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Occupational safety and health – Wikipedia
Occupational safety and health (OSH), also commonly referred to as occupational health and safety (OHS), occupational health, or workplace health and safety (WHS), is a multidisciplinary field concerned with the safety, health, and welfare of people at work. These terms also refer to the goals of this field,so their use in the sense of this article was originally an abbreviation of occupational safety and health program/department etc.
The goals of occupational safety and health programs include to foster a safe and healthy work environment. OSH may also protect co-workers, family members, employers, customers, and many others who might be affected by the workplace environment. In the United States, the term occupational health and safety is referred to as occupational health and occupational and non-occupational safety and includes safety for activities outside of work.
Introduction to Occupational Health and Safety
Successful occupational health and safety practice requires the collaboration and participation of both employers and workers in health and safety programmes, and involves the consideration of issues relating to occupational medicine, industrial hygiene, toxicology, education, engineering safety, ergonomics, psychology, …
Health and Safety at work continues to be a challenge across the globe. Despite much modern progress in the area, over 7,600 people die every day from work related accidents or illnesses, equalling over 2.78 million a year (source: International Labour Organisation).
Likewise, occupational health and safety is a burden for both employers and the wider economy and can result in staff absence, business disruption, increased insurance premiums, reputational damage and losses from early retirements. In the UK at least, criminal prosecutions for health and safety failings are seeing greatly increased penalties, with fines in the millions of pounds becoming common.
In turn, employees and other individuals are best protected by a sensible and practical management system. A poorly planned approach (or no plan at all) is likely to lead to injury with associated compensation claims and possibly prosecution. An overly complex or impractical system can also lead to trouble – it can create apathy or indifference for individuals who cannot realistically follow the system, undermining its purpose.
Aims and Timescales
In an attempt to combat this problem the International Organization for Standardization (“ISO”) is developing a new standard – ISO 45001 – Health and Safety Management Systems – Requirements. Publication of the final standard has been announced as the 12th March 2018. The existing British Standard OHSAS 18001 will be withdrawn on publication of ISO 45001 and organisations currently certified to OHSAS 18001 will have a three year transition period to migrate across to ISO 45001.
The aim of the new standard is to:
- Support organisations all over the world in providing a safe and healthy workplace for workers and other people;
- Prevent deaths, work-related injury and ill-health; and
- Continually improve health and safety standards through the reduction of risks.
The standard is currently being developed by a committee of occupational health and safety experts, and will follow other management system approaches such as ISO 14001 and ISO 9001, which deal with environmental and quality management. It will take into account other standards in this area such as OHSAS 18001, the International Labour Organization’s ILO-OSH Guidelines, various existing national standards and the ILO’s international labour standards and conventions.
The new standard has been a long time coming, as shown by the outline below, with March 2018 finally providing a view into the content of the new standard.