OSH Management Systems
PS: Describe your background and your involvement with the Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS) standard.
Vic: My background in safety and health spans a few decades starting as a technician at a defense laboratory before completing a master's degree in environmental and industrial health and CSP and CIH certifications. While most of my years have been with IBM, I have also worked in the semiconductor industry and at a county health department as an industrial hygienist and safety professional.
I became involved with the OHSMS standard in 1999 when I led the development of an OHSMS for a multinational company with more than 400,000 employees. When participation opened, I volunteered to help with the development of the ANSI/AIHA Z10-2005 standard, Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, and was active on the edit subcommittee. Z10 was released in 2005, and I became vice chair of the Z10 Committee during the subsequent revision, which was released in 2012. I am honored to serve as head of the U.S. delegation representing ANSI/ASSE as well as chair of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Project Committee (PC) 283 on the standard, Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems—Requirements (ISO 45001).
As U.S. TAG chair, I manage more than 80 committee members to provide comments, help shape a proposed OHSMS standard and establish the U.S. position on ISO 45001. ASSE President Kathy Seabrook, CSP, CFIOSH, EurOSHM, Thea Dunmire, CSP, CIH, and I, along with Todd Hohn, CSP, as an observer, participate as the U.S. delegation from the TAG in crafting the language for ISO 45001. We collaborate with experts on the ISO PC from other countries and liaison organizations to produce draft language. As members of ISO PC 283, our role as the U.S. delegation is to represent and incorporate the thoughts and opinions of the TAG in developing the language. Simply put, we take the input from our U.S. committee in developing the language we hope to see in ISO 45001.
PS: How is this standard expected to influence safety and health management at a global level?
Vic: I started my career in the late 1970s, less than a decade after passage of the OSH Act, so a few notable regulations have passed in my career. Many people consider ISO 45001 to be one of the most significant standards since countries began adopting worker safety and health regulations. When the OSH Act was passed, domestic injury and illness rates were the main focus in the workplace. In fact, this ISO standard had been proposed three times prior. The reason it failed to gain steam was the belief that such a standard was unnecessary given that basic requirements for safety and health programs were in place.
But this is where an important distinction is needed. This is not simply a program standard but a management system standard. Rather than a collection of programs, this standard, much like Z10, focuses on how programs and entities work together to maintain and improve worker safety and health.
Competition for resources and globalization of products and services of late are driving the need for this standard. Whether we are referring to the impact of increased demand for efficiencies in domestic processes or goods and services produced internationally, we want to know that the same or better levels of protections for worker safety are in place.
For example, tragic loss of life occurred during the Gulf oil spill in New Orleans, LA, and the structural fires and building collapse in Bangladesh. The former resulted from multiple failures, including contractor issues, and the latter resulted from substandard building codes and poor safety practices at a manufacturer of products used by U.S. companies. An OHSMS with the proper integration of all of those who impact workplace safety may have prevented these fatalities.
ISO 45001 will help drive standardization and integration of safety and health domestically and globally and will help ensure that an overarching framework is in place. One reason for this is much like ISO 9000 (quality) and 14000 (environmental), there will be a market driver, not just a regulatory arm, to ensure safety and health. Companies will be able to ensure best practices and continuous improvements while the public will be able to participate in improving worker safety and health as the social conscience builds demand toward certification and/or conformance to ISO 45001.
The 2005 release and 2012 revision of Z10 are evidence of this transformation. In each case, participating interest groups supported the standard's development with no dissenting votes, a rather remarkable feat for a consensus document.
Prior to its transfer to ASSE as secretariat, Z10 was also the highest-selling publication for AIHA. While Z10 does not require certification (it is available), its sister standard, Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001, in addition to other country standards, boasts more than 100,000 organizations certified to an OHSMS.
PS: How can OHSMS affect an organization's bottom line?
Vic: This is a great question, one that we in the safety profession have asked ourselves for decades. It has always been a challenge to show the true financial benefits of prevention because there are so many avenues of indirect savings (e.g., productivity, brand image) as well as direct savings (e.g., workers' compensation costs, property damage, process downtime, absenteeism). Those traditional avenues related to return on investments should continue and, with the improvements gained by the OHSMS, should show even greater returns. As the management system improves efficiencies, the company may also experience lower operational costs. However, as we have seen from our experiences with 18001 certification, an OHSMS can make a difference in terms of supply chain management and securing new contracts and businesses.
PS: Will ISO 45001 draw at all from
Vic: It absolutely will. Z10 is one of the reference documents cited in the proposal to ISO for an OHSMS that would be used to help craft the language for 45001. As an ANSI standard and as ANSI representatives, it is our principal reference document. Z10 has much to offer, including a healthy appendix that was recently revised to help implementers of an OHSMS. It is hard to say how much of Z10 will be seen in the new standard since this is a consensus process and other countries have similar systems. A good example of that is OHSAS 18001. We have an opportunity to affirm the commonalities across country OHSMS while adding our experiences of the past 13 years reflected in the Z10 development.
PS: What are the immediate action items for the TAG? How will you encourage the TAG to work toward a common goal?
Vic: First, I think we are spoiled by how well the various interest groups worked together to create and develop Z10. This is a good thing because it gives us a positive model to follow. The scope of the work is a bit different, and rather than the TAG developing the standard, it is providing comments on a standard developed by PC 283, of which we are one of the member countries. We are off to a good start.
The TAG is working on prestandard development activities. One goal is to ensure that we have great chemistry in developing a consistent U.S. position that can be supported by all. To do this, we first need to ensure that we establish great relationships and respect for the strengths and skills that each member brings to the table. We need to recognize that we are all in this business to protect worker safety and that multiple opinions and methodologies exist. Recognition of personal bias is important to reach consensus. Bias for us can be a source of strength to make better decisions and improvements.
Second, we want to ensure that we have an environment that encourages positive and impactful participation. This point is strongly tied to the first one. It is easy to get lost when you have a committee of more than 80 members. Our goal is to make sure each person has a voice and that we have a process to efficiently and effectively manage the volume. Our first step is to create subcommittees based on various sections of the draft standard. The smaller groups of 20 or so will focus on select sections to provide thoughts and suggestions on issues and requirements that can then be shared with the larger group. In fact, this approach mirrors that of PC 283.
Finally, it is important to develop a cadence and rhythm. I feel this is suggestive of a management system approach. For things to work well, all activities must work together toward a common goal. This sounds fairly obvious, but it can be a principle that is easily lost if we do not constantly remind ourselves of our overall objectives. If you follow the 80/20 rule, the focus is on the 80%. This is not to say you do not spend time on the 20%, but the principle of continual improvement you see in a management system indicates that you always have opportunities to improve on that 20%.
PS: What is the TAG's timeline? What could happen to Z10 if the U.S. votes in favor of ISO 45001?
Vic: As mentioned, the TAG is tied closely to the work of ISO PC 283. In fact, TAGs for other countries are called mirror committees, which is a great name since these committees mirror the work and approximate timeline of PC 283. We can summarize the development of ISO 45001 in four stages, all to be completed within a 3-year time frame.
The first stage is a working draft, which PC 283 released in December 2013. The TAG reviewed and commented on this draft in February 2014.
In the second stage, PC 283 will address all of the comments submitted by member countries, including the U.S., to produce a committee draft. The committee draft will be the first draft made available to the public (including the U.S. TAG) for comment before the end of 2014.
In the third stage, a draft international standard is produced by PC 283 along with translations into local languages in 2015. Balloting is conducted along the way, which could affect the number and length of reviews and edits. The final draft international standard is generated in the fourth stage and balloted by each member country. If all goes according to plan, a new international standard may be published by the end of 2016.
It is too early to tell what would happen to Z10 once ISO 45001 is produced since we are not sure how much of Z10 we will actually see in the new international standard. The general feeling is that Z10 is a leading-edge OHSMS standard and that some form of it could be used to augment the new international standard directly or perhaps as an ANSI technical document. Either way, those who have worked to develop Z10 or who have implemented Z10 in their organizations will find themselves having contributed to or being well prepared for the release of the new ISO 45001.
Vic Toy, CSP, CIH, is manager, global transformation and strategy, Integrated Health Services at IBM. He is also chair of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to the International Organization for Standardization Project Committee 283, Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems—Requirements (ISO 45001).