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    Differences Between ISO 45001:2018 and OHSAS 18001

    Before ISO 45001:2018, OHSAS 18001 was the international standard for health and safety. The need for an international standard rose through the lack of consistency in applying the same principles and following the same approach to occupational health and safety severely affected confidence in working and operating in other countries.

    Before 1999 each country had its individual health and safety standard which differed drastically between countries. Not having an international standard severely affected confidence in working and employees operating in other countries. The need for the same standard across borders came at the forefront of international standards.

    To address the barrier for global companies and to resolve confusion surrounding occupational health and safety management, an international group called the OHSAS Project Group was established.

    The International Standards

    Although both OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001 are internationally adopted standards for health and safety, there are differences between them. Both have worked together to bring consistency and standardisation in occupational health and safety across the globe. Since it’s publication ISO 45001:2018 has officially replaced OHSAS 18001.

    We will explore the differences between ISO 45001:2018 and OHASA 18001 below and the impact OHASA 18001 has had globally.

    The International Standards Organisation (ISO)

    The International Standards Organisation (ISO) consists of representatives of quality bodies from over 160 countries that develop standards that are to align and be adopted internationally.

    Although the ISO has their own standard for occupational health and safety called the ISO 45001:2018, there are clear differences between the ISO standard and OHSAS 18001. It is also important to note that OHSAS 18001 is not an ISO standard but a British Standard that has been adopted globally as the guideline for establishing and maintaining occupational health and safety management systems in the workplace.

    The Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSAS)

    OHSAS stands for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems which has been globally accepted because organisations across the globe have recognised the need for standardising health and safety management procedures.

    The OHSAS group was tasked with the development of a standard that could be applied across all industries and countries. Using existing standards as the foundation for the creation of the standard OHSAS was founded.

    OHSAS has a coherent approach to health and safety and consisted of various national standard organisations and agencies. There are also various certification authorities and health institutions globally, in addition to the British Standards body that are directly involved with OHSAS.

    There is a series of OHSAS standards consisting of OHSAS 18001 which outlines the requirements for the occupational health and safety management system and OHSAS 18002 which provides the implementation framework.

    The standard has been updated in 2007 to streamline integration with ISO standards, such as the ISO 9001:2015 series for quality management systems (QMS), and ISO 45001:2018 the series for implementing a health and safety management system (HS&M). Health and safety were the focus points, but the BSI Group has also decided to adopt the standard.

    What are the Differences Between ISO 45001:2018 and OHSAS 18001?

    There are plenty of differences between the two, the main differences come from the focuses of each standard. ISO 45001:2018 concentrates on the interaction between an organisation and its work environment while OHSAS 18001 focuses on managing OH&S hazards and other internal issues.

    But the standards also differ in other ways including:

    • ISO 45001:2018 is process-based – OHSAS 18001 is procedure-based.
    • ISO 45001:2018 is dynamic in all clauses – OHSAS 18001 is set in its clauses.
    • ISO 45001:2018 considers both risk and opportunities – OHSAS 18001 deals exclusively with risk.
    • ISO 45001:2018 includes the views of interested parties – OHSAS 18001 does not.

    With just these basic points, we can see a significant shift in the way health and safety management is perceived and implemented. Occupational health and safety are no longer treated as a “stand alone,” but a focus within running a sound and sustainable organisation.

    What OHSAS 18001 Does not Do

    OHMS 18001 is a specification for the requirements and management of an occupational health and safety management system. The focus being control of occupational risks and improvement in safety performance.

    Although OHMS 18001 does not stipulate the criteria for occupational health and safety performance. It does not provide exact specifications for the development of an occupational health and safety management system.

    This is why implementing OHMS 18001 alongside ISO 45001:2018 is the best health and safety decision an organisation can make.

    Why Implement OHSAS 18001 and ISO 18001:2018 Standards?

    The standards are designed to be integrated in any industry. Implementation is beneficial for an organisation to improve their safety profile and increase the confidence of employees, shareholders, and clients. Although the two standards differ in approach, a management system established using OHSAS 18001 will be a solid platform for integrating to ISO 45001:2018.

    Adoption of both standards enables organisations to accurately and timely:

    • Reduce workplace injuries and improve overall well-being.
    • Comply with health and safety laws.
    • Identify risks related to health and safety.
    • Take proactive steps in prevention of such risks.
    • Reduce accidents and risks of health and safety related incidents.
    • To ensure compliance with legal requirements for their specific industries and the countries in which they operate.
    • Measure health and safety improvements.
    • Establish the organisation’s health and safety commitments and procedures.
    • Helping the organisation save money through addressing risks early.
    • Make minor changes to reduce injuries.
    • Prevent accident and death aligned with the Occupational Health and Safety Act in South Africa.

    Implementing an occupational health and safety management system, allows organisations to improve performance, increase productivity, and reduce financial losses related to accidents or death.

    What are the Steps in Getting OHSAS 18001 and ISO 18001:2018 Certification?

    Implementing either or both of ISO 18001:2018 and OHSAS 18001 have the same basic process.

    The first step entails a GAP analysis, where we assess all shortcomings in conformance and review the company’s existing health and safety management system. Based on the gap analysis recommendations are made for corrective actions.

    Once corrective actions are completed, the audit is performed and if all issues have been adequately addressed, the certification can be awarded.

    After certification, companies would need to follow a compliance maintenance programme to ensure ongoing compliance with the requirements of either ISO 18001:2018 or OHSAS 18001.

    How the WWISE Training Hub Can Help You Get Certified

    At WWISE, we train your personnel in various occupational health and safety aspects, including:

    • Internal audits
    • Leading of internal audit teams
    • External audits
    • Safety officer positions

    Our training ensures your delegates can maintain your health and safety standards according to global standards. Our training is available in:

    • Classroom settings
    • Virtual
    • Long distance
    • eLearning
    • Group training

    We also provide consultation and maintenance in the development of your integrated health and safety management systems.

    If you need to get ISO 45001:2018 certified give us a call at 021 525 9159 or email us at and speak to one of our implementation consultants today.

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