ISO 45001 vs. ISO 14001: Differences and similarities

The release of ISO 45001:2018, provides requirements for implementing and improving an Occupational Health & Safety Management System (OHSMS). With this, many organizations are determining how the requirements of this new standard, which replaces OHSAS 18001, can be integrated with already existing management systems. When compared with an Environmental Management System (EMS) compliant with the requirements of ISO 14001:2015 this integration is easy to do because there are some similarities. Still, there are also differences between the requirements, too. So, let’s see an ISO 45001 vs. ISO 14001 comparison.

What is similar in the OHSMS and EMS requirements?

There are many similarities between these two standards, even more so than other ISO management system standards. Below are some of the common elements of these two standards:

  • Common format: As with all of the ISO management system standards, ISO 45001 follows a format that ISO calls ANNEX SL. This format means that the standard is written to follow the plan-do-check-act cycle and, in many ways, it is written in the order that elements would be implemented within the organization. For example, you would start by identifying the context of your organization, followed by ensuring that top management had all leadership functions in place to support the management system, etc. This common format makes it easy to compare the two standards side-by-side to see what is different.
  • Common management system processes: Along with the above common format, many of the processes included are the same for all management systems. For processes such as internal audit, determining interested parties, competence and awareness, control of documented information or management review, you do not need to have separate ways of performing these activities. For instance, with one internal audit you can review all of the parts of a process in the OH&S and environmental management system. You can also have one way of recording all of the competency requirements for the different jobs in your organization, and how you ensure people have these competencies.
  • Risk management: Both standards ask you to identify, analyze and assess the risks of your processes. For the EMS, this refers to the aspects of the process (how it interacts with the environment) and the impacts on the environment. For the OHSMS, this refers to the OH&S risks of the process and the hazards they pose to workers. These processes can easily take a common format for review and recording.
  • Focus on legal requirements: Both standards include requirements to have a process to determine what your legal requirements are for either the OHSMS or EMS, and to keep up to date on changes. There are also requirements to ensure compliance with these legal obligations. For more information on complying with OH&S legal requirements, see this article: How to identify and comply with legal requirements in ISO 45001.

ISO 45001: How does it compare to ISO 14001?

What is different in the ISO 45001?

Even with all the similarities discussed above, there are still differences in ISO 45001 compared to the ISO 14001 standard. As you might expect, these differences focus on those affected most directly by activities to improve occupational health & safety in the workplace.

  • Focus on worker participation: Several sections of the ISO 45001 standard include requirements to include workers in the creation and functioning of the OHSMS. This includes consultation of workers when determining the processes that need to be included in the implementation of the OHSMS, and worker participation in the running of the OHSMS after it is implemented. To better understand implementing this requirement, see the article How to meet participation and consultation requirements in ISO 45001.
  • Inclusion of incidents in the corrective action process: While all of the management system standards include a process for taking corrective action when a process has some nonconformities, the ISO 45001 standard includes the need for corrective action when a workplace OH&S incident occurs to prevent recurrence and safeguard workers in the future.
  • Focus on hazard elimination and risk minimization: Part of the ISO 45001 operation requirements is to work towards eliminating hazards in your organization. By trying to eliminate hazards, you can work towards minimizing your OH&S risks and make your workplace safer for everyone involved. For more information on how to do this, see the article 5 levels of hazard controls in ISO 45001 and how they should be applied.
  • Requirements for procurement: When you are procuring products and services from contractors or through outsourcing, the ISO 45001 standard includes the need to have a process to ensure that these products and services conform to your OH&S Management System processes. This way you will not be put at risk because, for instance, a contractor will have different practices than you while working on your property.

Integration can give additional benefits

One thing to note about integrating different management systems is that you do not need to double your cost to include both sets of requirements. As you can see from the similarities above, there are many processes that are the same or very closely related. These can be done together, saving you time and money while giving you the benefits of both management systems. These benefits include focusing on continual improvement from two different perspectives, while not incurring double the cost. Use this to your advantage to get more improvement for your organization.

For a better understanding of the what is needed for documentation of the OHSMS, see this whitepaper Checklist of Mandatory Documentation Required by ISO 45001.

Advisera Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar is a Certified Manager of Quality / Organizational Excellence through the American Society for Quality and has been a Quality Professional since 1994. Mark has experience in auditing, improving processes, and writing procedures for Quality, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems, and is certified as a Lead Auditor for ISO 9001, AS9100, and ISO 14001.