Get 4 FREE months of Conformio to implement ISO 27001

First glance at ISO/DIS 45001 – How different is it from OHSAS 18001?

It was about time that the ISO created a management system standard that covers occupational health and safety. ISO 45001 reached the 40.00 stage in the process of publishing a new standard. This means that the draft version of the standard is registered and available for commenting. Actually, the BSI (British Standards Institution) made it available for commenting on their website:

The structure

As expected, ISO 45001 will adopt a new high-level structure that is common to ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001, and so on. This, of course, means that it has new clauses such as Context of the organization, Leadership and workers participation, Planning, and other clauses that you can already find in the above-mentioned standards. Also, the fact that the common requirements of different standards have the same clause numbers, and the same structure and mindset, makes integration of the multiple management systems much easier.

The DIS version of the new standard has 10 clauses and 10 annexes, where each annex provides additional information for one of the clauses of the standard. I like this approach, and all through this new standard I have a feeling that they are trying to avoid the ambiguities that emerged after publishing the new ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.

The content

Being in line with other management system standards, we see an introduction of new requirements and clauses compared to OHSAS 18001. Here is how the new occupational health and safety standard will look:

Context of the organization is a new concept compared to OHSAS 18001. The organization will have to consider all internal and external issues relevant to its OH&S Management System. This clause emphasizes the workers and interested parties and their needs and expectations.

Leadership and worker participation is the title of clause 5, as opposed to the other standard where it is only Leadership. But, this is not the only new thing compared to OHSAS 18001. Besides the OH&S Policy and roles and responsibilities, clause 5 includes participation and consultation. Compared to OHSAS 18001, it elaborates in greater detail on what this process should look like, and by adding it to the leadership section it emphasizes the responsibility of top management for the process.

Planning now includes addressing risks and opportunities regarding the OH&S Management System. Compared to OHSAS 18001, the requirements for hazard identification are more defined, with a proactive approach to hazard identification. When it comes to risks and opportunities, there are separate sub clauses that provide more details on what risks and opportunities need to be addressed, and it clears the ambiguities arising from the same clause in ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. This clause also covers identification of legal requirements and planning actions to address all above-mentioned issues.

Clause 7, Support covers all the resources needed for an effective OH&S Management System. This approach is better than the one in OHSAS 18001, because all resources are under the same clause. There are no significant new requirements in this part, except having documented information instead of documents and records, which is also a new element coming with ISO DIS 45001.

Operation is the clause that comprises operational controls and emergency preparedness and response. Besides these two sub clauses, there are also some new ones regarding outsourced processes, procurement and contractors. Because outsourcing is a global trend, these new requirements seem reasonable.

Performance evaluation includes monitoring and measuring of OH&S performance, evaluation of compliance obligations, internal audit, and management review, and covers most of clause 4.5 of OHSAS 18001.

Improvement is the title of the last clause of the standard. Incidents are now a part of the same sub clause as nonconformities and corrective actions, which make sense because they should be dealt with in the same way as nonconformities. The next sub clause is Continual improvement, and there are some changes in terms of structure of the sub clause: it is divided into two parts, with the first one defining the objectives of the continual improvement, while the second part defines the process.

What does ISO 45001 bring to the table?

We have to keep in mind that this is only a draft version of the standard, and it will probably undergo many changes before the official text of the standard is published. However, it helps us realize what to expect and how to prepare for the new standard.

I must say that I like the direction this standard is heading, especially because I have a feeling that people working on the text of the standard took the time to learn from the experience of developing the new versions of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. This can be seen in the part where risks and opportunities are far more elaborated than in those two standards, and this makes it easier for people to understand what is expected from them.

The other parts I find really good are the annexes. Having a separate annex for every clause with additional information will definitely be useful to all users of the standard, and clearly defined requirements will be easier to meet.

My overall impression of the standard draft is positive; it facilitates integration with other standards and decreases the requirements for documentation – and these are things that everyone welcomes.

Use our free  ISO/DIS 45001:2016 vs. OHSAS 18001:2007 matrix to find out what changes the new standard brings.

Advisera Strahinja Stojanovic
Strahinja Stojanovic

Strahinja Stojanovic is certified as a lead auditor for the ISO 13485, ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and OHSAS 18001 standards by RABQSA. He participated in the implementation of these standards in more than 100 SMEs, through the creation of documentation and performing in-house training for maintaining management systems, internal audits, and management reviews.