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Your transition to ISO 45001

By Michele Pietersen on 01 March 2018

The 2014 GLOBAL ESTIMATES OF OCCUPATIONAL ACCIDENTS AND FATAL WORK-RELATED DISEASES, estimated 2.3 million deaths related to work accidents occur annually across the world. Work-related diseases account for 2 million deaths whilst the remainder were due to occupational injuries.

This means that every 15 seconds a worker dies from a work-related accident or disease.

With these alarming statistics, the advantages of having the an effectively implemented and maintained ISO 45001 management system should be of high priority.


From OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001

Many organization have the OHSAS 18001 certification, that ceases to be valid 3 years after the publication of ISO 45001. With publication scheduled for the March 2018 the period of transition runs till March 2021.

With effective implementation of ISO 45001, the organization will see a reduction in lost work time and non-productive time that result from accidents and incidents This should reflect as increased profits for the organization.

The advantage of implementing ISO 45001 means that if an organization has other ISO management systems standards in place, there will be overlapping of the clause terminology, numbering and requirements. This will make the integration of the occupational health and safety system with other systems much simpler. Internal audits and management reviews can be done as an integrated activity.  

Another benefit is the impact on service providers to the organization. The new standard helps the organization set measurable objectives and targets for theses service providers. Vendors used to provide these services would need to be in alignment with the ISO 45001 for a smooth transition into their clients’ health and safety management system. With a ISO 45001 system in place at the service providers there should be a reduction in the incidents and accidents in relation to services and or goods provided.

If you have an existing accredited OHSAS 18001 certificate, this can be migrated to ISO 45001 during the scheduled periodic or recertification audit that falls in the 3-year period. It would be best to schedule at least an additional one audit day for the migration audit to be done in concurrence with the planned yearly or recertification audit.

New concepts in ISO 45001

Some new concepts are introduced which will need realignment in your existing systems such as Context of the organization, Leadership and Documented information

To determine the context of the organization, an evaluation of internal and external factors that impact your organization is required. Once all possible risks to your organization have need identified then the risks can be evaluated and measures taken to minimize the impact of the risk. Various factors could pose a risk to the organization such as outside services, advanced technology, changing design in materials supplied, internal labor relations. Consideration of the various factors, with evaluation of each one and a decision on the correct measures required to control, reduce and mitigate the identified risk is required in ISO 45001.

The ISO 45001 places a strong focus on top management and leadership. This means that everyone must be included within the decision-making process, not only the senior leaders but all levels of the organization.

In the changing world of data processing it is important that documented information required to prove compliance to the requirements is evaluated and controlled. The focus has changes from having documented procedures to have documented information in any suitable format.

What is most important is that the system must be kept simple with no specific requirement for manuals or procedure but only mandatory documented requirements for

  • Scope – the boundaries of the organization;
  • Policy – that defines top managements intention and direction of the organization;
  • Roles, responsibilities and authorities documented;
  • Risks and opportunities, processes and actions needed to determine and address them;
  • Criteria for determine which risks are the most significant;
  • Legal and other requirements;
  • OH&S objectives and plans to achieve them;
  • Evidence of competence;
  • Evidence of communications;
  • Evidence of Controlling Processes and Plans to Mitigate Hazards;
  • Evidence of Emergency Responses and Plans for Emergency response;
  • Evidence of Monitoring, Measurement Analysis and Performance & Calibration;
  • Evidence of Internal Audits and Compliance Evaluations;
  • Evidence of Management Reviews;
  • Records of Incidents or Nonconformities and Actions Taken;
  • Evidence of Continual Improvement


A very important addition is the word “worker” to the ISO 450001 standard. Clause 4.2 specifically deals with “Understanding the needs and expectations of workers and other interested parties.” This is a vital requirement considering the alarming statics of injuries and deaths due to work related activities.

The ISO 45001 standard goes on to include a clause 5.4 “Consultation and participation of workers”. This would mean the involvement of employees in the development of the OH & S Policies, partaking in incident investigations and assisting with hazard and risk identification.

In ISO 45001 clause 8.1.3 requires Management of change – this is a significant requirements not previously addressed by OSHAS 18001. You will want to think about this requirement and how you implement it as you move to change your existing health and safety management system. Haven’t got one yet – the publication of the final draft standard of ISO 45001 should inspire you to start this important change to prioritizing on maintaining safe healthy employees~!