As the new international standard for an Occupational Health and Safety Management System, ISO 45001 has replaced the former standard OHSAS 18001. In this article, we look at the importance of ISO 45001 certification to business owners and the history of OHSAS 18001 certification.
ISO 45001 is a new international standard that is designed to improve workplace safety and reduce the risk of occupational hazards, incidents and accidents. When implemented effectively, fewer people should succumb to workplace injuries and illnesses – and companies should face fewer threats of legal action as a result of preventable accidents.
The new standard, ISO 45001, takes an all-encompassing view of a company’s processes and operations to ensure that occupational health and safety management system requirements are embedded throughout. Rather than viewing workplace health and safety as a standalone issue, business owners and managers should seek to integrate occupational health and safety into every aspect of their operations to achieve compliance with ISO 45001.
If you’re not familiar with the requirements with ISO 45001, it’s time to get up to speed. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has adopted a new high-level structure known as Annex SL, which should make it easier for companies to interpret standards and achieve compliance, but it’s important to seek advice if you’re unsure how to meet the requirements of the new standard.
Once you’ve identified the themes underpinning ISO 45001, you’ll be ready to undertake a gap analysis to determine how your company measures up. If you’ve already been implementing health and safety protocols to adhere to OHSAS 18001, achieving compliance with ISO 45001 might be relatively straightforward. Alternatively, more planning and implementation work may be needed if you’re starting from scratch.
OHSAS 18001 was a British standard used to establish and regulate occupational health and safety management systems and was widely used internationally. First published in 1999 by the British Standards Institution (BSI), a subsequent update resulted in OHSAS 18001:2007 being adopted to enhance workplace safety under the framework.
Until 2018, OHSAS 18001 had been used by companies worldwide to highlight their commitment to workplace health and safety and has been the benchmark for global occupational health and safety management systems.
However, when the ISO announced the creation of ISO 45001, the BSI cancelled OHSAS 18001 in favor of the new international standard. While OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001 have the same overriding objective – the improvement of occupational health and safety management – there are distinct differences between the two standards. Due to this, companies already compliant with OHSAS 18001 will need to inspect their current health and safety systems and implement modifications to achieve compliance with the new ISO 45001 standard.
Although ISO 45001 is effectively replacing OHSAS 18001, there are notable differences between the two standards, such as:
The OHSAS 18001 provided a relatively small amount of guidance with regard to establishing the scope of the standard in relation to the context of a company. Within ISO 45001, there is a more focused approach to the businesses’ context and extra emphasis on assessing internal and external factors that could affect occupational health and safety management systems.
Both standards incorporate risk analysis in relation to occupational hazards, but ISO 45001 places a greater emphasis on risk and opportunity. This complements the added focus on a top-down business approach to occupational health and safety objective setting and the need to embed health and safety goals into a company’s business strategy.
To achieve ISO 45001 compliance, businesses will need to exemplify clear communication and documentation strategies to ensure that all workers are notified of relevant changes to occupational health and safety management systems. Additionally, businesses must determine what constitutes worker competency with regard to health and safety and ensure that adequate training and resources are provided to enable workers to reach this level.
The new standard, ISO 45001, is more detailed in its requirements in relation to performance evaluation. For example, it contains clauses on methods of monitoring and measuring performance, when performance evaluations should be undertaken, and when the information obtained should be assessed and communicated.
While the above examples highlight some of the differences between OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001, they are not an exhaustive list of all of the changes. Even companies that are fully compliant with OHSAS 18001 will need to examine the requirements of ISO 45001 carefully to determine how to achieve compliance with the new standard.
There are numerous advantages associated with being an ISO 45001 certified company, which is why so many companies are choosing to modify their existing occupational health and safety management systems and are arranging ISO 45001 certification audits.
Following a successful ISO 45001 certification audit, you’ll be eligible to bid for contracts only available to ISO 45001 certified businesses. Additionally, you may find that critical costs, such as insurance premiums, are reduced when you can exemplify optimal occupational health and safety management system standards via ISO 45001 certification.
Furthermore, achieving ISO 45001 certification can have a positive impact on existing and future stakeholders as it demonstrates a commitment to social sustainability, while the reputational benefits can lead to increased opportunities and enhanced brand awareness.
Of course, the main benefit associated with ISO 45001 certification is the increase in workplace health and safety, which should follow. With better occupational health and safety management systems in place and an international framework that demands continual improvement, both workers and businesses can look forward to safer working environments.
To learn more or to discuss your ISO 45001 certification today, get in touch with our friendly team now.