ISO 45001 vs OHSAS 18001

ISO (International Standards Organization), a non-governmental international organization, has developed ISO 45001, a new international standard for an occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS). The standard sets forth requirements that provide a framework to improve employee safety, reduce workplace risks and create better, safer working conditions all over the world. The new standard improves upon OHSAS 18001 and sets an outward focus on overarching health and safety context beyond the workplace.

ISO 45001 places a strong focus on an organization’s context. It requires the organization to consider what society expects from it in terms of occupational health and safety management. The intent of ISO/DIS 45001 is to provide an organization with a high level, conceptual understanding of the important issues that can affect it either positively or negatively and how it manages its responsibilities toward people working under its control.

Issues of interest are those that affect the organization’s ability to achieve its intended outcomes. These include the objectives it has set for its OHSMS, such as meeting its OHS policy commitments. The organization must determine which interested parties are relevant to its OHSMS, and it must also determine the relevant requirements of those interested parties.

ISO 45001 is based on the ISO Guide 83 which defines a common structure, text, terms and definitions for the next generation of management systems (e.g. ISO 9001, ISO 14001, etc.). This difference from OHSAS 18001 aims to facilitate the implementation process as well as the harmonized, structured, and efficient integration of several management systems.

With ISO 45001, organizations will have to look beyond their own health and safety issues and consider what the society expects from them concerning health and safety issues.

Some organizations use OHSAS 18001 to delegate health and safety responsibilities to a safety manager rather than integrating the system into the organization’s operations. ISO 45001 requires the incorporation of occupational health and safety aspects in the overall management system of the organization, thus driving top management to have a stronger leadership role.

ISO 45001 focuses on identifying and controlling risks rather than hazards, as it is required in OHSAS 18001.

ISO 45001 requires organizations to take into account how suppliers and contractors are managing their risks.

In ISO 45001 several definitions and terms have been added and/or redefined. The standard also states that documented information must be maintained to the extent necessary to have confidence that the OHSMS performance and processes have functioned as planned.

Besides these improvements, the overall aim of ISO 45001 remains the same as OHSAS 18001, which is to reduce unacceptable risks and ensure the safety and well-being of everyone involved in an organization’s activities.

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