ISO 45001: International Standard for Occupational Health & Safety Moves closer

It has been eight years since the British Standard for Occupational Health & Safety Management (OHSAS 18001) was last revised.In the absence of an international standard, OHSAS 18001 has gained a strong position in the certification market both in the UK and overseas, and is now accepted as (through accredited bodies) as an entry to SSIP certification (Safety Schemes in Procurement).However, ISO have recently been working on an international standard for occupational health and safety and in January 2016 a draft international standard (DIS) was released, with a planned publication date around October 2016, however there are still some huddles still to over come.

Developing ISO 45001

Sadly ISO 18001 already exists as a standard for Information technology — Radio frequency identification for item management — Application requirements profiles, so ISO 45001 is the alternative name.

ISO 45001 has been developed using OHSAS 18001 as the starting point, however with input from standards bodies and stakeholders across the world, many different views and regulatory regimes are being converged to create this standard.

Consideration of the Organisational Context in Clause 4 and Leadership in Clause 5 provides completely new concepts that can be used to make the system relevant to all sizes and types of organisations, operating in diverse territories around the world.

ISO 45001 Structure

As with all modern management system standards, ISO 45001 has been developed using the Annex SL structure, which will make integrating the standard with others much easier.

Aside from this, you can clearly identify much of the OHSAS 18001 text within the draft standard.

Read more about Annex SL, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 transitions.

ISO 45001 Key Features

As with other Annex SL based systems, ISO 45001 recognises that organisations may need outside help to effectively operate it’s OH&S Management System or operate processes effectively. Outsourced processes and sub-contractors feature highly in the standard, the organisation is expected to exercises its influence in the supply chain to improve occupational health & safety for all interested parties.

Worker Involvement

Worker Involvement is a new term in this standard, and makes it clear that workers from all levels should be involved in health & safety.

There may be challenges for organisations to implement and evidence this, particularly those managing diverse languages and cultures within their operations.

It could be suggested that strong leadership and communication in health & safety matters would encourage worker involvement, and thinking creatively about how to obtain worker feedback may lead to better responses.

Health & Safety Culture

We have long recognised the need to embed occupational health & safety in to an organisation’s culture, and the spirit of ISO 45001 seems to support this concept.

Considering the context of your organisation properly will support an effective health and safety culture.

Implementing and Transition to ISO 45001

Annex A of ISO 45001 will include some interpretation guidance, which will help those responsible for implementing the standard to some extent.

However, BSI are expected to develop a companion British Standard or guidance document which will provide much more detailed advice, in the same spirit OHSAS 18002:2008 has previously.

It appears that the intention is to provide a three-year certification transition framework from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001 as you would get with other revised standards.

What will happen to OHSAS 18001?

Although instinctively ISO 45001 appears to be a replacement for OHSAS 18001, they are managed by different committees and in theory could live side by side.

General industry opinion though suggests that, provided the OHSAS 18001 committee are happy with the content of ISO 45001, OHSAS 18001 will be withdrawn. The British Standard was developed originally because there was no international standard available.

It could also create confusion in the market place if there were two OH&S standards available.

Find More Information About ISO 45001

Assent’s Transitions Page: 

Buy the Draft International Standard (DIS) from the BSI Shop.

ISO 45001 OHSAS 18001 Revision Page: … ISO-45001/


Robert Clements
Robert Clements
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