Differences in the Standards you should be aware of

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The requirements in quality, environmental, and occupational health and safety management systems standards are similar, there are some areas where one or more of the standards are stronger or more specific than in the other standards. We’ve made a sample list of the differences in the standards that you should be aware of.

Following are a few things that are different and unique about the quality, OHS and environmental standards. This is not meant to be a complete and comprehensive list – just a sample of some of the differences that organisations miss when developing their systems.

 *Note: The standards referred to are:

  • ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management system – Requirements
  • ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management Systems – Requirements with guidance for use
  • AS/NZS 4801:2001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems – Specification with guidance for use
  • OHSAS 18001:2007 Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements


  1. ISO 9001 does not require targets, only objectives, whereas both ISO 14001 and AS/NZS 4801 require both objectives and targets.
  2. When a non-conformance is identified in an ISO 9001 internal audit, the action to correct it is required to be undertaken by the manager of the area responsible. Both the ISO 14001 and AS/NZS 4801 just require action to be taken, but they do not state by who.
  3. While all three standards require a commitment to continual improvement in their policies – only ISO 9001 has an actual section on continual improvement section 8.5.1
  4. In AS/NZS 4801, documentation is required to be dated. In ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 (and in OHSAS 18001) version control is required but documents do not necessarily have to be dated.
  5. ISO 9001 is the only standard that requires a Manual. Both ISO 14001 and AS/NZS 4801 require a description of the main elements of the management system and their interaction, and reference to related documentation, but not an actual manual.
  6. In AS/NZS 4801 and in an OHSAS 18001 people have to be consulted with regard to their training needs. There is no requirement to consult in ISO 9001 or ISO 14001.
  7. ISO 9001 is much more detailed around the calibration of monitoring and measuring devices. All AS/NZS 4801 and ISO 14001 require is that calibrated equipment is used.
  8. AS/NZS 4801 and OHSAS 18001 require a hierarchy to be used when implementing controls to manage identified hazards and risks. It is not clear in ISO 9001 or in ISO 14001 how controls should be prioritised for quality or environmental issues.
  9. ISO 14001 requires organisations to identify their significant environmental impacts, although there is no specified methodology for this.
  10. Once an organisation has determined its significant environmental aspects and associated impacts – this is then the basis for their objectives, targets and programmes. They do not need objectives and target for all their aspects and impacts.

Have you been tripped up by any of these quirks? Comment below if you’ve found any others.

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