UPDATE! The latest on ISO 45001

  • ISO 45001

It was back in 2013 when we first unveiled rumours of OHSAS 18001 being taken under the wing of ISO, to form an internationally recognised standard.

The following year saw progress, with a draft version of the newly titled ISO 45001 being issued for comment. Since then, timescales have slipped due the vote on the initial draft failing.


As a result of this, the Working Group responsible for the standard was asked to try again. This has added a year to the previously anticipated timescales, with the new Draft International Standard (DIS) muted for release in April/May 2017.

What have been the issues?

Developing an international standard is difficult, as it has to be effective yet general enough so that it can be adopted worldwide. Health and Safety is very sensitive to this, given the level of resource some countries have versus others.

Specifically to ISO 45001, there have been issues with:

  • The “fulfilment of” or “compliance with” legal requirements
  • The editing of notes to avoid the inclusion of requirements
  • The editing of the term ‘consultation’ due to its definition
  • Alignment with ISO 12001 and deviation from the Annex SL text
  • The term “worker” and its definition
  • Clause 5.4 on Participation and Consultation

What are the next steps?

Assuming the DIS is successful, progress towards the finished standard is then usually swift. Currently, it’s anticipated that Certification Bodies will begin preparation in the 2nd Quarter of 2017 so that certification to ISO 45001 can commence that year.

Our plan is to join the ‘Early Adopter’ scheme, as we did for the recently revised ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards. This will require a volunteer client to migrate to the new standard as part of the assessment program by UKAS – the UK’s National Accreditation Body.

By doing this, clients will then be in a position to benefit from being one of the first to adopt the latest in best practice for health and safety management.

How different will ISO 45001 be from OHSAS 18001?

The aforementioned ‘Annex SL’ is a new high-level structure developed by ISO to create better continuity across their management standards. The benefits for you – the end user – are:

  • Common terms and definitions to make life easier
  • Reduced bureaucracy
  • Better implementation, integration and maintenance of standards
  • Easier to demonstrate the benefits of having robust management systems in place

Fundamentally, ISO 45001 is still similar to OHSAS 18001. Those operating an effective Occupational Health and Safety Management System should not be concerned; the new standard is simply an opportunity to look for improvement and demonstrate best practice.

Let’s take a look at what’s changing:

  • Organisations will have to look at the wider context of Health and Safety, such as what society expects from them.
  • There are stronger links between Occupational Health and Safety strategy and the organisation’s overall strategy.
  • Top management have to show a strong leadership role with respect to the Management System.
  • ISO 45001 focuses on identifying and controlling risks rather than hazards.
  • Organisations will have to take into account how suppliers and contractors are managing their risks.
  • It’s less prescriptive – the new term “documented information” allows flexibility as long as information is maintained to the extent necessary to have confidence that the processes have been carried out as planned.
  • Logically, incidents are now a part of the same sub-clause as nonconformities and corrective actions.

What support will be provided in migrating?

Closer to the time, we’ll be offering a free Seminar covering the fundamentals. This will be supported by our optional Gap Analysis service, which is an audit to help map out what is required in order to make a confident migration to the standard for those with OHSAS 18001 already in place.

To keep up-to-date with the developments of ISO 45001, sign up to our eNewsletter using the form below. You can also follow us on LinkedIn.


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Written by Lee Styles

HSMS Scheme Manager - Company expert for 'Occupational Health and Safety' Standards; OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001. Additional assessment expertise for the following standards; ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 27001.