The Unexpected Consequences of ISO 9001

ISO 9001

The International Organization of Standardization (ISO) is an independent organization of 162 member countries’ standards organizations.  Among the organization’s various voluntary standards is the Quality Management System standard ISO 9001.  Providing management system guidelines to improve product quality, ISO 9001 is the most widely adopted management system in the world.

ISO 9001’s purpose is to provide management system guidelines to improve the quality of products that a company produces.  However, it not only improves quality management, overall product quality, and by extension profitability, it improves workplace safety.

While improved workplace safety is not an intended outcome of ISO 9001 certification, it is not a stretch to understand how it comes about.  One cause of poor quality products can easily be a disorganized workplace.  Poor quality is not the only effect of that disorganization, though; it is very easy for employee safety to be ignored in the mess, leading to accidents and injuries.  Adopting ISO 9001 forces companies to improve their organization as a part of improving quality, allowing for a safer workplace.

Sijeong Lim and Aseem Prakash recently wrote an article entitled “From Quality Control to Labor Protection: ISO 9001 and Workplace Safety, 1993-2012“.  The full article goes into detail on the findings of their study, which is nicely summarized in a shorter article published for The Regulatory Review, “The Unexpected Consequences of Private Regulatory Standards“.

By studying a panel dataset from 92 countries over the course of 12 years, the authors found that, all else equal, a 1 percent increase in the country-level ISO 9001 certifications corresponds to a 0.13 percent decrease in fatal occupational injuries.  This correlation is even more significant when you consider the fact that, on average, certifications have grown by 20 percent each year.  This means that, all else equal, a country can expect a 2.6 percent decline in the fatal occupational injury rate to accompany the 20 percent increase in ISO 9001 certifications.

SLIPNOT Metal Safety Flooring is proud to be ISO 9001:2015 certified.

Resources:, “The Unexpected Consequences of Private Regulatory Standards“, “From Quality Control to Labor Protection: ISO 9001 and Workplace Safety, 1993-2012

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