Migration from OHSAS 18001. Hello ISO 45001! No cause for GDPR-style deadline panic. However, it’s certainly time to consider moving on.

This is probably the one standard that will keep your senior management out of the courts. Therefore, it’s certainly worth having “the latest and the best” in this area.

ISO 45001 was released in March 2018. Migration from OHSAS 18001 has a window of three years.  If you are fearful of an ISO Consultant charging for twenty days’ work for simply shuffling a few paragraphs, maybe it’s time to read on. It’s not as bad as you might think, although the standard is quite different in some significant aspects.

We thought it prudent to put together some FAQs in our usual no-nonsense manner. Our senior consultant has been working with OHSAS 18001 and its practical application (or not) since 1999. His observations are deeply rooted in the real world.

Why the Change?

The standard has been around more or less in the same format for almost 20 years. Meanwhile, the whole focus on occupational health and safety has increased significantly in that time. The rise of the compensation culture is one of the drivers. However, there’ s also the issue of OHSAS 18001 aligning with the other ISO family of standards.  This actually may be to benefit of companies holding more recent standards.

Health and Safety Joins the ISO Family?

Yes. This is more than a bureaucratic-driven administrative change; this has implications in The Real World. The latest standards (9001:2015, 14001:2015, 27001:2013) share a common core of requirements and structure (“Annex SL”). This means that any standard designed around the “Annex SL” core has the same structure. It makes the implementation of more than one standard much quicker and easier. Therefore, if you already hold ISO 9001:2015, you may already have some of the basic foundations for ISO 45001.

Any Changes in Emphasis?

Yes, several. Firstly, there’s the whole business of “organisational context”, an Annex SL item. It covers the setting of the business and its desired impact on its chosen market and wider society. Also, it addresses common concerns and comments with earlier versions of all the management system standards which raised the largely unmentioned areas of business planning and strategic intent.

Secondly, common with the other standards, there’ s a new focus on ‘risk’ rather than just process. This is perhaps less of a change for OHSAS 18001 than for ISO 9001 for instance, but its still a “tweak” to the requirements which needs to be understood.

Thirdly, in another ‘scope-widening’ exercise, the standard places greater emphasis on the responsibilities of suppliers and contractors in respect of organisational health and safety. Controls should be in place as you are the purchasing authority.

Finally, there are new definitions of “risk”, “hazard” and “workplace”. Again, this sounds minor and pedantic (which it probably is to some extent).  But there are significant, practical implications arising from this change that we don’t have time to explain here.

What Stays the Same?

Amongst the fine-tuning of definitions and widening of scope, there’s still the laudable aim of reducing unacceptable risk. The focus of the standard remains on safety and well-being of everyone involved in an organisation’s activities.

Migration from OHSAS 18001. How Long Should It Take?

This completely depends on the scale of a company.  Also,the “will” of senior management to get the ball rolling. The Annex SL changes mentioned earlier place more focus on senior management involvement. Therefore,  the interest and involvement of senior staff are a very necessary part of a successfully managed business. If you are one of those rare remaining MD’s who believe they have staff to take on all the responsibilities while you play golf and count the money then this standard probably isn’t meant for you. But we would offer one piece of advise if you fit this category;- make sure you regularly practise the phrase “Well, Your Honour” and get ready for your day in court. Without an effective methodical way of managing Health and Safety risks, like ISO 45001, its only a matter of time until you’ll be explaining your management style and philosophy to a court of law !

Migration from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001. If we can help, please feel free to contact us.

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