- The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is preparing to issue the first global international health and safety management systems standard, according to Business Insurance.
- ISO 45001, which is scheduled to be published on March 12, is a standard that includes a way to integrate other safety standards into the same program and uses a plan-do-check-act (PDCA) model as a way to assess safety practices, according to NSF International. The new standard also encourages companies, backed by their executive leadership, to make health and safety part of organizational goals rather than just a matter for those tasked with seeing to the company's health and safety issues.
- The standard is voluntary for U.S. construction companies, meaning that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards are still the law of the land. Proponents of the new ISO standard say it encourages employee involvement in a company's safety program and offers a continuous health and safety practice evaluation process that ensures the best outcome and reduces risk.
While OSHA offers up specific rules in order to eliminate safety hazards on the job site, the agency does not mandate the format or content of a safety plan. Instead, OSHA offers guidelines with the goals of preventing workplace illnesses and injuries, improving regulatory compliance, reducing costs, encouraging employee involvement, focusing on social responsibility and increasing productivity and overall company benefits.
However, to ensure compliance with its standards, OSHA still relies on a program of inspections, which can result in citations and hefty fines. For those companies that continuously put their workers at risk, there is the Severe Violator Enforcement Program, under which those companies are subjected to increased OSHA oversight and inspections. Since nearly half of all construction-related deaths in the U.S. are related to falls, the agency often focuses on contractors who engage in trades like roofing, where workers are at great risk of falls.
In August, OSHA issued 14 violation citations to Great White Construction and fined the company, which is based in Jacksonville, Florida, a total of more than $1.5 million. The agency had investigated Great White 12 times in the preceding five years, but said the company continued to put workers at risk by not providing the proper fall protection. In addition to the fine, OSHA also put Great White into the agency's severe violator program.