Approval of ISO 45001, the new international standard for occupational health and safety management systems


    Official standard set for publication in March

    The ISO/PC 283 committee approved the final draft of international standard ISO 45001 at its meeting in January. At the end of this five-year-long process, the standard was endorsed by organisations, professionals, auditors and public bodies, with 93% voting in favour and only 6% against.
    The aim of the new standard is to improve working conditions for all in terms of health and safety. Certification is voluntary and any company (regardless of size or sector) can implement a management system and get it certified by any independent, impartial body. But all companies seeking certification will need to meet the same, internationally recognised criteria.
    The standard is due to be published in 2018. In addition, the OHSAS Project Group has set out a migration period, giving businesses three years to carry out the transition from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001.
    During this three-year period, the two standards will coexist, with OHSAS 18001 ultimately being repealed.

    Key changes

    One of the most important new features of ISO 45001 is its high-level structure. This common structure, shared by all the new ISO standards, enables the more efficient amalgamation of different management systems. ISO 45001 therefore shares the same structure, introductory texts and descriptors as the 2015 versions of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. As such, it is much simpler to implement all of these management systems together.
    The new international standard also features some new concepts that do not appear in OHSAS 18001. For example, ISO 45001:2018 includes the “context of the organization”. On the one hand it takes into account a company’s internal characteristics (objectives, policies, strategies, etc.) and, on the other, it assesses any external context that could impact in any way on the management system (cultural climate, economic climate and so on).
    And finally, while the OHSAS 18001 standard refers solely to "leadership", ISO 45001 brings in worker participation and consultation. The new international standard also places greater emphasis on the responsibility of management.

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