The voluntary international standard intended to improve workplace safety across the globe is expected to go into effect sometime in 2017 – a year later than first predicted.

2.3 million fatalities a year

ISO 45001 Occupational health and safety management systems Requirements will provide a framework to improve employee safety, reduce workplace risks and create better, safer working conditions, all over the world. The standard is aimed at reducing the 2.3 million fatalities that occur each year due to work-related accidents or diseases.

The standard is currently being developed by a committee of occupational health and safety experts, and will take into account other International Standards in this area such as OHSAS 18001, the International Labour Organization's ILO-OSH Guidelines, various national standards and the ILO's international labour standards and conventions.

U.S. voted "no"

A draft of ISO 45001 has garnered nearly 3,000 comments. Of the companies participating in its development, 71 percent approved the draft and 28 percent – including the U.S. – voted against it. (One percent abstained.)

Though ISO 45001 would be voluntary, it could become a regulatory requirement in parts of the world – especially  in countries who  generally adopt the international standard. At present, that’s Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series 18001, which the British Standards Institution developed in 1999.

Contractors will be affected

According to the institution, OHSAS 18001 will be withdrawn, and certified organizations will have three years to transition to ISO 45001 upon its publication.

Contractors are watching the proceedings with interest, because some multinational companies will only do business with suppliers or contractors that are ISO-certified.