standard to replace OHSAS 18001.  Any revision of OHSAS 18001 is on hold pending the outcome of this action.

What about ISO 9001?

Annex SL applies to ISO 9001 as well, so the next revision of the quality management system will need to deal with many of the same issues associated with Annex SL that are currently being debated in the revision of ISO 14001.

Work has started on this revision of ISO 9001 with a projected completion date of late 2015.

It appears 2013 will be a busy year for standards writers!
© ENLAR Compliance Services, Inc. (2013)
January 3, 2013 | 0 Comments More

But Is It True?

There is a renewed interest in management systems on metrics.

This interest seems to be driven by two organizational concerns – transparency and risk.  In particular, it appears to be driven by the risks associated with transparency.

I attended the ISO 9000 Conference earlier this week. 

One of the keynote speakers – Bennie Fowler from Ford Motor Company – discussed how Ford has refocused on its core principles in order to achieve a financial turn-around.  This includes a re-emphasis on the principle – “Quality is Job #1.”  At Ford, quality is now an integral part of executive strategy discussions.

One of the main drivers for this renewed emphasis on quality is transparency. 

Due to the “open communication” nature of the intranet, companies can no longer hide their quality problems. 

Today, delivering a quality product every time is key to survival.  If a company does not, its quality issues are likely to be reported on the intranet for all to see.

Other speakers discussed the on-going shift in focus from product quality to organizational quality.  According to surveys, consumers often buy products because of their perception of the company rather than because of any objective evaluation of the quality of a particular product. 

This means that organizational risks become marketing risks. 

This customer focus on organizational quality is one of the drivers in the increase in corporate sustainability reporting.  Customers are interested in whether a company is a good corporate citizen.  They want to make sure their brand loyalty is justified.

These sustainability reports often include an occupational safety and health component.  This usually consists of “some numbers” associated with injury rates. 

But are these numbers true?

If the studies that have been conducted on the accuracy of injury reporting are to be believed, maybe not. (Click here to go to a previous blog post about injury and illness reporting issues.)


There is no global standardization, no accountability (as in a third-party review of the data or processes used to develop the data) and definitely no transparency for injury and illness metrics.   There is no easy way to check the numbers being reported, nor is the information available to do so.  Right now, we simply have to take the company’s word for it that these “metrics” are accurate.

Quality is being driven by the risks of transparency; safety is not.

© ENLAR Compliance Services, Inc. (2012)
March 1, 2012 | 0 Comments More