Do you really need a consultant for implementation of ISO 45001?

Many companies use a consultant to help with the implementation of ISO 45001:2018, but is this strictly necessary? There are many factors involved in creating an Occupational Health & Safety Management System (OHSMS) for your company, and some companies find it helpful to have a consultant aid them with the implementation process. There are pros and cons to this decision, and it is important to understand what knowledge is required for implementing ISO 45001:2018. This way, you can make an informed decision about hiring a consultant.

What do you need to know to implement ISO 45001:2018?

There are many steps that need to happen to implement and certify your OHSMS according to ISO 45001:2018, and some required knowledge that goes along with these steps. To implement your OHSMS you will need to understand the requirements, the implementation and certification process, and the industry and legal requirements that apply to your business. It is true that a consultant can help with these steps, but when the he or she leaves, you will also need to know this information to maintain the management system that has been put into place.

You need to know what is required before you get started so that, even if you choose to use a consultant, you know what path needs to be followed to succeed.

For a better understanding of the ISO 45001:2018 implementation, see this helpful article 12 steps for implementation and certification against ISO 45001.


ISO 45001:2018 implementation can be confusing, and hiring a consultant to help you navigate the path to implementation can help, but here are some things to consider before making the final decision.

Among other considerations, here are some of the pros for hiring a consultant:

Experience. It is likely that no one in your organization has had the experience of implementing an ISO 45001:2018 OHSMS before, but the right consultant will have. A consultant may have some tips and tricks along the path to implementation that will help your company to succeed.

Time. It can take much less time to implement ISO 45001:2018 with a consultant due to the experience mentioned above. The consultant is not learning along the way, and may be better able to identify problems earlier.

Expert from afar. It is a common phenomenon that people tend to trust an expert from outside the company more than someone from within. If you are having trouble convincing people of what is needed to implement the OHSMS, taking instruction from a consultant may be easier for some people to do.

Choosing an ISO 45001 consultant: Do you really need one?


Below are a few cons also to consider when making your decision:

Non-confidentiality. This is probably the biggest drawback to a consultant. You will have to share a lot of information about your company for the consultant to help craft your policies and procedures, and any best practices you have may be used in the future for other clients. This may mean that your best practices could be shared with your competitors and, if done without using your company name, this may not violate confidentiality agreements.

Dependency. Not everything can be recorded in a procedure, and the OH&S management system is no different. There will be knowledge needed by the consultant to create the OHSMS, and if this knowledge is not also shared with members of your organization then you will have a problem when you take over the maintenance of the management system. The consultant will go away at some point, and some critical knowledge can go with him/her if you are not careful.

Cost. Good consultants are not cheap. There is a cost involved in hiring a consultant, as well as the non-monetary costs involved in teaching the consultants the information they need about your company so that the OHSMS is tailored to you. If your consultant doesn’t tailor the management system, then you will have the even worse problem of a generic set of procedures that mean nothing to you and quickly become useless.


There are alternatives to having a consultant, and you should also investigate these as part of your decision on how to implement. Online training and resources to help you understand the standard and implement it are available, as are other tools such as documentation toolkits that can be a great assistance. It is best to compare all of these possibilities before making a final decision.

Remember, you will need to acquire some knowledge about ISO 45001:2018, so make sure that your decision to choose a consultant is not based on the thought that acquiring knowledge will not be necessary. To help you understand the ISO 45001:2018 requirements, whether you use a consultant or not, check out this whitepaper Clause-by-clause explanation of ISO 45001:2018.

Make the choice that works best for you

As has already been mentioned, it will likely be necessary to learn what is required for the OHSMS so that you can maintain the system, so why not learn it during implementation rather than struggling after the fact. Even if you do choose to use a consultant, it is best to ensure that people within your organization learn all they can about the system since the consultant will be leaving and you will have to maintain what has been created. Take some time before you start to ensure that you make the right choices on implementation so that your long-term job will be as easy as possible. Remember, you don’t want to end up with a complex system that will cause trouble in the long run.

For detailed comparison between using a consultant  and implementing ISO 45001 yourself, see this free whitepaper Implementing ISO 45001 with a consultant vs. DIY approach.

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.