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Every day, thousands of lives are lost due to work accidents or fatal diseases linked to work activities. These are deaths that could and should have been prevented, and must be in the future.

Whether you are an employee, a manager or a business owner, you share a common goal – you don’t want anyone to get hurt on the job. Improved productivity stems from ensuring people operate in workplaces that provide transparency and build trust throughout their operation and supply chain. In addition, responsible practices are becoming increasingly important to brands and reputations.

ISO 45001 is the world’s first International Standard dealing with health and safety at work. Quite simply, it offers a single, clear framework for all organizations wishing to improve their OH&S performance. Directed at the top management of an organization, it hopes to provide a safe and healthy workplace for employees and visitors. In order to achieve this goal, it is important to control all factors that might result in illness, injury, and in even fatalities, by mitigating the impacts hazards have on the physical, mental and cognitive condition of workers – and ISO 45001 covers all of those aspects.

While ISO 45001 does draw on OHSAS 18001 – the previous benchmark for workplace safety – it is a completely new and distinct standard, not simply a dusted off version or revision or simple update. Organizations will therefore need to revise their current thinking and work practices in order to maintain organizational compliance.

What are the major differences between OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001?

There are many differences, but the main change is that ISO 45001 focuses on the interaction between an organization and its total business environment while OHSAS 18001 was focused on managing hazards and other internal-only issues. But the standards also differ in other ways:

  • 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

These points represent a huge shift in the way health and safety management and even viewed in business today. Safety can no longer be treated as a “stand alone” department or silo. Instead, key safety roles need to be embedded within the company – partnering with the various departments in order to run a sustainable organization.

Let’s see what ISO.org has to say:

My company already follows OHSAS 18001. How do I start to switch over to ISO 45001?

When moving over from OHSAS 18001, there are some steps you have to take in order to lay the ground work for ISO 45001. Here are a few steps ISO.org says you will need to take to get started:

  1. Perform the analysis of interested parties (those individuals or organizations that can affect your organization’s activities) as well as internal and external factors that might impact your organization’s business, then ask yourself how these risks can be controlled through your management system.
  2. Establish the scope of the system, while considering what your management system is set to achieve.
  3. Use this information to establish your processes, your risk evaluation/assessment and, most importantly, to set the key performance indicators (KPIs) for the processes.

Once you have adapted all the data to the tools of OHSAS 18001, you can reuse most of what you already have in your new management system. So, while the approach is quite different, the basic tools are the same.

What do I need to know if I am new to ISO 45001?

The answer depends on how much you know about ISO management systems. ISO 45001 adopts Annex SL, thus sharing a high-level structure (HLS), identical core text and terms and definitions with other recently revised ISO management system standards such as ISO 9001:2015 (quality management) and ISO 14001:2015 (environmental management). If you are already acquainted with the common framework, then much of ISO 45001 will seem familiar to you and you will just need to fill the “gaps” in your system.

If this is not the case, things could be a little more tricky. The standard is not easy to apprehend when you read it as a normal book. You have to realize all the interconnections between the specific clauses. The best advice would be to find a good training course to help you unlock the standard’s full potential. You may also want to consider employing consultancy services to assist you in the process.

See the entire ISO.org article here: https://www.iso.org/news/ref2271.html

How can I compare my safety management system against ISO 45001?

The best thing to do is to use the checklist that you can download HERE. By the way, using a digital EHS management system like iReportSource can check off many of the requirements found on the download I provided.

With iReportSource, knowledge really is power. Every user you choose in the organization can have visibility into how each incident is progressing towards closure. Not only can you drill down, track, and monitor specific activities in iReport, you have a real-time view of all your “big picture” metrics that matter, too.

Want to learn more? Get in touch to learn more about how you can own your safety culture and prevent injuries before they happen with iReport.