Necessity is the Mother of Invention: ISO Responds to COVID-19 with ISO/PAS 45005:2020

ISO 45005:2020 and COVID-19

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations are reaching previously unimaginable levels of efficiency in their quest to bring stability and safety back to a desperate world. While everyone has been focused on the speed with which pharmaceutical researchers are producing COVID-19 vaccines, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has been working on providing a new specification in the 45000 series for occupational health and safety during the pandemic.

The Development of ISO/PAS 45005:2020

ISO/PAS 45005:2020: Occupational health and safety management—General guidelines for safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic was developed by ISO/TC 283 for Occupational Health and Safety Management in only three months, which is a far cry from the usual three years it takes to develop a standard. ISO/PAS 45005:2020 provides information that helps organizations in the following areas:

  • To protect workers and stakeholders from COVID-19 in the workplace.
  • To provide evidence that it is taking a systematic approach to mitigating the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace.
  • To create a dynamic framework that will allow the workplace to adapt to the pandemic as it develops.

What Does ISO/PAS 45005:2020 Provide?

Organizations can use ISO/PAS 45005:2020 to understand the guidelines for working from home or other remote locations, how to account for roles and responsibilities in the new workplace, how to manage emergency preparedness and response protocols, how to reduce transmission in the workplace, and the importance of reporting procedures. It offers practical advice to organizations of any size, even those that don’t have a dedicated health and safety function.

ISO/PAS 45005:2020 also addresses the importance of psychological health in the workplace, which will be further documented in the upcoming ISO 45002 for mental health in 2021.

ISO/PAS 45005:2020 and PDCA

ISO/PAS 45005:2020 is designed to integrate with ISO 45001:2018 for occupational health and safety management systems. Like ISO 45001:2018, ISO 9001:2015, and ISO 14001:2015, it uses the PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act) to structure its clauses. The outline is as follows:

PlanPlan what the organization needs to do to work safely.4. Planning and assessment of risks
5. Suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19
6. Psychological health and well-being
7. Inclusivity
8. Resources
DoDo what the plan has laid out.9. Communication
10. Hygiene
11. Use of personal protective equipment
12. Operations
CheckCheck on the progress of the plan.13. Performance evaluation
ActEngage in continuous improvement.14. Improvement

Accessing ISO/PAS 45005:2020

ISO is offering ISO/PAS 45005:2020 in a free read-only format on its COVID-19 Response website, along with other important standards like ISO 31000:2018 for risk management and several others on requirements for personal protective equipment, security and resilience, and medical devices.

ISO/PAS 45005:2020 will be updated to adapt to new information and the changing face of the pandemic over the next few months. Organizations, even those that are not currently certified to ISO 45001:2018, are encouraged to review the standard and understand their responsibilities to the workers to whom they owe a duty of care.

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