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How to ensure health & safety during the COVID-19 pandemic with ISO 45005

Even a strong Occupational Health & Safety Management System (OHSMS) that meets all of the requirements of ISO 45001:2018 may not have identified all of the measures to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to aid companies in implementing the best practices during this emergency, and to better protect employees, ISO has released a guidance document to help address risks arising from COVID 19: ISO 45005.

What is ISO 45005?
  • ISO 45005 provides guidelines on how to manage risks arising from COVID-19.
  • The benefit of the guidelines in ISO/PAS 45005:2020 is that they have been created by an international team of occupational health and safety experts who are forming their guidance from the best practices found throughout the world.
  • While ISO 45001 will have helped you to create processes that focus on health & safety management, ISO 45005 gives specific guidelines for explicit processes for use during the pandemic.

ISO responds to COVID-19 with ISO/PAS 45005:2020

ISO/PAS 45005:2020 was published to focus on working during the COVID-19 pandemic. The scope of this standard is to provide guidelines on how to manage risks arising from COVID-19 in order to protect workplace-related health, safety, and well-being. The emphasis is on safe working during the pandemic, above and beyond general safety management guidelines.

Click here to get the full text of the ISO 45005 standard, or check out the ISO 45005 general guidelines available for free.

What is the scope of ISO/PAS 45005:2020?

ISO 45005 provides guidelines for safe working during the pandemic, which are much more specific than the general guidelines for safe working. While ISO 45001 will have helped you to create processes that focus on health & safety management, ISO 45005 gives specific guidelines for explicit processes for use during the pandemic. Safe working while dealing with a virus that is this contagious can be better achieved with this more detailed guidance.

The following is included in the ISO/PAS 45005:2020 guidelines:

ISO 45005: How it can help with the pandemic response

Clause 4, Risk assessment and planning – These requirements are built on the risk assessment processes of ISO 45001 with specific information on internal and external issues that COVID-19 presents, how leadership and worker participation is affected by the pandemic, considering different types of workplaces (such as physical workplaces, working from home, working in other people’s homes, and multiple location mobile workplaces), as well as roles and activities that may be necessary for COVID-19. Also considered are changes needed for emergency responses and planning due to changing restrictions.

Clause 5, Suspected COVID-19 cases – This section gives detailed guidance on managing illness in the different workplace scenarios, including testing, contact tracing, and quarantine, where these become necessary.

Clause 6, Psychological health – We all know that the isolation and remoteness of the response to COVID-19 has affected people psychologically, and ISO 45005 gives guidance on how to aid in psychological health and well-being for employees.

Clauses 7 & 8, Inclusivity and resources – Guidance on how to ensure inclusivity of employees, while still protecting people with distance, is considered along with the changes needed in resources to ensure safe work during COVID-19.

Clauses 9, 10, & 11, Communication, Hygiene, and PPE – Clause 9 focuses on the specific communications needed when first returning to the workplace, and then on an ongoing basis, to keep employees safe. Guidance on hygiene needed in the workplace is given in clause 10, followed by details on personal protective equipment (clause 11) that may be needed in addition to the regular protections, such as masks and face coverings to protect against the virus.

Clause 12, Operation – 10 sub-clauses give detailed guidelines on the changes that should be considered for many different types of situations in the workplace as they relate to the pandemic. These include protections on the first return to the workplace, entering and leaving work, moving between workplaces, the use of work zones and workstations, using common areas safely, safety for meetings and visits, working with the public directly, work-related travel guidelines, and dealing with deliveries in a safe manner.

Clause 13, Performance evaluation – While you will already have monitoring and measurement in place for your OHSMS, ISO 45005 gives guidance on specific monitoring and measurement that should be added for the COVID-19 pandemic. Included in this is the management review of this data, including incidents and reports, and how you should update your processes for reporting to external interested parties.

Clause 14, Improvement – Updates on your improvement processes to use the data gathered by the monitoring and measurement for COVID-19 are detailed.

Annex A, Protective security – Annex A includes further detailed considerations for the operations activities, and the COVID-19 safety measures needed. This includes further information on operations and practices to be considered, as well as measures for protective security.

Annex B, Accessibility & Inclusion – The details on psychological health and including the many different needs of individual employees can be difficult, so further guidance is given in Annex B. This includes guidelines on considering individual needs, such as individual health conditions, and the major group factors to consider: outside the workplace, inside the workplace, and communication factors.

Benefits of using ISO/PAS 45005 during the pandemic

If you are already operating your business, you will have already put in place many safeguards for your employees to help prevent injury and ill health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and while these may be very good, they may also have been created in a hurry. The benefit of the guidelines in ISO/PAS 45005:2020 are that they have been created by an international team of occupational health and safety experts who are forming their guidance from the best practices found throughout the world.

So, even if you have safeguards in place, reviewing ISO 45005 is a good way of ensuring that your current safety mechanisms are the best they can be to protect the health & safety of your workers. If there are further changes needed, as recommended by these international experts, then you will want to consider updating your practices to better protect your workers.

For more information on how all of the ISO standards can help in the response to the pandemic, see the article: How to use ISO standards to address a pandemic.

Working in this time of pandemic can be hazardous, and you want to make sure you have considered all of the reasonable safeguards for your workplace to succeed.

To learn how to create a basic Occupational Health & Safety Management System, download this free Clause-by-clause explanation of ISO 45001:2018.

Advisera Mark Hammar
Author
Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar is a Certified Manager of Quality / Organizational Excellence through the American Society for Quality, and has been a Quality Professional since 1994. Mark has experience in auditing, improving processes, and writing procedures for Quality, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems, and is certified as a Lead Auditor for ISO 9001, AS9100, and ISO 14001.