ISO 45001: Does It Relate to Injury Prevention?

[fa icon="calendar'] May 19, 2022 12:22:12 PM / by Deborah Lechner

Why the new ISO 45001 Standard for Occupational Health and Safety? 

While there were a number of national and regional standard governing Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), there was no global or international standard - making it difficult to discuss and share best practices.  

The new (published in 2018 and fully effective as of March 2021) ISO 45001 promotes proactive risk prevention, regulatory compliance, safety culture, and a singular global system for injury prevention.

Organizations who have implemented it see that it has helped them in four important areas:

  1. Comply with regulations
  2. Manage business risk
  3. Inspire trust in their businesses
  4. Protect their businesses

How it should affect your day to day injury prevention?  ISO 45001 establishes a framework for an OHS management system and its desired outcomes.  If the standard is used effectively, it can help an organization align OHS with its strategic direction.  The idea is that OHS management is integrated into the core business functions rather than being siloed.   To be in compliance, an organizations strategic plan should address this integration of OHS.

Leadership and Employee Participation.  The standard requires participation from top management who are expected to lead and promote a culture that supports OHS.  It also requires leadership to establish a process whereby employees will be consulted and can participate in the development of OHS programs.  To comply, organizations can develop a health and safety committee. 

Planning.  The standard suggest that planning be broken down into two major categories:

  1.  Assessment of OHS and organizational risks.  This category includes the traditional hazard assessment and rating the risks according to likelihood and severity. 
  2.  Assessment of OHS opportunities for improved performance which includes eliminating or controlling the hazards and, as much as is possible, matching the work and the workers. The standard also includes mitigating psychological and cognitive risks as well as physical.  It strongly suggests that these mitigation efforts should be implemented in the design stages of work processes. 

Resources.  The standard requires that organizations identify and provide the necessary resources for developing, maintaining and improving OHS. These resources include financial, infrastructure, human resources and natural resources.  There is emphasis on documentation of processes but advice to avoid creating an unnecessary bureaucratic  paper trail that has no real effect on the day-to-day real world implementation of OHS. 

Operations. Significantly strengthened from the previous standard (where use of the hierarchy of ergonomic controls was just an option), the ISO 45001 now requires the use of the hierarchy of ergonomic controls. The standard further requires the organization to proactively plan for and manage the change necessary for implementation of risk abatement and making sure that the new change does not create new risks. 

The standard also requires that organizations address risks inherent in the supply chain as the procurement process begins which will affect the selection of contractors.

A new topic addressed by the standard is outsourcing.  The standard recognizes that some organizations outsource their most hazardous functions.  The standard goes on to state that a "responsible organization" will make sure that outsourced functions are consistent with their OHS guidelines. As such the organization will make procurement decisions based on this standard and may conduct training and hold inspections. 

Performance Evaluations/Outcomes.  ISO 45001 states that an effective OHS management system has to be continually improving. It should include a "plan, do, check, act" process which includes employee input. 

Improvement.  The improvement clause of the standard requires that the organization use root cause analysis to identify and remove the root causes of injuries and illnesses.  The standard also emphasizes that OHS should be proactive and continually improving - not static. 

A copy of the full standard can be purchased at

Five Important Ways that ErgoScience assists organizations in compliance with ISO 45001:

  1. Root Cause Injury Analysis and Program Selection.  ErgoScience helps its clients evaluate their loss runs and determine which  program (from a full spectrum of Hire to Retire Injury Prevention Programs) will effectively address their most prevalent injuries at the appropriate point in the life cycle of the worker.
  2. Pre-hire and Return-to-Work Physical Abilities Testing - helps match the work to the workers' physical abilities in a way that is compliant with ISO 45001, the ADA and EEOC.
  3. New Hire Acclimation Programs. Helps newly hired workers acclimate to a physically demanding job and teaches them safe materials handling - augmented with wearable sensors -further insuring that workers are matched to their jobs. 
  4. Job Analysis and Ergonomic Assessment - identify the physical requirement of the jobs and the hazards associated with them - which is the first step of implementation of ISO 45001 risk control/mitigation.  You can't address the risks if you don't know what they are. Our process is augmented with AI enabled motion capture - giving you an objective level of risk that can be compared pre and post-abatement.   Our recommendations for risk controls make it easier to implement ISO 45001's hierarchy of controls. 
  5. OSHA-Compliant Early Intervention Programs (EIP) for MSDs.  Addresses ISO 45001's emphasis on proactive prevention by addressing MSD discomfort in it's early phases before it becomes a lost time injury.  Using four OSHA-sanctioned first aid interventions EIP avoids turning minor discomforts into OSHA recordables.  Wearable sensors are incorporated to re-train associates in improved materials handling and postural control.  Risk factors can be addressed and improved through our AI Motion Capture system.

To lean more about our Supercharged ISO 45001-Compliant Injury Prevention Strategies attend our free live virtual workshop on June 14th at 12:00 CDT.

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Topics: Workplace Safety, Injury Prevention, Risk Management, Workers' Compensation Costs, Reduce workplace injuries

Deborah Lechner

Written by Deborah Lechner

Deborah Lechner, ErgoScience President, combines an extensive research background with 25-plus years of clinical experience. Under her leadership, ErgoScience continues to use the science of work to improve workplace safety, productivity and profitability.