The International Labour Organization estimates that more than 2.78 million fatalities result from workplace accidents and occupational disease, with 374 million non-fatal incidents annually. 

All told, the cost adds up to a staggering 3.94% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) every year. 

ISO 45001 for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems was released in March 2018 in hopes of making a meaningful improvement in these numbers. Today we’re looking at frequently asked questions about the new standard, including how it compares to OHSAS 18001 and how it fits with other ISO standards.

1.What’s the Difference Between ISO 45001 and OHSAS 18001?

ISO 45001 is intended to replace OHSAS 18001, currently the most widely adopted workplace health and safety standard. At the same time, ISO has been clear that even though ISO 45001 uses key concepts from OHSAS 18001, it is its own separate standard and not an update. 

ISO points out key differences of ISO 45001 compared to OHSAS 18001 such as:

  • The new standard uses a process-based approach rather than a procedure-based approach. 
  • ISO 45001, like other ISO standards, requires understating the organization’s larger context and views of all interested parties. 
  • The need to integrate workplace health and safety into daily operations, rather than treating it as a standalone process.

2.How Long Are OHSAS 18001 Certificates Valid?

If you’re already certified to OHSAS 18001, you’ll have three years to transition to ISO 45001. That means by 2021, you will no longer be able to certify to OHSAS 18001.

3.How Does ISO 45001 Relate to Other ISO Standards?

Like all recent ISO standard releases, ISO 45001 uses a common high-level structure that makes it easier to integrate multiple standards within a single management system. This structure is built around the Plan-Do-Check-Act approach recognized as a best practice in mature organizations.

That means if you already use ISO 9001 for Quality Management Systems or ISO 14001 for Environmental Management Systems, you may already have many of the key structural elements in place like:

  • Monitoring and measurement systems
  • Compliance obligation tracking
  • Management review
  • Internal audits
  • Corrective action 
  • Continuous improvement processes

The point is that once you have these processes in place, it’s just a matter of adding on the specifics of ISO 45001 or any other ISO standard you want to follow. It makes it easier to certify to multiple standards, or mix and match to create your own custom management system.

4.Who Should Certify to ISO 45001?

Any company will benefit from implementing a system that aligns with ISO 45001 principles, whether or not they pursue formal certification. That’s because ISO 45001 is built around recognized best practices in health and safety, and is set to become the primary global workplace safety standard in coming years.

5.What are the Benefits of ISO 45001 Certification?

While many organizations may not decide to formally certify to ISO 45001, doing so does have certain benefits. For example, certification can:

  • Send a powerful signal to customers, employees, the public and other stakeholders that you’re committed to workplace safety. 
  • Make sure you’re in compliance with workplace health and safety laws and requirements.
  • Help reduce safety incidents and associated costs.
  • Improve overall efficiency and quality of manufacturing processes.

6.What Should We Be Doing Now to Transition?

Three years may sound like a lot of time, but that all depends on where your starting point is. As you begin making the transition, you’ll want to:

  • Download the ISO 45001:2018 standard and start digging in to the requirements.
  • Attend any necessary training to understand the requirements and what you’ll need for compliance.
  • Analyze the needs of interested parties and all internal and external factors that influence health and safety performance in your organization.
  • Perform a gap analysis based on where your EHS Management System is now and what new requirements you will need to incorporate.
  • Determine a reasonable timeline for implementing any new processes and performance metrics.
  • Evaluate whether you will be able to achieve this timeline with internal resources, or whether bringing in an external consultant would be more effective.

Whether or not you decide to officially certify to ISO 45001, all companies have the responsibility to put systems in place to avoid preventable safety incidents. 

Ensuring employees return safely home every day can truly transform a business, from boosting employee morale to manufacturing efficiency to profits and sustainability as a whole.