Final Publication of ISO 45001:2018 Issued

It is expected that the final publication will be released on March 18, 2018. This version is planned to replace OHSAS 18001:2007 as the globally recognized occupational health and safety management system certification standard. To enable organizations to align with its requirements, ISO 45001:2018 will have a migration period of three years.

ISO 45001:2018 is positioned as an integral part of an organization’s efforts towards managing occupational health and safety in the workplace and is promoted as a tool for improving overall health and safety performance. ISO 45001 encourages more internal and external stakeholder focus as part of the adoption of a risk-based approach to health and safety management. It emphasizes the importance of adopting an occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS) as a strategic decision for an organization. In addition to renaming and repositioning some OHSMS activities, other significant new requirements have been introduced.

Organizational Context

The ‘context’ of an organization (or its ‘business environment’) refers to the combination of internal and external factors and conditions that can affect its approach to health and safety management.

ISO 45001 provides an organization with a high level, conceptual understanding of the issues that can affect it either positively or negatively and how its responsibilities regarding workers and, where relevant, workers representatives are managed.

As a result, consideration of an organization’s context must now be an element of the OHSMS design and implementation process.

Risks and Opportunities

A vital part of the planning and implementation of an OHSMS is the requirement to identify the risks and opportunities that can potentially impact its operation and performance and the corresponding ‘proportionate’ actions to address them.


Top management are now required to demonstrate a greater direct involvement in the organization’s OHSMS through direct participation, taking OHS performance into account in strategic planning. The absence of the need for a specific ‘Management Representative’ from ISO 45001:2018 is an attempt to ensure that ‘ownership’ of an organization’s management system is not simply focused on one individual. There is now a focus on ‘leadership’ rather than just management of the OHSMS.

Documented Information

The terms ‘documented procedure’ and ‘record’ used in OHSAS 18001:2007 have both been replaced throughout ISO 45001:2018 by the term ‘documented information’. This is defined as information that needs to be controlled and maintained by an organization. However, it is up to each organization to determine the level and type of documentation necessary to control its OHSMS.

OHSMS Requirements

There are also requirements in addition to OHSAS 18001:2007, including:

  • Proposed specific requirements for organizations in relation to executing a process approach when planning, implementing and developing an OHSMS
  • Adopting a risk-based approach when developing and implementing an OHSMS, closely aligned with organizational context. An organization must identify the risks and opportunities that need to be addressed to ensure that the OHSMS can achieve its intended outcomes
  • Identification of the awareness and competence necessary for workers undertaking tasks that affect an organisation’s health and safety performance
  • Identification and maintenance of the knowledge needed to ensure that an organization can achieve a safe and healthy working environment
  • A risk-based approach to ascertain the type and extent of controls suitable to all types of external provider (outsourcing)

Structure and Terminology

ISO 45001:2018 adopts the clause structure specified in Annex SL, which is now the required framework for all new and revised ISO Standards. The stated intention behind this is to ensure that ISO 45001 is aligned with other management system standards. By utilizing the Annex SL structure, it presents OHSMS requirements in a more consistent, rational manner rather than simply offering a template for the elements of an organization’s OHSMS.

It is important to note that for those organizations that already have an accredited OHSAS 18001:2007 compliant OHSMS, there will be no requirement to change their existing OHSMS procedures and document structure, or the terminology they use, to mirror that specified in ISO 45001:2018.

ISO 45001:2018 Migration

Organizations which already hold accredited certification to OHSAS 18001:2007 will have three years from formal publication of ISO 45001:2018 to migrate to this new standard. Based on the current publication schedule, this transition period will end in March 2021.

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