In February 2021, Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) continues to have a firm grip on the world. Not only in private everyday life, but also and especially in the workplace, the risk of infection is high. Strict adherence to rules of conduct and official regulations is the be-all and end-all to protect oneself and others from the disease. In the working world, however, one thing is particularly important: the ability of companies to react quickly and flexibly to changing situations - the new ISO/PAS 45005 guidance can be a great help in this respect.


Publicly available standard ISO/PAS 45005: Occupational health and safety management - General guidelines for safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic was published in English in December 2020.

The standard provides international occupational health and safety (OHS) guidelines aimed at managing the effects of the Corona pandemic in the workplace. The document can be viewed in full on the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) website.

Guidelines for companies of all types

ISO 45005 is based on the BSI Safe Working Guidance, which was published in May 2020. The guidance contains 14 chapters and two annexes, A and B. These hold practical considerations for those looking to implement COVID-19 measures in an organization.

The standard was issued in the midst of the Corona pandemic and makes specific reference to it. Regardless, the approach is appropriate for any similar type of infectious event and, as a result, will help organizations prepare for and deal with such events over the long term.

ISO 45005 takes effect at management level

Companies of any industry, type and size can implement the guidelines to improve the health protection of their employees, as well as other interested parties, in times of pandemic.

"The guidance addresses the pandemic situation in companies at the management level: risk-based and with practical guidance on possible actions."

The global guidelines are equally helpful for those companies that are restarting or completely reopening operations after a pandemic-related closure.

Users of ISO management system standards, but especially those of the international standard for occupational safety and health (OHS), ISO 45001, can integrate the guidelines directly into their management system via the PDCA cycle.

The chapters of ISO/PAS 45005

The numbering of the chapters of the ISO 45005 guide does not match the common basic structure (HLS) of ISO management system standards, for example ISO 45001. Nevertheless, a clear assignment can be made.

PLAN - chapters 4 to 8: Plan what the organization needs to work safely.

4. Plan and assess risks
5. Suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases
6. Mental health and well-being
7. Inclusion
8. Resources

DO - chapters 9 to 12: Carry out the planned action.

9. Communication
10. Hygiene
11. Use of personal protective equipment
12. Operation/activities

CHECK - chapters 13: Check if the measure is working

13. Evaluation of performance

ACT - chapters 14: Identify possible weaknesses and solutions

14. Continuous improvement

ISO 45005 - Great benefits for companies

The international guideline focuses on a risk- and practice-oriented approach:

  • Compact presentation with a focus on pandemic situations
  • Assessment of risks associated with pandemics (specifically COVID-19)
  • Practical guidance on how to deal with risks
  • Examples of how to implement measures
  • Inclusion of multiple sites
  • Reduction of illness-related absences even for more benign infections
  • Support in the preparation of response plans with a view to change
  • integration of the guidelines into the PDCA cycle of an existing OHS management system according to ISO 45001, but also into other management systems based on ISO standards
  • Continuous adjustments to changing situations

Government action on occupational health and safety - an example from Germany

When it comes to occupational health and safety, the German federal government is making great efforts to keep its regulations up to date and to adapt them promptly to developments in the Covid 19 pandemic.

The "SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Health and Safety Regulation" issued by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (BMAS) in August 2020 was most recently supplemented by a new SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (Corona ArbSchV) on January 21, 2021. It contains, in addition to the already existing, now generally known requirements, tightened measures to ensure the health protection of employees.

These include, above all, the following obligation:

  • Offer of home office
  • Stricter rules on keeping your distance
  • Stricter rules on wearing mouth/nose protection
  • Requirements on the maximum occupancy of rooms by personnel
  • Provision of face masks by the employer

DQS - Who we are


  • First certification body for management systems and processes in Germany
  • Neutral, independent and objective
  • Accredited and approved for more than 200 international regulations and recognized standards
  • Worldwide network of industry-experienced auditors, directly from the management level
  • Internationally recognized certificates


What we can do for you in times of Covid-19

Drawing on external expertise is a tried-and-tested tool: the view from outside helps to discover weak points in day-to-day operations and to obtain valuable support in identifying risks and implementing measures. In connection with the SARS-CoV-2 occupational health and safety standard and ISO 45005, our auditors assess whether your company:

  • Has taken necessary precautionary measures
  • Takes into account all documentation aspects and obligations
  • Recognizes risks and derives appropriate measures
  • Has documented whether the measures are appropriate according to the risk assessment
  • Has potential for improvement
  • Has risks in the supply chain

Our assessment takes place on site on one day. At the end, your company will receive a report and a certificate.

NOTE: We are also closely monitoring developments around the spread of COVID-19 and are putting the health of our employees, auditors and customers at the center of all decisions. Answers to questions that are increasingly reaching us can be found on our website.

Note: ISO 45001 has replaced BS OHSAS 18001

On September 30, 2021, the British standard OHSAS 18001, which has been relevant for occupational health and safety management for more than 20 years, was replaced by ISO 45001.

Organizations that have a certified management system are generally familiar with the replacement procedure and the transition periods set by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF). As with the revision of both ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, a three-year transition period was set for the changeover. It was initially scheduled to end on March 11, 2021, but was extended by six months by the IAF due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

Now all certificates according to BS OHSAS 18001 have lost their validity. The old standard has been superseded.

In principle, DQS had still carried out certifications according to the old standard last year - but only until September 30, 2020. After that date, the financial cost of certification was no longer justifiable.

Altan Dayankac

Global Program Manager and Senior Sustainability Manager of DQS Group and international expert on numerous sustainability, climate, environmental, and occupational safety topics. Altan Dayankac also contributes his expertise as an author and moderator to HSE and sustainability committees and at various professional events.