Occupational Health Safety Management Systems

ISO 45001

Occupational Health Safety Management Systems

ISO 45001 is an internationally recognised standard that specifies requirements for an occupational health and safety management system along with guidance for its use.


In 2018 the OHSAS 18001 occupational health and safety standard was replaced with the ISO 45001 occupational health and safety standard. This new ISO standard follows the common framework of standards such as 9001, 14001 and 27001. This should allow you to look at controls taking into account the risks and opportunities that you may already be considering if you already hold one or more of these standards.

For those organisations that already hold OHSAS 18001 you only have until 12/03/2021 to migrate to ISO 45001.The clock is ticking and you will need to consider implementing this into your normal audit cycle to avoid a potentially costly additional audit visit before this date.

The 45001 standard, as with its predecessor, aims to reduce workplace risks and promote employee safety. Working compliantly to this standard will allow you to demonstrate best practice in the safe operation of your business, and employees are encouraged to take an active role in health and safety matters.

Any business, of any size, operating in any area of commerce can apply for ISO 45001 certification, making it extremely popular. Implemented effectively, it demonstrates that you are committed to improving the welfare of your staff and ensuring the safety of all stakeholders who meet you.

All recently updated versions of ISO standards have a common structureof 10 sections enabling any business, working to an ISO standard anywhere in the world, to show evidence of:

1-3 – The Scope of your OHSMS including normative references, terms & definitions

4 – Understanding the context of your organisation including recognising the needs and expectations of interested parties

5 – Leadership and worker participation

6 – Planning of business activities including addressing risks and opportunities and setting objectives that are S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and time-based) that have relevance at all levels of the business meaning each employee understands how their job supports meeting the OHSMS Objectives

7 – Providing support to enable those activities

8 – Operating your business to achieve the OHSMS

9 – Evaluating performance through feedback, internal auditing and management review


Businesses should adopt a “Plan, Do, Check, Act” process approach that can be explained as:

Plan – Your health & safety policies, procedures, work instructions etc.

Do – The actual work you do

Check – How do you monitor, measure, obtain feedback and assess objectives?

Act – Management review activities assess performance and act to improve

This “PDCA” cycle leads to continual improvement and can be summarised as follows:

Why have it?

Many organisations, including large Government departments and many larger commercial organisations with whom you might wish to consider working, make holding ISO 45001 a requirement in their tendering process. Implementing ISO 45001 policies will enable you to demonstrate to customers and stakeholders that your business is committed to health and safety in your workplace.

How do you do it?

To implement ISO 45001:2018 successfully, your organisation should:

  • Gain commitment and support from top management
  • Complete a “Gap-Analysis” where you acquire a copy of the standard and study every section and detail and identify areas where there is work to be done to comply with the standard
  • Create an action plan involving a logical sequence of activities including setting timescales for completion, responsibilities within your organisation and identifying resources needed – summarised as “What, When, Who and How”.
  • Involve everyone working in the business with effective internal communication
  • Encourage employee involvement by offering training and incentives
  • Encourage employees to continually check the OHSMS is working (in effect – to act as internal auditors!)
  • Regularly review your ISO 45001 system to ensure continuous improvement.

You would normally then run with the OHSMS for a period and carry out a full formal internal audit to check everything is in place and the system is working effectively within your business.

Once you feel you are ready for assessment you can call QSS in to conduct your initial assessment audit. We will spend, depending on the complexity of your business, at least the best part of one day auditing the OHSMS against the standard and your documented procedures. This may or may not reveal nonconformities that will have to be addressed and corrected (as applicable) before you are deemed as compliant. Once you are deemed as being compliant QSS will issue a certificate providing third-party confirmation that you meet the requirements of ISO 45001. After initial certification, QSS would re-audit you annually to confirm you continue to meet the requirements of the standard.


As mentioned above you need to first purchase a copy of the standard and then budget costs for implementing and running the OHSMS prior to initial assessment. You may wish to do this yourselves or you may engage an appropriately qualified and experienced independent consultant who can quote to assist you through the preparation process.

QSS can then, on request, complete your initial assessment and set up an annual surveillance cycle.

Please contact us for costs.

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