In clause “7.4.2 Participation, consultation and representation”, the first draft of ISO 45001 falls behind clause “220.127.116.11 Participation and consultation” of OHSAS 18001:2007. The requirements for employee participation became more ambiguous. For example, the scope of “consultation” has been limited to “an exchange of relevant information and advice as part of the decision making process” in a footnote. (That footnote is the only mentioning of “consultation” in clause 7.4.2.) OHSAS 18001:2007 requires “consultation [with the employees] where there are any changes that effect their OH&S”. The scope of OHSAS 18001:2007 is much wider.
In http://www.irca.org/en-gb/resources/INform/archive/INform–Issue-46/Opinion-ISO45001-stumbles-at-first-hurdle/ (INform, Mai 2014), IRCA’s Technical Manager Richard Green wrote:
[…] The degree to which employee participation in occupational health and safety should be embedded into the new standard is also a hot topic with a number of international employee focused organisations seeking to maximise such involvement. […]
I think, this is not about “maximizing employee participation”. Rather, at least the level which has been reached with OHSAS 18001:2007 has to be defended by employee organizations like the ILO and (hopefully) by large unions, e.g. those under the roof of the DGB (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund).
By the way: I saw quite some foot dragging by employers when it came to moving from OHSAS 18001:1999 to OHSAS 18001:2007. There may be a reason: Employers may have tried to avoid to put 18001:2007 at work in order to wait for its dilusion by ISO 45001. Probably advised by their CABs (by their accredited certifiers, CAB = Conformity Assessment Body) who also are involved in influencing ISO 45001, the imployers hope that they can reverse some of the improvements achieved with OHSAS 18001:2007. Worse, during implementation of OHSAS 18001:2007, the CABs of the employers may even have helped the employers to minimize employee participation. I know of one big German CAB who did not object to his customer’s sticking with OHSAS 18001:1999. The customer’s neglect was clearly recognizable in the OH&S manual. The CAB took action only after an employee complained in the year 2013.
OHSAS 18001 improved in 2007 because that British standard had to compete with ILO-OSH and had to be accepted by well organized labor organizations (e.g. in Britain) as well. To me it seems that ISO 45001 moves towards a dilution of OHSAS 18001:2007. That doesn’t come as a surprise, as more regions with low safety standards are involved in discussing ISO 45001. In many of these regions, the employers do not really want to protect their workers too well.
I fear that ISO 45001 mainly will serve to (a) increase the “legal certainity” of companies and (b) as a source of income for advisors, consultants and CABs. This has an impact on how the CABs want ISO 45001 to work for them and for ther clients. Employees are not the clients of CABs, employers are. Although protecting the health of emloyees is the official objective of ISO 45001, in reality that objective probably will have to take the backseat after OHSAS 18001 has been cleverly eliminated. Instead of improving the occupational health and safety of employees, to employers and CABs maximizing the employers’ legal certainty and minimizing the cost of OHS&S has the first priority.