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Friday, October 17, 2014

ISO is failing the standard test

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Standards underpinning safety management at work should be a good thing, right? Right – but only if they are good ones. And the draft standard cooked up by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), warns ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow, is far from good.

When the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) decided in 2013 to proceed with its own international standard for an Occupational Health and Safety Management System – ISO 45001 - it knew there were sensitivities.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) – which “gives an equal voice to workers, employers and governments to ensure that the views of the social partners are closely reflected in labour standards and in shaping policies and programmes” - had earlier made clear the far less transparent ISO shouldn’t be treading on its toes. Unions led by ITUC were similarly alarmed, and objected forcibly to ISO’s intrusion.
ISO, after all, does not have an expert mandate in occupational health and safety, and it doesn’t have to listen to those who have. Its membership is restricted to national standards bodies. These bodies at national level might allow unions and employers a say but they are, like ISO, constituted to set standards for “consumers.” The British Standards Institute (BSI), which chairs and provides the secretariat for the ISO 45,001 standard, has about 10,000 members, few of whom will have worker safety on their...
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