Changes to ISO 45001 OHSMS requirements

The new ISO 45001—Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems is expected to be published in October 2016. The latest draft of the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) new occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS) standard was released for public comment on Feb. 12, 2016. The original intent in developing ISO 45001 was to replace the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001 standard with an ISO standard.

Because OHSAS 18001 is a mature standard with more than 100,000 certifications worldwide, it seemed it would be easy to draft a new standard using the Annex SL structure, such as ISO 9001:2015 uses. That turned out not to be the case. More importantly, the draft international standard version of ISO 45001 (ISO/DIS 45001) bears little resemblance to OHSAS 18001.

There are a number of areas where the requirements in ISO/DIS 45001 represent a significant departure from those set out in OHSAS 18001 and Annex SL. These include the following key changes:

  • Increased emphasis on worker participation and the inclusion of explicit requirements for involving workers’ representatives in organizational decision making.
  • Complex planning requirements that would replace Annex SL’s risk-based thinking approach with requirements to control every risk and opportunity.

A major concern associated with ISO 45001 is that there may not be an opportunity to improve the language. Currently, the publication of ISO/DIS 45001 as the new ISO OHSMS standard is being voted on. Those participating in this standard’s development must decide whether the current language is good enough. We will keep you informed as to the vote and publication progression.

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