Transition ISO 45001:2018

Already certified on OHSAS 18001:2007, the transgression will be smooth. A few “changes” to your current system, and you will be ready!


One of the main changes between ISO 45001 and OHSAS 18001 is the new standard’s focus on organizational context. In adopting the Annex SL high-level structure, ISO 45001 requires that participants view occupational health and safety management in a broader context, one that includes regulations and governance as well as organizational culture and its impact on all stakeholders, including workers, customers and more. This also aids the integration within existing business practice, rather than being looked upon as a separate function.

Widening the scope of the system considerably, making it easier to integrate health and safety with other goals, including quality, energy management, business continuity and information security.


ISO 45001 makes health and safety an organization-wide concern. It changes several requirements for management participation and engagement to a more general leadership provision — a subtle distinction designed to empower all staff to make safety a priority.

Likewise, communication and documentation take on increased significance. All staff must now be aware of their responsibilities, and work together to meet health and safety goals. To facilitate this, organizations will need to set aside adequate resources for worker participation and training on things such as incident reporting, investigations, risk assessment and other tasks that were the exclusive domain of management under the old system.


ISO 45001 amalgamates several clauses (4.3.1, 4.3.2 and 4.3.3) in OHSAS 18001 related to defining objectives, identifying opportunities and managing risk. The new standard addresses opportunities and measures of effectiveness, legal requirements and more. When setting health and safety objectives, it requires organizations to consider the available resources and identify the responsible staff, timelines and associated metrics for gauging success. These changes require additional documentation, formalizing organizational goals and priorities to a greater extent than OHSAS 18001 did.


Section 7 of ISO 45001 revises several of the support provisions found in OHSAS 18001. It abandons many procedural requirements in favor of more extensive documentation. There is also an increased emphasis on communication — ISO 45001 mandates that communication objectives be defined and measured for their effectiveness. This is related to a renewed focus on awareness, in which managers must communicate with workers on policies, risks and hazards, as well as the results of any accident investigations and other official inquiries and potential changes.


ISO 45001 introduces several new requirements under the general operation section of the standard. Section 8.1.2 arranges risk management principles according to a hierarchy of controls. It also identifies potential sources for operational change and outlines their occupational health and safety requirements. These may include new personnel or equipment, changing working conditions, new regulatory requirements and more.

Other new provisions strengthen requirements related to outsourced tasks and procurement processes, as well as controls and communication when working with internal and external contract workers. Additionally, ISO 45001 features an expanded section on emergency preparedness and response.

In ISO 45001, an activity’s operational controls must be able to accommodate both new and existing hazards and risks. As a result, the overall occupational health and safety management system becomes more versatile and resilient.


ISO 45001 strengthens, expands or modifies many of the outgoing standard’s requirements for evaluation. Performance and monitoring results must now be documented information. As part of the new emphasis on organizational context, these benchmarks should consider additional factors such as legal requirements, risks, opportunities and objectives.

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