ISO 45001 Standard: What next?

By HSE East Africa | Tuesday Aug 22, 2017

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), over 6,300 people die each day from work-related accidents or diseases - that's nearly 2.3 million every year. The burden of occupational injuries and diseases is significant, both for employers and the wider economy, resulting in losses from early retirements, staff absence and rising insurance premiums.


The Occupational Health and Safety Assessment series (OHSAS), published in 1999, consisted of two specifications: 18001 provided requirements for an occupational health and safety management system and 18002 existed as the implementation guidelines.


The standards provided coherent guidelines to help employers manage and control health and safety risks to achieve a healthy working environment, reduce the risk of accidents, aid legal compliance and improve overall performance.

Despite the OHSAS series helping to maintain health and safety strategies in many workplaces, some countries still did not comply and instead, followed their own regulations, causing inconsistencies worldwide.

To achieve consistency and ensure health and safety standards were being met internationally, the International Standards Community sought guidance from the International Standards Organization (ISO) to publish a truly global standard: ISO 45001 (Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements)

The ISO 45001 standard is currently being developed by a committee of occupational health and safety experts, and will follow other generic management system approaches such as ISO 14001 and ISO 9001. It will take into account other International Standards in this area such as OHSAS 18001, the International Labour Organization's ILO-OSH Guidelines, various national standards and the ILO's international labour standards and conventions.

The second version of the draft international standard ISO 45001, Standard has been approved, moving the standard another big step toward publication. ISO's PC283 committee will in September 2017 determine whether a final version of the ISO 45001 standard is required. If not, the final standard is likely to be published in late 2017. If so, however, the publication can be published during the first quarter of 2018.

It is expected that the ISO 45001 Standard will help organizations by providing a framework to improve employee safety, reduce workplace risks and create better, safer working conditions, all over the world. The standard brings occupational health and safety management and continual improvement into the heart of an organization hence providing an opportunity for organizations to align their strategic direction with their OH&S management system. In addition, there is an increased focus on improving occupational health and safety performance.

OHSAS 18001 will be withdrawn after 3 years following publication of ISO 45001, therefore certificates will lapse. Organizations that have certification to OHSAS 18001 will need to migrate to ISO 45001 to maintain the validity of certification.

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