by Ismael Belmarez
Workplace safety is a vital concern for every organization. According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.9 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2016—costing employers tens of billions of dollars.
This year, the leading certification standard for occupational health and safety—OHSAS 18001—is changing to ISO 45001. Organizations will find much commonality among the two programs, as well as a few key differences.
Of particular note, ISO 45001 uses a high-level structure (HLS), which makes it consistent with other ISO management systems standards such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001—both of which have undergone updates in recent years. The goal is to base the family of ISO standards on a common functional structure that allows organizations to easily understand and prepare for certification audits across all the standards. Think of it as an operating system for your computer or phone—it allows any number of individual applications to run smoothly without having to reinvent the basic rules for how things work on that device. The HLS does that for the various ISO standards.
The HLS brings a new level of sophistication and ease of use to organizations seeking certification. It elevates the issue of workplace safety to a more strategic position and offers a greater level of seamlessness with other ISO standards.
Further specific differences in the requirements of the proposed standard include:
- Business context: Chapter 4.1, external and internal issues introduces new clauses for systematic determination and monitoring of the business context.
- Workers and other interested parties: Chapter 4.2 introduces enhanced focus on needs and expectations for workers and other interested parties and worker involvement. This to systematically identify and understand factors that need to be managed through the management system.
- Risk and opportunity management: Described in chapters 6.1.1, 126.96.36.199, 6.1.4, companies are to determine, consider, and where necessary, take action to address any risks or opportunities that may impact (either positively or negatively) the ability of the management system to deliver its intended results, including enhanced health and safety at the workplace.
- Leadership and management commitment: Stated in chapter 5.1, ISO 45001 has stronger emphasis on top management to actively engage and take accountability for the effectiveness of the management system.
- Objectives and performance: Strengthened focus on objectives as drivers for improvements (chapters 6.2.1, 6.2.2) and performance evaluation (chapter 9.1.1).
- Extended requirements related to:
- Participation, consultation, and participation of workers (5.4)
- Communication (7.4): More prescriptive in respect of the “mechanics” of communication, including determination of what, when and how to communicate.
- Procurement, including outsourced processes, and contractors (8.1.4)
The migration of OHSAS into ISO reflects the 21st century needs and challenges. OHSAS has roots as a British standard first published in 1999. As part of the ISO family, it now shares company with the world’s most widely recognized technical and business-process standards.
“Certainly OHSAS has been very effective, but there comes a point at which you need to have true global participation and relevance to make a standard work in a modern business environment,” DNV GL Business Assurance North America Marketing and Communications Director Faith Beaty said.
Organizations already certified to OHSAS 18001 will have three years to comply with the new ISO 45001 standard.
Click here to watch the “Transitioning to ISO 45001: How to get started” on demand webinar with Ismael Belmarez, Accreditation Technical Manager, DNV GL Business Assurance North America, Debra M. Hay Hampton, Cornerstone Engineering, Training, and Consulting (CETC), and Quality Digest’s editor in chief, Dirk Dusharme.
About the author
Ismael Belmarez has been auditing management system standards for over 25 years. Belmarez earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1990 from the University of Houston.
He is currently the accreditation technical manager for DNV GL North America and has experience with multiple standards including ISO 9001, TS 16949, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001, ISO 45001, AS91XX, and TL 9000 as well as the associated governing documents for accreditations.
This article was previously published in Quality Digest, January 16, 2018 and has been re-published here with permission.