What is different in ISO 45001?

Large construction site with words

In Australia and New Zealand, we have had AS/NZS 4801 since 2001, and in the world of management system standards that is quite a long time. Whilst the British did come up with OHSMS 18001 in 1999, last reviewed in 2007, this has been treated as a more international standard than 4801 however, it is still not an ISO standard. But the wait is nearly over – ISO 45001 is on its way. But it asks the question – what is different in ISO 45001?

A committee draft was already released some time ago, and we now have the DIS (draft international standard). Only the FDIS (final draft international standard) is to come before the final approval and release date.

ISO 45001 is expected to be officially released later in 2016, probably around August/September.

We currently have two standards for Occupational health and safety management systems within Australia and New Zealand.

  • OHSAS 18001:2007 Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements
  • AS/NZS 4801:2001 Occupational health and safety management systems – Specification with guidance for use.

So what is different in the new ISO 45001? This is by no means a full list word by word, it’s a more general look at some of the new requirements that we find interesting.

  1. ISO 45001 follows 10 clauses of SL9 the ISO High-Level Structure, as does,

It will be easier for integration and alignment with other management system standards.

  1. The incident definition now includes a note that an incident can occur where there is no nonconformity – things can be working as they should and an incident can still happen.
  2. The OH&S management system processes now have to be integrated into the organization’s business processes. This is brilliant and should mean no more separate OHS procedures and instructions – it should just be part of the every day.
  3. Top management now takes overall responsibility and accountability for the protection of workers’ work-related health and safety. Top management in both AS/NZS 4801 and OHSAS 18001 were responsible, but they could delegate the accountability. Now the buck goes all the way to the top before it stops.
  4. The word “systematically” has been included when identifying and taking actions to address work-related hazards and risks, nonconformities, and opportunities. AS/NZS 4801 and OHSAS 18001 previously required methodologies and documented procedures, but ISO 45001 improves on this by requiring these to be systematic.
  5. Targets are no longer required as they used to be in AS/NZS 4801. Interestingly OHSAS 18001 never required them. They are however still mentioned in ISO 45001 in the definition of an objective where it explains that an objective may be called something else e.g. aim, goal or target. Let’s hope some of those silly safety targets now disappear.
  6. The active participation of workers is now required along with the identification and removal of any obstacles or barriers to consultation. Suggested possible obstacles and barriers are mentioned, such as, failure to respond to worker input or suggestions, language or literacy barriers, reprisals, threats of reprisals and policies or practices that discourage or penalize worker participation.
  7. Also, there is additional strength in the participation and inclusion of non-managerial workers. All workers now have to be involved – these are the people that do the work, and they are the people that are most likely to get injured.
  8. “Adapting work to workers” has been included as a way of controlling processes. It is now clearer that “things have always been done like this” is not an acceptable control measure.
  9. Multi-employer workplaces are now included along with the coordination of the (relevant parts of the) OH&S management system with other organizations. This will be very applicable for building and construction sites, where many tradespeople are working, each possibly with a different employer, and a different system of management.
  10. The hierarchy of control is in the requirements of ISO 45001 similar to OHSAS 18001, whereas AS/NZS 4801 have it only in the guidance. Isolation is not included which is a bit disappointing. The hierarchy of control is an important methodology for controlling hazards and whilst quite straightforward rarely seems to be used in practice with most hazards being controlled through signage, documentation and training (administration), and hard hats, safety boots and protective eyewear (PPE).
  11. The management of change is strengthened in ISO 45001 and requires that an organization is aware of any new risks that arise from changes, such as new products, processes, services, changes to plant and equipment, or applicable legal and other requirement changes, to name a few. This should ensure a more structured and thoughtful approach to change management and make people stop and think before they leap into change without thinking of the new risks that the change itself may introduce.
  12. Continual improvement, which is a recurring activity to enhance performance, now explains that continual does not mean continuous. This clarifies that the “recurring activity” does not to take place in all areas simultaneously and go on forever, but that it needs to be tailored to suit different situations, and may stop and start.

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