How ISO 45001 will affect OHSAS 18001 Certified Businesses


With the introduction of the ISO 45001:2018 Standard in March 2018, businesses Certified to OHSAS 18001 will need to take note. ISO 45001 is a replacement for the OHSAS 18001 Standard and although businesses have plenty of time to upgrade to the new Standard, the earlier the differences are considered, the better prepared they will be for how these changes will affect their organisation.

What are the main differences?

There are many differences between the two standards and although they both cover health and safety in the workplace, ISO 45001 is a more comprehensive offering. The main change is that of focus. While OHSAS 18001 was looking to manage and prevent health and safety hazards, ISO 45001 puts the spotlight on how an organisation interacts with its surroundings.

Other differences include:

  • The use of process-based systems over procedure-based ones
  • A focus on being dynamic in approach over static
  • The consideration of both risk and opportunity over an exclusive focus on the former
  • Including the needs and expectations of interested parties
  • Looking at Health and Safety as a whole within all areas of business, not just as a standalone consideration

What differences are there in the high-level structure?

While all ISO management systems have some related elements, and OHSAS 18001 does share some similarities to ISO 45001 in this regard, the new Standard uses the Annex SL structure as used by other recently updated standards such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. Using this structure ensures terminology and structure is consistent across all standards and makes it easier for businesses to implement ISO 45001 with existing management systems that follow the same structure.

The structure is as follows:

  1. Scope
  2. Normative References
  3. Terms and Definitions
  4. Context of the Organisation
  5. Leadership
  6. Planning
  7. Support
  8. Operation
  9. Performance Evaluation
  10. Improvement

What actions should you take?

If you are currently certified to OHSAS 18001, the long term goal is that you will upgrade your Management System to ISO 45001:2018 and seek certification to it.

There is no rush to do this however, and companies are advised to carefully consider how their existing Management System will need to be adapted before pushing for certification to the new standard.

The three-year transition period – starting from the date of publication (March 2018) – to move to the new Standard allows plenty of time to look into your options. It is only after the transition period finishes that some third parties may not accept an OHSAS 18001:2007 certification.

What preparations should you make?

If you want to take on the task of upgrading your Management System yourself, there are preparations to make before you start:

  • Determine who the interested parties are
  • Ascertain which internal and external factors might cause a health and safety risk to your business
  • List how your Management System will address, manage and control the discovered risks
  • Establish what your Management System should achieve in terms of health and safety

You can then use this information to work out how and where you need to change your existing Management System to bring it in line with the new Standard.


Of course, you don’t have to upgrade your Management System alone. QMS can support you all the way. And if you are already have an OHSAS 18001 certified Management System through us, we will be in contact with you about your options in the coming months.

To find out more about the upgrade or to discuss your ISO 45001 requirements, please contact one of our experienced Certification Development Consultants on 0333 344 3646.

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About the author

  • Name:

    Michelle-Louise Janion

  • Company:

    Marketing Executive

  • Bio:

    Michelle worked for Citation ISO Certification from 2017 to 2019, producing engaging content around ISO Standards and other compliance related topics.


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