14 Sep, 2017 | OHSAS 18001

Over the last few years, Bywater has been monitoring changes to Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems Standards to ensure we are ready to help customers with training and consultancy services as you look to update your systems to meet new requirements. This article looks to provide information for current users of OHSAS 18001 on what they might expect to see when the ISO 45001 standard sees light of day – expected in early 2018.

For users of OHSAS 18001 the most obvious changes are to the structure of the standard. ISO 45001, like all ISO’s management systems standards will follow ISO’s Annex SL high level structure and text (HLS) and this means the 4 clauses in OHSAS 18001 becoming 10 clauses in the new ISO 45001. All key requirements are carried over to the new draft and are likely to find their way into the final publication.

The high level structure places increased emphasis on the role of top managers in setting health and safety strategy, policy and objectives and for their monitoring of the effectiveness of the systems through monitoring systems including management review. ISO 45001 goes beyond other management systems standards to require organisation leaders to consult with workers and for top management to develop an appropriate culture in which to operate their safety management system.

Safety specialists will already be familiar with the concept of ‘risk’ as it applies to health & safety but may be less familiar with the ISO 45001 requirement for the system to cover ‘opportunities’ – a high level structure development that is causing much scratching of heads for their environmental and quality management colleagues.

Where OHSAS 18001 talks of hazards and risks, ISO 45001 requires organisations to look more broadly at interested parties and the context the organisation operates in, including any legal requirements arising. In clause 4 of ISO 45001 there is particular emphasis on ‘workers’ as a relevant group of interested parties with particular needs and wants.

The focus on workers will continue throughout the ISO 45001 with particular emphasis on protecting them from harm and ill-health but also from reprisals in the event they try to improve their health and safety conditions. ISO 45001 further requires for them to be consulted and for their participation in key elements of the health and safety management system.

There is draft guidance available as BS 45002-0:2017 Occupational health and safety management systems – General guidelines for the application of ISO 45001. The plan is for this guidance to be available at the same time or shortly after ISO 45001 is published.

Following publication of ISO 45001, certification will be available to the new standard. Most certification bodies will be working to ensure their accreditation to deliver OHSAS 18001 certification can be quickly extended to cover the new ISO 45001. All organisations certified to OHSAS 18001 will be able to migrate to ISO 45001, and migration from the old to the new will be available until 3 years from the day of publication of 45001 – Resolution 9 in this IAF Document.


Paul Simpson is a Bywater Associate and is on BSI’s UK Mirror Committee, HS/1, providing the UK input to ISO 45001. Bywater produced a blog post on the main changes to ISO 45001 and the standards development process.