Implementing ISO 45001 Occupational Health & Safety

Implementing the ISO 45001

ISO 45001 is the latest standard in Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S). This new global standard is set to change the way organizations and companies approach the issue of employee health and safety in a major way. This new standard has been designed to integrate with existing systems like the ISO 9001 (quality management) and ISO 14001 (environmental management). Although it takes into account other standards like OHSAS 18001 and AS 4801,it has some significant differences and improvements over them.

ISO 45001 vs OHSAS 18001 and AS 4801

The main difference between the new ISO 45001 standard and previous standards in OH&S systems is the shift of focus from a reactive measures to preventive measures when dealing with employee health and safety. Some of the other areas where the ISO 45001 has improved upon the structure of its predecessors are :

Management Commitment

The commitment of the management to any OH&S program is seen as integral to its functioning and efficiency. The new standard insists upon managerial ownership and a ‘top down’ approach to health and safety. Thus instead of simply overseeing the program, the management themselves should be the leaders of the system.

Worker Participation

Another integral change in the structure is the greater emphasis on worker participation in the design and functioning of the company’s OH&S program. The workers should be given the relevant training and education to help them to identify risks and allow for preventive measures to be taken. Internal and external audits should also be made available for the perusal of those who work within the company and other concerned parties to ensure the smooth functioning of the OH&S program.

Proactive vs Reactive

Unlike previous systems, as mentioned above, the ISO 45001 focuses on proactive risk management requiring hazards and risks to be identified and remedied, rather than reactive measures like hazard control as in the OHSAS 18001. This means identifying risk factors through audits, job analyses and monitoring of workplace conditions before the occurrence of injury. This shift in perspective alone has the potential to save the company untold amounts of money and time.


Unlike the OHSAS 18001 the ISO 45001 has been structured to fit in with existing systems like the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. This universal structure and terminology allows the ISO 45001 to be more easily integrated into existing systems thus avoiding the confusion of multiple management systems and allowing the system to work in a more streamlined and efficient manner.



Compliance with ISO 45001

There are numerous economic and productive benefits that companies accrue when they comply with the new ISO 45001. However, there are some key steps that companies must taken, in order to fully comply with the new standard.

  1. Context

As per the new standard, businesses will have to look beyond their own H&S issues to the greater consideration of societal expectations. Business context is a combination of internal and external factors that can affect its approach to H&S management. This allows the system to be integrated into existing management systems rather than being viewed as a separate entity.


  1. Stakeholders

Once the business context has been identified, the company then needs to identify the various stakeholders and their expectations and needs. These requirements must then be assessed against current and future legal requirements before formulating an H&S management system, in order to help develop, implement and maintain this system as per the required processes and interactions.


  1. Management commitment

The new standard of H&S management requires a more active participation from the top management of the company. Not only are they required to play a more active role in the system’s development and implementation, they are also required to be held to a greater level of accountability.


  1. Performance Evaluation

As per the new standard, the objectives and performance of the H&S system must be clearly documented. Workers and management alike should be aware of the compliance status of the organization that they work for, i.e. they should be made aware of the status and findings of internal and external audits. Management reviews should now include risks and opportunities.


  1. Improvement

All ISO standards strive for continual improvement. The ISO 45001 takes this one step further. The standard requires that management systems identify and respond to non-conformity with action. This shifts the focus from reactive measures to preventive measures in H&S systems.


Compliance with the new ISO 45001 standard has a great deal of benefits for the company. It improves the standardization and allows for great transparency in the workings of the supply chain, even if the supply chain is based in another country. This allows the management to foresee and take preventive measures that can have an impact on the company’s overall performance by not only increasing productivity but also reducing the liability of the company. Successfully implementing the ISO 45001 system means that the company is now on a recognized global platform and both clients and employees alike are aware of the commitment of the company to ensuring the health and safety of its workers.

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