What is OHSAS 18001? OHSAS 18001 vs ISO 45001

By Scott Dawson
July 21, 2022

Managing occupational health and safety (OH&S) in the workplace is a critical process for any business. By identifying hazards and implementing best safety practices, you can help prevent an accident and injury in the workplace.  

When it comes to OH&S management, you may have heard of the OHSAS 18001 standard. Perhaps you’ve even been required to implement OHSAS 18001 by a contract. Released in 2007 and adopted by the British Standards Institution (BSI), this standard helped set universal guidelines for occupational health and safety. 

However, OHSAS 18001 has since been replaced with a more updated standard: ISO 45001, developed by the International Organization for Standardization.  

What does that mean for you? If you’re seeking OHSAS 18001 certification—or if a customer has asked you to become OHSAS 18001 certified—you actually need ISO 45001. 

Read on to learn more about OHSAS 18001, ISO 45001, and how to pursue OH&S management in your business. 


What Is OHSAS 18001 Certification? 

OHSAS 18001 is an international standard designed to govern your occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS). Before becoming obsolete, this standard set criteria for businesses to control workplace hazards and improve performance by planning, documenting, and implementing verifiable processes. OHSAS 18001 helped companies reduce accident and incident rates by encouraging enhanced performance monitoring and better control of work-related risks. 


What Is ISO 45001 Certification? 

ISO 45001 was first released in March 2018, replacing OHSAS 18001 as the recognized international standard for OH&S management. ISO 45001 is the current international standard for OH&S management.  

As an ISO standard, ISO 45001 is designed to fit any business in any industry. It provides a framework to improve workplace productivity and safety by preventing work-related illness and injury. ISO 45001 places an emphasis on management involvement, requiring leadership to take control of the system and communicate clearly with workers. Most importantly, ISO 45001 focuses on risk control. With ISO 45001, you identify your risks, categorize them, and systematically address them to ensure a safe environment. 

ISO 45001 follows the usual high-level ISO structure, based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle of the ISO 9001 quality management system standard. This makes it easy to integrate ISO 45001 with other management systems and processes. 


ISO 45001 Replaces OHSAS 18001 

Although ISO 45001 replaced OHSAS 18001, it follows many of the same parameters. However, ISO 45001 is a new and unique standard, not a revision or an update to OHSAS 18001. All organizations with OHSAS 18001 certification were required to transition to ISO 45001 by March 2021. 


The Differences Between ISO 45001 and OHSAS 18001 

OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001 both aim to improve working conditions, but they go about it in different ways. 

ISO 45001 takes a proactive approach to risk control.  It begins with implementing health and safety in a company’s overall management system, giving company leadership a more hands-on role in health and safety. ISO 45001 also provides more flexibility overall, creating room for businesses to build management systems that fit their context. 

The official ISO website also cites the following differences: 

  1. ISO 45001 is process-based, while OHSAS 18001 is procedure-based.
  2. ISO 45001 is dynamic in all its clauses. OHSAS 18001 is static.
  3. ISO 45001 deals with risk and opportunities, while OHSAS 18001 simply focuses on risk.
  4. ISO 45001 considerers the needs of interested parties outside your organization, while OHSAS 18001 focuses solely on company employees. 

Perhaps the biggest change: ISO 45001 treats OH&S management as an integrated process rather than a standalone system. ISO 45001 situations OH&S management alongside your other management systems such as ISO 9001, making it a seamless part of your workflow. 

But even though the standards differ in approach, OHSAS 18001 lays the groundwork for a smooth transition to ISO 45001. 


Migrating From OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001 

If you still need to transition from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001, these steps can help you prepare: 

  • Download our free ISO 45001 guide for a practical overview of the standard and its contents. 
  • Evaluate the needs of the interested parties and identify the external and internal factors that could affect health and safety in your workplace. 
  • Map out and assign roles for company employees. 
  • Conduct a gap analysis to see how your organization stacks up against ISO 45001 requirements. 
  • Create a realistic timeline for implementation. 
  • Determine whether you can achieve migration with your internal resources or if a professional consultant would be more effective.  


Connect With the Experts at Core Business Solutions Today 

At Core Business Solutions, we’ve helped many businesses transition from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001. We’ve also helped businesses achieve ISO 45001 certification from scratch! Wherever you stand, we can help you implement a compliant OH&S management system to fit your business. We can even help you cut down time and cost by implementing ISO 45001 as part of an Integrated Management System (IMS) with your existing systems. 

Our approach combines web-based tools, hands-on consulting, and practical training to make certification simple and effective. 

Contact us online or call 866-354-0300 today to learn more about what we do. 

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