Posted on Leave a comment

ISO 45001 – Occupational health and safety the Standard is Coming to your countries safety standards

ISO 45001 will be the first truly international standard for managing occupational health and safety. It is a set of requirements which provide organizations with a framework to build an effective management system to cater to their own particular OH&S needs.The burden of occupational injuries and diseases is significant, both for employers and the wider economy, resulting in losses from early retirements, staff absence and rising insurance premiums. Once ISO 45001 publishes there will be a three year period to migrate from OHSAS 18001. Organizations certified to OHSAS 18001 should use that three year period to evolve their current OH&S management system to meet the requirements of the new standard.

ISO 45001 is likely to improve your OH&S performance – both short and long term. This not only means fewer incidents and accidents but improved worker health for years to come. Alongside the primary human benefits, putting ISO 45001 into an organization will help reduced productivity lost through incidents and workers being absent due to sickness. It will also protect companies from potentially disastrous legal action by ensuring that adequate planning takes place and measures implemented to protect workers from actual and foreseeable risks.  Because the standard employs risk-based thinking throughout and includes requirements for emergency planning it also helps build organizational resilience.

How can health and safety professionals learn more about starting on the road to achieving ISO accreditation?

BSI and other leading certification bodies offer free advice as well as more in-depth training to potential users of the standard and it is worth looking on relevant websites. Organizations already certified to OHSAS 18001 or another OH&S management system standard (such as  the Canadian Z1000 or the American Z10), should also talk to their existing certification body and ask what plans are in place for migrating from one standard to the other.

When they thought about ISO 45001, obviously, the overall aim of the standard remains the same and those familiar with OHSAS 18001 will recognize many of the themes in the new ISO standard. However, there have been some very interesting developments related to the new rules for developing International Management System Standards (for more information, see Annex SL of the ISO Directives). For example, there is now a much stronger focus on the “context” of an organization as well as a stronger role for top management and leadership.

To combat the problem, ISO is developing a new standard, ISO 45001 Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements, that will help organizations reduce this burden by providing a framework to improve employee safety, reduce workplace risks and create better, safer working conditions, all over the world.

The standard is currently being developed by a committee of occupational health and safety experts, and will follow other generic management system approaches such as ISO 14001 and ISO 9001. It will take into account other International Standards in this area such as OHSAS 18001, the International Labour Organization’s ILO-OSH Guidelines, various national standards and the ILO’s international labour standards and conventions.

ISO 45001 is intended for use by any organization, regardless of its size or the nature of its work, and can be integrated into other health and safety programs such as worker wellness and wellbeing. It also addresses many, if not all, legal requirements in this area.

In the new standard, an organization has to look beyond its immediate health and safety issues and take into account what the wider society expects of it. Organizations have to think about their contractors and suppliers as well as, for example, how their work might affect their neighbours in the surrounding area. This is much wider than just focusing on the conditions for internal employees and means organizations cannot just contract out risk.

And how is the role of the organization’s leadership different?

Well, ISO 45001 insists that these occupational health and safety aspects now be embodied in the overall management system of the organization, requiring a much stronger buy-in from its management and leadership. This will be a big change for users who may currently delegate responsibility to a safety manager rather than integrate this entirely into the organization’s operations. ISO 45001 requires health and safety aspects to be part of an overall management system and no longer just an added extra.

OHSAS 18001 is a widely adopted standard and has been very successful. Why are we developing an ISO standard?

There are a number of reasons for looking at this topic using the ISO system. Firstly, many organizations are already using a number of ISO management system standards, so an occupational health and safety tool that can be easily integrated into this makes things a lot easier. In particular, we have focused on easy integration with ISO 14001 as many organizations, especially small businesses, have one person that looks after both safety and environmental concerns. In addition, we hope that the ISO name and recognition will give further credibility to the standard and drive wider adoption.

However, one of the really fantastic things about this ISO project has been the involvement of a really wide variety of organizations and countries. I was involved in the first meeting leading to OHSAS 18001 over 20 years ago, and so it is personally really exciting for me to see today the sheer number of countries actively involved in the standard’s development. Involvement from countries across the globe, from Europe and America, but also Africa, Asia and South America, will help us to create a tool that will work for everyone.

We have also had strong involvement from the International Labour Organization (ILO), who are experts on the topic and have some very valuable insights to bring to the table.

Of course, with this many stakeholders, the development work isn’t always easy and there are disagreements. But to have so many people involved has been wonderful and gives me hope that we are on track to providing a tool that can be used by any organization, within any regulatory framework, in any country.

Implementing a strong occupational health and safety management system helps organizations reduce accidents and ill health, avoid costly prosecutions, perhaps even reduce insurance costs, as well as create a culture of positivity in the organization when its people see that their needs are being taken into account.

If your company follows and or decides that ISO is right for you in Health and Safety

Mandatory documents and records required by DIS/ISO 45001:2016

Here are the documents you need to produce if you want to be compliant with ISO 45001:

  • Scope of the OH&SMS(clause 4.3)
  • OH&S Policy(clause 5.2)
  • Roles and responsibilities (clause 5.3)
  • OH&S risksand OH&S opportunities (clause 6.1.1)
  • Processes needed to address risks and opportunities (clause 6.1.1)
  • Methodology and criteria for assessment of OH&S risks (clause 6.1.2)
  • OH&S objectives and plans (clause 6.2.2)
  • Communication (clause 7.4)
  • Operational controls (clause 8.1.1)
  • Emergency preparedness and response process (clause 8.6)

And here are the mandatory records:

  • Applicable legal and other requirements (clause 6.1.3)
  • Records of training, skills, experience and qualifications (clause 7.2)
  • Monitoring and measurement results (clause 9.1)
  • Calibration and verification of monitoring and measuring equipment (clause 9.1)
  • Evaluation of compliance obligations (clause 9.1.2)
  • Internal auditprogram (clause 9.2.2)
  • Results of internal audits (clause 9.2.2)
  • Results of the management review (clause 9.3)
  • Incidents and nonconformities (clause 10.1)
  • Results of corrective actions (clause 10.1)

Non-mandatory documents

No system exists using only the mandatory documents. There are numerous non-mandatory documents that can be used for ISO 45001 implementation. However, I find these non-mandatory documents to be most commonly used:

The good thing is that the standard went in the same direction as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 regarding the approach to documents and records, and the requirements are the same for common requirements of those standards. On the other hand, it dropped some theoretical requirements compared to OHSAS 18001, such as documenting OH&SMS Elements & their interaction. In this way the standard emphasizes demonstration of OH&S management system effectiveness rather than writing endless theoretical procedures.


ISO 45001 holds great appeal for international organisations. This is could be not only because ISO has more universal appeal  than national standards, but also because this standard is the natural successor to what many see as an enhancement of 18001 (which has over 90,000 organisations working to its requirements). Also, it is an integrated management standard, so those already working to 9001 and 14001 should already have systems in place to achieve 45001, without further significant expenditure.  This standard transcends regional boundaries which is important to the increasing globalised nature of organisations.  Furthermore there is a growing acceptance that the costs of compliance are less than the costs of failures.  Those costs are not just financial but also reputational, ethical, social and moral.  One only needs to remember Deepwater Horizon to understand those issues.

In line with changes of philosophy and policies of governments, however reluctantly in the face of international pressure, there is a change of attitudes to worker’s rights, management responsibility and corporate ethics.

Terry Penney

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.