ISO45001 is the OHSAS18001 successor – The impacts

OHSAS18001:2007 will be replaced by the new ISO45001 standard.

OHSAS18001 is used as the blueprint to design and compile the new ISO45001 standard. More or less 50 countries are working on this document and it is expected to be released in 2016 if all goes according to plan.

Where did all of this start?

Before 1999, various standards and benchmarks were used which lead to confusion and various levels of Occupational Health and Safety Management systems. The BS (British Standard) OHSAS18001 was launched in 1999 and set the global uniform standard for organisations to follow.

In 2007 the standard was further changed towards becoming more in line with the ISO14001 format and requirements.

The importance of an internationally accepted Health & Safety standard is evident looking at the following statistics:

  • 2.2 million workers lose their lives globally every year due to work-related accidents and diseases.
  • Over 4.1 million US workers suffer serious illness or injury every year.
  • 26.4 million UK working days were lost due to work related illnesses and workplace injuries.
  • 4% of the world’s GNP is lost due to work related accidents and diseases.
  • 6,300 workers die every day as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases.

There is enough evidence that a revised standard is required.

Who will benefit from this new ISO45001 standard?

All small, medium and large enterprises will benefit. Looking at reduced incident rates; less absenteeism; higher worker moral; increase in legal compliance; improvement in Health and Safety image of an organization and increased profits are just some of the incentives towards implementing this standard.

It has also lately (over the past 5 years) become more a requirement of tenders to have this certification in place and/or larger companies are forcing their contractors to have a Health & Safety/OHSAS18001 management system in place before contracts can be awarded.

What can we expect in the ISO45001 standard?

Although the whole process is still in its infancy stages, certain conclusions can be made at this stage including:

  • It will follow the ISO9001: 2015 format:

Scope
Normative references
Terms and definitions
Context of the organisation
Leadership
Planning
Support
Operation
Performance evaluation
Improvement

  • Stronger focus on the context of the organisation
  • More emphasis on leadership and the role of top management
  • Main approach is that of preventive Health and Safety and not controlling Health and Safety.
  • More emphasis on risk management and assessment
  • Strengthening of knowledge on legal & other requirements
  • Auditors will have to focus more on top management interviews and auditing – a task which might be daunting for some auditors.

The advantage is that the new ISO9001 and the new ISO14001 will be released in 2015 and both these standards will have adopted the new 10 clause format already.

By the time ISO45001 kicks in it will only be a formality to change the focus from Quality and Environment to Occupational Health and Safety.

The whole new thinking in terms of the new look of all ISO standards would then be familiar to management system implementers.

Stay calm and …

But do not panic. There is enough time to get-to-know the new ISO9001; ISO14001 and ISO45001 standards. There is always a transition period to move from the old to the new.

What can be done in the interim is to be aware that OHSAS18001 will become the new ISO45001. If you are currently certified under OHSAS18001 ensure you keep up-to-date with the changes and the progress of ISO45001 – it will make your change-over just so much easier.

For those that needs to be pro-active, in January 2015, I will be facilitating workshops on both the new ISO9001 and the ISO45001 standards. I will be sharing what I know about the forthcoming changes and we will be discussing the impact it might have on your Management systems, their design and focus. I hope to see you there.

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Edmond Furter

Editor at Sheqafrica.com
Edmond Furter is the editor of Sheqafrica.com. He is a freelance technical journalist, and has won six journalism awards. He specialises in industrial, business, and cultural content in web, journal, and book formats.