GSA Insights: Why the new ISO 45001 Health & Safety Standard may be important for your business


ISO 45001 is the new international standard that was just released on March 12 of this year and will be used by organizations as a guide of the minimal requirements in designing and implementing an effective Occupational Health & Safety Management System (OHSMS). As stated by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the outcome of an OHSMS is “to enable organizations to provide safe and healthy workplaces by preventing work-related injury and ill health, as well as by proactively improving its OH&S performance.”

Russell Ballard
Sr. Project Manager – HRP Associates, Inc.

ISO 45001 will be replacing the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001 standard that was last revised in 2008. The new standard will no longer be under the direction of OHSAS; rather it has been updated and will now be under ISO, the world's largest developer of voluntary international standards. Organizations that are registered to OHSAS 18001 will be required to adopt the new requirements of the 2018 edition and be certified (audited) by a Registrar within three years.

So, what are the main changes from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001, and what do they mean for your company?

New Common Clause Structure
ISO 45001 has adopted the new Annex SL structure that organizes requirements to follow the implementation and maintenance flow of leadership, planning, support, control, measurement and improvement. The biggest benefit of this structure will be for organizations that have, or would like to be registered to, other ISO management systems. Popular management systems that organizations will consider integration with ISO 45001 will be ISO 9001 (quality) and ISO 14001 (environmental).

Expanding the Focus on Risk
Under “Clause 4 - Context of the Organization”, a major new requirement is the identification of internal and external issues and interested parties that may affect the organization’s ability to achieve the intended outcomes of the OHSMS. The previous focus was directed towards identifying the risks and opportunities within the operational processes. Now organizations must show consideration of potential issues such as technology, competition, culture, organizational structure, customers and suppliers.

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Increasing Management’s Responsibility
“Clause 5 – Leadership & Worker Responsibility” has shifted more accountability for the performance of the OHSMS to top management (those who have influence over resources). Top management will need to demonstrate leadership and commitment through promoting a culture in the organization that supports the OHSMS and ensuring the organization establishes and implements a process for consultation and participation of workers. The identified methods for employees to be engaged in the management system have significantly increased in ISO 45001.

Focus on Opportunities & Management of Change
The term “opportunity” is noted multiple times in “Clause 6 – Planning” and has been defined in the standard as “circumstances that can lead to improvement of OH&S performance.” Therefore, the focus shifts from not just mitigating the risk of the hazard, but also proactively integrating safety at the earliest stages of changes such as new product development and facility modifications. Other opportunities to consider are employee engagement, collaboration with other entities, benchmarking and technological advancements.

Supplies, Contractors and Outsourcing
Clause 8.4.1 “Procurement” has been added under “Operational Planning and Control” in order to expand the scope of the management system outside of the walls of the facility. Are there opportunities to eliminate or substitute hazardous materials coming into the facility and upgrade supplies used for safety? Is contractor competence assessed, hazardous conditions identified and supervision performed? Do companies that perform work on your behalf have similar safety programs? Consideration will be needed for the external processes over which you have influence.

Communication and Monitoring Plans
Under “Clause 7 – Support,” more requirements have been added to the internal and external communication process with organizations now having to show that there is a proactive plan on “who,” “what” and “how” each type of expected health and safety communication will occur. More emphasis has been placed on communication to facilitate employee participation in continuous improvement (for example, discussion of objectives and programs). A plan is also required to be in place under Clause 9 – Performance Evaluation. Parameters will not only be needed for how and when monitoring and measurements are to be performed, but also how and when those measurements are to be analyzed regarding the overall occupational health and safety performance of the organization. The method for determining performance and the review of performance will be the responsibility of top management.

The evolution in requirements for ISO 45001 has been adopted in order to improve the structure, processes and application of occupational, health and safety management systems. Your organization’s health and safety performance, providing safe and healthy workplaces and preventing work-related injuries, can be improved by implementing this standard. HRP stands ready to assist organizations in making this progression.

Russell Ballard has more than 11 years of experience as an environmental, health and safety manager and consultant. Within those 11 years, Mr. Ballard has assisted many organizations of different scopes and sizes in the creation, management, and improvement of Environmental and Health & Safety Management Systems. Mr. Ballard has performed over 100 surveillance and certification Registrar audits to the ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 standards.

Contact Russell at 864-289-0311 or by email

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