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ISO 45001

ISO 45001 for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems was released in March 2018 with a view to reducing instances of workplace accidents and occupational disease.


Health and Safety is at the core of any business’s operations. It safeguards the wellbeing of employees, helps create a harmonious and productive working environment and protects an organisation’s reputation. Health and Safety is constantly buffeted by the winds of legislation, industrial innovation and business management practice. As such, management system models need to change to help businesses fulfil their obligations to their employees, keep themselves on the right side of compliance, and assist the business in delivering its intended results.

ISO 45001 for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems was released in March 2018 with a view to reducing instances of workplace accidents and occupational disease. We now have a good nine months of implementing the standard to reflect on it. Let’s take a look at the new system and how it relates to your business.

Is ISO 45001 intended to replace OHSAS 18001?

Yes, that’s absolutely right! OHSAS 18001 is, at present, the most widely adopted workplace health and safety standard. Yet, while ISO 45001 uses some key concepts from OHSAS 18001, it’s been updated to reflect the high level structure, Annex SL, which it being used to align a number of different ISO Standards.   

Some key differences from OHSAS18001 include;

● Greater emphasis on integrating workplace health and safety into daily operations, instead of treating it as an operational “add-on”.

● Emphasis on a process-based, rather than a procedure-based approach.

● Like other ISO standards, ISO 45001 requires an understating the organisation’s greater context.

● Emphasis on Worker Consultation and Participation

● Emphasis on Leadership

Is my OHSAS 18001 certificate still valid?

For the moment, yes. You have 3 years to update to ISO 45001. By 2021 your OHSAS 18001 certification will no longer be valid (providing there are no ‘extensions’ as has recently occurred with ISO9001).  You will need to ‘upgrade’ to this ISO standard or potentially affect your relationships with customers and regulators, whilst also creating extra work or worse still falling at the first hurdle when tendering for some new contracts. Luckily, if you have a health and safety management system, you may well have another one, and therefore you might have done the vast majority of the work required!

How Does ISO 45001 relate to other ISO standards?

ISO 45001 uses a structure that is built around the Plan-Do-Check-Act approach that is inherent in other ISO standards and widely regarded as best management practice.  As such, if you already use ISO 14001:2015 for Environmental Management Systems, or ISO 9001:2015 for Quality Management Systems, you will already have much of the key infrastructure in place, for example you may already be:

● Tracking compliance obligation

● Undertaking management reviews

● Implementing monitoring and measurement systems

● Carrying out internal audits

● Taking improvement action

● Having an infrastructure for continuous improvement.

So if you’re already using other ISO standards it’s much easier to integrate the specifics of ISO 45001.

How does my business benefit from ISO 45001 certification?

Even if you don’t pursue ISO 45001 certification, you should still consider implementing the system as it represents best practice and provides a framework for legislative compliance.  With recent changes to the Sentencing Guidelines now creating a legal environment where huge fines and jail sentences are far more common, using this model of best practice is a sure fire way of reducing this risk.

However, certification will benefit your business in a number of ways. It helps to simultaneously ensure best practice while also providing a framework for assuring compliance through review of your system. It sends a clear message to your employees that you are committed to their safety and wellbeing. It also communicates to your customers and shareholders that you are committed to operating at the highest standard. As an early adopter, you’ll get a head start on your competitors!

The time to certification / transition is now!

3 years may seem like a long time, but depending on your starting point, you may have some way to go in implementing the infrastructure for a successful and seamless transition that doesn’t impinge on your productivity. If you are certifying for the first time, the process can open previously closed customer doors to you, for doing little more than you are already doing.  It won’t be too long before ISO45001 is considered a pre-requisite for working with some higher risk customers, similar to the way ISO9001 is used currently as a measure of supplier quality.


How we can help you

At Risg Solutions we specialise in creating customised health, safety, environmental, fire and quality assurance solutions for businesses just like yours. We have been involved in health and safety and OHSAS18001 since late 2000 and are highly conversant in the ISO 45001 standard and how it applies to your operations and practices.

Get in touch with us today to hear more about what we can do for you.