ISO 45001: What You Need to Know

Author: Rene Garcia


The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has recently published their new standard for occupational health and safety (OH&S). The designation for this standard is ISO 45001. Since the ISO is a non-governmental organization and has no legal power or authority to enforce compliance with their standards, businesses are not required to adopt anything the ISO publishes. However, since the ISO has members from over 160 countries and has published over 22,000 international standards that cover almost all aspects of technology and manufacturing and are widely accepted by experts in various fields, supply chains should familiarize themselves with this new safety standard.

What is ISO 45001?

ISO 45001 is the first international standard that addresses health and safety at work, which is impressive since the organization has never tackled this topic fully in all the years of operation since 1947. As such, businesses across the world are looking forward to the single framework that will help them improve their occupational health and safety performance. In general, ISO 45001 aims to control all factors that could cause illness, injury, or death. This standard was published by the ISO on March 12, 2018.

Previously, organizations relied on a different standard that was recognized by its designation OHSAS 18001. This standard was published by a different organization called the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) Project Group. ISO 45001 borrows from OHSAS 18001, but will also replace it. A complete phase out of OHSAS 18001 will conclude in three years, giving enough time for recertification efforts for the new standard.

What are Key Differences Between ISO 45001 and OHSAS 18001?

The biggest difference between the two standards is how ISO 45001 focuses on an organization’s interaction with the business environment instead of how OHSAS 18001 focused on managing hazards and internal issues. Other differences include:

  • ISO 45001 is process-based – OHSAS 18001 is procedure-based
  • ISO 45001 is dynamic in all clauses – OHSAS 18001 is not
  • ISO 45001 considers both risk and opportunities – OHSAS 18001 deals exclusively with risk
  • ISO 45001 includes the views of interested parties – OHSAS 18001 does not

Why Should Organizations Adopt ISO 45001?

As previously mentioned, the ISO cannot compel any business to comply with any standard it publishes, however, there are clear benefits for companies that adopt theses requirements. For one, the standard takes into account current legislation around the world, ensuring that organizations that comply with ISO 45001 are within the law in terms of health and safety wherever the business operates. For another, the standard offers a risk-based approach to ensure that a company’s occupational health and safety management system is effective over time as conditions and situations change. If nothing else, then being certified in this internationally recognized standard adds another layer of credibility and trust to your organization, making you a more attractive supply chain partner.

Avetta helps the world’s leading organizations proactively manage health and safety in their supply chains through contractor prequalification, assessments, employee qualification and insurance monitoring. Our cloud-based technology and services help foster a culture of health and safety by raising awareness and providing greater visibility of risk throughout the supply chain.

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