Crisis management, Occupational Safety

ISO 45005

The international guidelines for safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 impacts on occupational health and safety

8 minutes03/31/2021

The COVID-19 crisis has turned our working lives upside down. Faced with mutations that make the virus more dangerous, along with enhanced regulations and requirements, companies need to be extremely flexible. Businesses try to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by implementing measures such as social distancing, regular ventilation, and providing medical or FFP2 face masks. Working from home as well as increased safeguards to ensure hygiene and infection prevention on site are intended to protect employees and customers alike.

  • Occupational safety during the COVID-19 crisis: ISO 45005 provides companies with practical guidelines to protect employees and customers. | © iStock: Smederevac

ISO 45005: A global guide to preventing employees from contracting SARS-CoV-2

Governments, regulatory authorities, and professional associations around the world have produced guidelines to enable safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic. But what many do not know is that the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has also created guidelines to support companies, namely ISO 45005, which was published in December 2020. It is based on the BSI’s Safe Working Guidance and brings together international best practices to enhance occupational health and safety and infection control during the COVID-19 crisis.

Experts from 26 countries have contributed their expertise to help safety managers and EHSQ professionals address the coronavirus pandemic with a practical, risk-based approach. Organizations wanting to resume operations after a full or partial closure will also benefit from ISO 45005. The cross-sector guide is not only applicable to the current crisis – in the long term, ISO 45005 may also reduce downtime due to other infectious diseases by focusing on effective hygiene management

Benefits of ISO 45005

  • If a company is already certified under ISO 45001, implementing the guidelines is very simple. Existing management systems can also be supplemented in a straightforward way based on the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) cycle

  • Cross-sector and transnational guidelines

  • Information on best practices based on the latest industry findings

  • Helps organizations perform comprehensive risk assessments and provides concrete practical examples for dealing with risks

  • Allows for multiple locations/countries, as well as different groups of employees, to be incorporated 

  • The risk of spreading communicable diseases is reduced. Seasonal or other communicable diseases (such as the flu) can also be better managed by companies

  • Allows for a flexible response plan that can be changed at short notice according to different levels of risk or possible operational restrictions

  • The implementation of ISO 45005 contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) 3, 8, 9, 10 and 11

  • Builds confidence among authorities, employees, customers, and other relevant stakeholders

How ISO 45005 is structured

The chapters in the ISO 45005 guide do not correspond to the High-Level Structure (HLS) used by other ISO standards (such as ISO 45001 or ISO 14001). However, there is a clear correlation. 

Plan: Chapters 4 to 8 - Planning what you need and risk assessment
  1. Planning and assessment of risks

  2. Suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19

  3. Psychological health and well-being

  4. Inclusivity

  5. Resources

Do: Chapters 9 to 12 - Implementing measures
  1. Communication

  2. Hygiene

  3. Use of personal protective equipment

  4. Operations

Check: Chapter 13 - Reviewing measures
  1. Performance evaluation

Act: Chapter 14 - Identifying optimization potential and defining solutions
  1. Improvement

Download ISO 45005

You can view and download “ISO/PAS 45005:2020: Occupational health and safety management – General guidelines for safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic” here.