More than 50 Irish companies will be among the first organisations in the world to achieve certification to a major new global health and safety standard.

ISO 45001 for Occupational Health and Safety sets the minimum standard of practice to protect employees worldwide.

It gives organisations a framework to increase safety, reduce workplace risks and enhance health and well-being at work.

Geraldine Larkin, NSAI Chief Executive, said, "This much-anticipated standard was developed over several months with the input of experts from more than 70 countries."

She said ISO 45001 is set to transform workplace practices globally and the NSAI is able to offer it to Irish businesses from day one.

Health and safety in the workplace is the number one concern of most businesses, yet still deaths and injuries occur. 

According to the Health and Safety Authority, 501 people have died in workplace accidents in Ireland since 2008, with 47 deaths in 2017 alone. Almost half of all deaths occurred in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors.

Globally, more than 2.78 million fatal accidents occur at work yearly, with some 374 million incidents of non-fatal work-related injuries and illnesses. 

Fergal O'Byrne, NSAI's Head of Business Excellence, said, "This paints a sober picture of the modern workplace - one where workers can suffer serious consequences as a result of simply doing their job. The beauty of ISO 45001 is that it's applicable to all organisations, regardless of size, industry or nature of business."

Among the first companies in the world to achieve certification to ISO 45001 will be Collen Construction. 

The family-owned company was established in 1810, and provides commercial, residential, industrial, design and building services across multiple sectors. Collen Construction maintains that ISO 45001 certification will help position it for further expansion.

"Collen Construction is well-placed for growth, and we want to ensure our systems both in Ireland and Europe are best in class. As safety is an integral part of the company's daily operations, we recognise the importance of continuous improvement," said Tommy Drumm, Collen Construction Managing Director.

Other Irish companies in the process of adopting ISO 45001 are Antaris Consulting, Co Limerick and Aptar Ballinasloe Ltd, Co Galway.