ISO 45001 - a new standard in occupational health & safety

In March 2018 a new standard – ISO 45001:2018 – was published, and over the next three years it will replace OHSAS 18001.

In March 2018 a new standard – ISO 45001:2018 – was published, and over the next three years it will replace OHSAS 18001.

BS OHSAS 18001 was first published in 1999 and became a recognised occupational health and safety management system. However, ISO 45001 is significant in that it is the first international standard dealing with health and safety at work and its aim is to substantially improve levels of workplace safety.

The new standard is aimed at the top management of an organisation and its objective is to provide a safe and healthy place of work for all employees and visitors. 

The main differences between OHAS 18001 and ISO 45001

The overall aim of ISO 45001 remains the same as its predecessor, namely to provide a safe and healthy environment for all employees of, and visitors to, an organisation.

One of the key benefits however, of the move to an ISO standard is that it is will have better international recognition and as such will have wider reach and influence.

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As with all new ISO standards, ISO 45001 will adhere to the same common language and structure of Annex SL. This means that it shares a high-level structure (HLS), core text and terms and definitions with other ISO management systems standards such as ISO 9001:2015 (quality management) and ISO 14001:2015 (environmental management). As a result it will make it much easier to integrate ISO 45001 with other management systems.  

A significant change in ISO 45001 is that it focuses on the business process and requires the integration of health and safety into the overall management system of the organisation. An organisation must no longer just consider the health and safety issues that impact directly on their business. They must now also consider health and safety in the context of any impact their actions may have on the wider community.

Another change is that whereas OHAS 18001 focussed on managing risks, ISO 45001 considers both risks and opportunities. It highlights the need to follow up any opportunities that arise out of hazard identification and risk assessment to improve the management system.

Companies who are already accredited to OHSAS 18001 will have three years in which to transition to the new standard. To minimise disruption and ensure a smooth introduction of ISO 45001:2018, speak to your BASEC Auditor about a transition plan.