Top 10 changes from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001

Leadership, communication and planning play important roles

Top 10 changes from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001
Eldeen Pozniak

ISO 45001 will replace OHSAS 18001 as the OHS management system standard. OHSAS 18001 has been withdrawn by ISO on publication of ISO 45001 Occupational health and safety management systems - Requirements.  Those organizations that are currently certified to OHSAS 18001 will have a three-year period to upgrade to ISO 45001, after which they will have to seek certification to 45001 from the beginning.


So for those of you who are look at transitioning, you will want to know what some of the main changes between OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001. The top 10 changes are as follows:


•Annex use: The use of the new ISO high level structure: Annex SL. Common structure to key management system standards and make it easier for organizations to incorporate OHS into their preexisting management system and overall management process.

•Involvement: Requirement for all staff in the organization to get involved in the OHS management system


•Documentation: Additional documentation will be required under ISO 45001, formalizing goals and priorities more so than was required with OHSAS 18001.

•Organizational context: Consideration in understanding and addressing the organization and its context including technical, legal, environmental, commercial, cultural, social, political, organizational, resource, knowledge and information processes.  There is an emphasis on determination of relevant external and internal parities, activities, products, services and issues to the organizations purpose and its occupational safety and health management system, determination of relevant interested parties and their requirements and consider that within the boundaries and applicability of them on the management system.

•Active leadership: Increased emphasis on top leadership playing a greater role in approach and being active participants, with the belief that it starts at the top and they then ensure that it infiltrates through the entire organization.  This links to the Performance evaluation section, that not only continues to include a monitoring and measuring system, but has expanded to specific top management reviews at planned intervals to ensure its continued suitability, adequacy and effectiveness.  Topics for review are to include, status of actions from prior reviews, audits, and corrective actions, changes in issues, decisions on new continual improvement opportunities, trends, and determine the extent to which the plans and objectives are being met and the adequacy of resources to do so.


•Communication: ISO 45001 places greater emphasis on communication. Communication of objectives must be defined and measured for their effectiveness. Managers must also communicate with workers in areas such as policy, risk, and hazards.


•Planning:  Plans are believed to be critical to managing risk and opportunities, that need to be consistent with the organization and policy, account for applicable laws, communicated, are measurable and monitored, and are regularly reviewed and updated.  Plans need to outline what will be done, by who, with what (resources), and when.


•Support: Support is necessary for the plans objectives are met such as resources and ensuring competent persons are assigned and that internal and external information and communications are determined and delivered upon. There is a great emphasis that barriers are to be identified and eliminated for implementation and that the system is equipped and empowered to deliver on performance.


•Operations:  Operations planning, implementation and control processes are to be hazard and risk based, risk reduction focuses on hierarchy of control and the system has a responsibility and accountability foundation.  Management of change, outsourcing, procurement and contractors have been listed as specific inclusions.


•Performance indicators: Emphasis on the use of performance indicators to track improvement and ensure continual improvement is to be at the core of the organization. There is more of an emphasis on other aspects of health and safety within 45001, such as worker wellness and well-being.


•Improvement: Actions to ensure that plans and objects are being met need to be discussed and reviewed on a regular basis, and that the organization needs to react in a timely manner to deal with prevention of potential incidents, non-conformities, and promotion of improvements.