What you need to know about ISO 45001

Occupational Health and Safety is an area where there is zero margin for error. The financial and reputational loss in such situations can be massive. ISO 45001 is an International Standard that specifies requirements for occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system. ISO 45001 offers organisations guidance for its use and tools regarding how they can proactively improve OH&S performance by preventing injury, ill-health, eliminate hazards and minimise risks. It can be applied to any organisation, regardless of its size, type and nature of the business that wishes to establish, implement and maintain occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system.

An organisation is responsible for ensuring that it minimizes the risk of harm to the people that are involved in its activities. All of ISO 45001 requirements are intended to be integrated into an organisation management process. The standard will align with other ISO management system standards like ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 and will use the Annex SL framework.

ISO 45001 will enable you to meet your legal and moral obligations. Improving health and safety in the workplace not only creates a safer work environment and results in lesser accidents, but also saves time and cost regarding plant shutdowns, employee absenteeism, litigation subsequently improving regulatory compliance and corporate branding.

The standard increases organisational strength through proactive risk prevention, innovation and continuous improvement. Your company complies with legal regulations and demonstrates brand responsibility through secure, healthy and sustainable employment.


ISO 45001: 2018 Certification

The International Standards Organization began work on ISO 45001 Occupational health and safety management systems in 2013. Draft International Standard ISO/DIS 45001 was released in January 2016, and the final Draft was released at the end of November 2017. The new version was published in December 2017 and is replacing OHSAS 18001.

OHSAS 18001 is an internationally recognized British standard for occupational health and safety management. This system was valid for provision of repairs, construction, cleaning, decontamination, testing, commissioning and related design and engineering services for high-pressure pipelines. As of 12th March 2018, it has been superseded by ISO 45001 which is the world’s first international standard for occupational health and safety management systems.

So, BS OHSAS certificates will no longer be valid from March 2021. All organisations, who currently have the certification of OHSAS 18001, will have a three-year period to complete their transition to ISO 45001: 2018.


ISO 45001 benefits

The design of this standard allows you to adapt it to any size business and industry to enhance your performance, productivity and help business growth. The benefits of ISO 45001 certification include the following:

  • Demonstrates your commitment to workplace health and safety.
  • Improves your ability to identify hazards and assess risks.
  • Reduces the costs of workplace incidents and insurance premiums.
  • Increases productivity by reducing downtime.
  • Encourages management involvement and worker participation.
  • Helps to build your brand’s integrity and consumer trust.
  • Fulfills legal and regulatory obligations.
  • Validates your organisation takes health and safety seriously which helps to form more partnerships that grow your bottom line.
  • Demonstrates your compliance with an international standard.
  • Eliminates or minimises risks and hazards.
  • Address OH&S nonconformities connected with the organisation’s activities.
  • Helps achieve continual improvement.


What businesses is ISO 45001 suitable for? 

ISO 45001 is based on Annex SL, the same management system framework as ISO 9001 Quality Management and ISO 14001 Environmental Management. Thousands of people die each day from work-related accidents or diseases all around the world. It was developed to combat the problem of occupational injuries, diseases and employee safety. It is aligned with the 2015 version of those standards so integration should be comparatively easier. With this new version, ISO 45001 completes the QSHE management system triad along with quality and environmental standards.

Like all ISO standards, 45001 is also universal. It is flexible and can be adapted to manage occupational health and safety in a wide range of organisations. This standard will help organisations reduce this number of avoidable fatalities by improving employee safety, reduce workplace risks and create better and safer working conditions.

It is not a legal requirement to have and health and safety certification but it contributes positively to brand recognition and business reputation. People want to work with and support businesses that take health and safety seriously.

Traditionally high risk industries such as building trades and road transport industries put health and safety certification in place to curb accidents in the workplace. For example, the building industry experienced 11 workplace deaths in 2019 and 5229 injuries that resulted in a week or more a way from work. This improved in 2020 with a fall in fatalities to four and 1710 (to May 2020) injuries. And of course road transport drivers push hard to reach destinations to deliver on time while facing the many challenges of being on the road. 

But today, new industries are seeing the benefits of health and safety certification — manufacturing, for example. While safety in the manufacturing industry is not a new concept, they have working from ad hoc guidelines gathered over the years. ISO 45001 provides guidelines for a complete health and safety framework for an organisation.

Implementing ISO 45001 allows all industries to look at continual improvement, risk evaluation and opportunities. It supports businesses taking a more proactive and preventive approach instead of just reacting if an incident occurs. Using ISO 45001 helps you to identify opportunities to manage risks and improve safety even when there is no hazard or risk currently identified. 


ISO 45001 standards can be used by:

  • Large, small and medium-sized enterprises
  • Global conglomerates
  • Non-government organisations (NGOs) and charities
  • Academic institutions
  • Government departments

As an international standard, ISO 45001 surpasses geographical, political, economic, commercial and social boundaries. This sets a single benchmark for the management of occupational health and safety across the globe.

If you are currently working with OHSAS 18001 or country-specific standard AS / NZS 48001, you can upgrade to ISO 45001, within three years. If you have not yet implemented Health and Safety Management, you will have to prepare for the implementation of ISO 45001 from scratch.


What about AS / NZS 4801?

OSHAS 18001 is an internationally applied British standard, while AS/NZS 4801 is specifically relevant to health & safety legislation in New Zealand and Australia. Both certifications have now been replaced by ISO 45001.

The technology behind ISO 45001 enables a new and better methodology for increased involvement of employee and leadership and better control of the workforce as compared to the AS/NZS 4801. It also improves processes for identifying operational hazards and risks, minimizes and eventually eliminates operational risk factors.

Many organisations in New Zealand have quality, environmental or other management systems based on one or more ISO management system standards. Because ISO 45001 has the same structure as other standards, it is easier to integrate an OHSMS into the overall management system.

ISO 45001 will be available as the international version later this year. Standards in New Zealand will then start the process to adopt it in 2019, at which time AS/NZS 4801 will be withdrawn.

ISO 45001:2018 is due for publication in the next few months and will be adopted as a New Zealand standard, NZS ISO 45001:2018, later this year.

The publishing of this new standard represents the beginning of a new era for Occupational Health and Safety across the globe. Once you decide that ISO 45001 is right for you, our consultant will help you establish how your organisation compares to the requirements of the standard.


Simple things you can start doing to improve H&S in your business

There are simple things you can implement to keep your staff safe. These include:

  • Keeping the workplace clean.
  • Using labels and signs.
  • Training employees in workplace safety.
  • Rewarding employees for safe behaviour.
  • Having an open door policy that allows employees to voice their concerns.


But there is more you can do to commit to the health and safety of the people who work for you. Implement ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) and embed it into your organisation’s culture.

We recommend you to consider the support that QICE can give you about ISO 45001 so that your organisation can provide its employees with a safer work environment and set a precedent for other organisations. QICE can provide manufacturers, service providers and product developers in New Zealand with the consulting services and professional tools needed to create their path to greatness. QICE offers not only internal auditing services, management system support and software solutions but also lean management consulting, third party inspection services and customized auditing services so that you can adopt a better management system for your organisation.


Top myths about ISO 45001

There are many myths surrounding ISO 45001 implementation. While putting in place an Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) you may come across them. Do not let these myths put you off. In this article we cover the top five myths so you understand the difference between fact and fiction.

Myth 1 – It creates unnecessary documentation

This is complete fiction. Yes, you do need to document information for ISO 45001 but this is in relation to your processes and how they affect OH&S. As a business you will probably already have unwritten processes. And older businesses may have documents that slow it down.

The latest version of ISO 45001 has fewer documentation requirements. So you only need to documentation where it is necessary and relevant for the system. For example, for risk mitigation and employee training. How you do this depends on the type of business and its size. And using cloud technology can reduce your documentation further.

Myth 2 – Implementing ISO 45001 has no value

All too often people believe that an OHSMS is just a costly paper exercise with no real value. This is not true if you make the system work for your organisation. The whole point of an OHSMS is to prevent workplace accidents and illness. It will help you continually improve your processes which will help your organisation operate more efficiently.

Myth 3 – ISO 45001 is only for organisations with hazardous operations

ISO 45001 is not only for organisations with hazardous operations. While certification helps these organisations deal with workplace risks, any organisation can benefit from implementing an OHSMS. By embedding the system into your organisation it will improve OH&S performance. Complying with ISO 45001 means all organisations will have cost savings through reducing accidents and risks in the workplace.

Myth 4 – No need for ISO 45001 if legally compliant

All businesses should be legally compliant regardless of whether they have ISO 45001 certification or not. Being legally compliant is an important part of an OHSMS, but it is more than that. As part of implementation, the standard requires that you not only identify the legal requirements for your business, but also to determine how to remain compliant and measure your compliance on an ongoing basis.

Myth 5 – Implementing ISO 45001 is too hard

It may be challenging to implement ISO 45001 if you do not know what you are doing. But it does not have to be hard. Engage an ISO specialist to work with your organisation to achieve certification. A consultant will work with your key people to develop unique solutions specific to the organisation and your way of doing business.

Do not let myths stop you

Do not let myths stop you from implementing ISO 45001. For success, tailor the OHSMS processes to meet staff needs and your organisation’s philosophy. OH&S is important in every workplace.

Contact us for more information about ISO 45001 certification.