Occupational health and safety management systems evolving from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001

In 2013, International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved the creation of a new ISO project committee (PC) 283 to develop a definitive International Standard ISO 45001 for occupational health and safety management systems. For this, ISO/PC 283 has been tasked with transforming the internationally applied British Standard (BS) OHSAS 18001, into the new standard, whilst also taken into account other national standards and the International Labour Organization (ILO) standards, conventions and guidelines, such as ILO-OSH Guidelines, in this area.

ISO 45001 is intended to enable any organisation (regardless of its size or the nature of its work) to proactively improve its occupational health and safety performance in preventing injury and ill health. All of its requirements are designed to integrate into other health and safety programmes, such as worker wellness and wellbeing, and management processes of the organisation. It also addresses many, if not all, legal requirements in this area.

ISO 45001 will implement ISO Directives’ Annex SL process and structure, making integration of multiple ISO management system standards (MSSs) easier, such as ISO 9001, Quality management systems and ISO 14001, Environmental management systems. It uses a simple plan-do-check-act (PDCA) model, which provides a framework for organisations to plan what needs to put in place in order to minimise the risk of harm. The measures should address concerns that can lead to long-term health issues and absence from work, as well as those that give rise to accidents.

Development and approval of ISO MSSs follow an established process and sequence; Working Draft (WD), Committee Draft (CD), Draft International Standard (DIS), Final DIS (FDIS) followed by publication of the Standard. ISO 45001 development commenced with its WD, as scheduled, but the ISO members rejected the initial CD and so a second CD (CD2) had to be created. After the approval of CD2, another setback followed when the DIS did not gain sufficient approval votes during a ballot in May 2016. The working committee will now produce a second DIS (DIS2), hoping that this time it will convince all voting parties. If the DIS2 is received positively, the modified document may then be circulated to ISO members as a FDIS. In the event of an affirmative vote, ISO 45001 is expected to be published as an International Standard by late 2016 / early 2017.

Users of OHSAS 18001 will need to update their systems according to the requirements of ISO 45001 within a three-year transition period that will commence after the later standard is published for use. As the final publication date approaches, Safe Dimensions will organise workshops and webinars to prepare organisations for the transition to ISO 45001. Our team of Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) management professionals will assist with gap analysis and targeted action plans to facilitate ISO 45001 certification. We can also assist in the full development of an occupational health and safety management system to ISO 45001, following the official publication of this standard.

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