The COVID-19 pandemic shook the workplace like no other event, along with everyone in it. And it’s not over yet. “Anticipate, prepare and respond to crises – Invest now in resilient OSH systems” is the theme of this year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work held today, 28 April. ISO has joined numerous organizations supporting the global effort to build a resilient workforce and keep everyone safe.
New layouts and locations, changing protocols and the uncertainty that weighs on everyone’s psychological well-being are just some of the many challenges that employers and employees continue to face as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses. While the vaccine brings hope that we will someday see the end of this period, it is clear that the unexpected can strike at any time and being prepared and reactive is a recipe for occupational success.
Sally Swingewood, Manager of ISO’s expert committee ISO/TC 283, Occupational health and safety management*), said this period has shown us just how vital it is to have agility, flexibility and business continuity planning.
The ISO committee recently developed ISO/PAS 45005, Occupational health and safety management – General guidelines for safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic, a free**) publicly available specification designed to help employers and employees in all areas of work, from one-man bands to multinationals.
“It is hoped that the ISO guidance will help companies to adapt, survive and stay in business, no matter how their local situation changes, without having to compromise on worker safety,” said Swingewood.
“By being fully prepared, we should be able to save both lives and jobs. And as we want every kind of working person to benefit, we have made it available to view online free of charge from anywhere in the world.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only affected our working life, but our sanity as well. As the pandemic drags on, the psychological strain cannot be ignored.
“Mental health has been severely challenged over the last year and it is vital we get rid of any stigma around stress, anxiety and depression,” Swingewood said. “Psychological health is a global issue and it requires a global approach to not only break down the taboos but to provide concrete solutions.”
With this in mind, ISO is putting the final touches to ISO 45003, Occupational health and safety management – Psychological health and safety at work – Guidelines for managing psychosocial risks, which will give guidance on managing psychological health and safety risks within an occupational health and safety management system. The standard will address the many areas that can impact a worker’s psychological health, including ineffective communication, excessive pressure, poor leadership and organizational culture.
ISO 45003 will help users meet the requirements of ISO 45001, the world’s first International Standard for an occupational health and safety management system, which is the foundation of a resilient organization with a strong, healthy and happy workforce.
All of these standards and more can be obtained from your national ISO member or the ISO Store.
*) The secretariat of ISO/TC 283 is held by BSI, ISO’s member for the UK.
**) This PAS has been made freely available online to support global efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.