Difference Between ISO 45001 AND OHSAS 18001

  • Purpose of the standard remains the same; many of the topics covered in the OHSAS 18001 have been included in the current ISO 45001.
  • The ISO 45001 will follow the new format “High-Level Structure” of Annex SL, the new ISO (HLS) that introduces a mutual framework to all management systems standards published from ISO. Which means it will be at par with the revised versions of ISO 14001 and ISO 9001.
  • In ISO 45001, there is a greater focus on the environment in which the organization works, as well as a greater role assigned to the top management.
  • Easier integration with other standards since the structure (HLS) will be identical. Easier integration with ISO 14001, as earlier, since many organizations, especially SMEs, might assign a person (HSE Manager / Management Representative) who follows both aspects of environmental and OH&S security as they are often considered as related areas.
  • ISO 45001:2018 standard provides additional focus on process approach, and clarifies why it is essential to implement it in each business process of the organization.
  • The 45001 maintains the same commitments of 18001 to regulatory requirements and legal compliances, but strengthening the basic concepts
  • Leadership and culture: Specific requirements for top management (with accountabilities defined) in terms of demonstrating leadership, commitment and encouraging a positive occupational health and safety culture within the organization
  • Documentation flexibility
  • Greater Importance and mandatory requirements on Hierarchy of controls
  • Proactive strategic approach- including implementation of Operational Controls
  • ISO 45001 focuses on identifying and controlling risks, rather than hazards, as was required in OHSAS 18001.
  • Some of the terminology will be sameas other management systems while also maintaining a different specialized approach on OH&S management system
  • Risk-based thinking is one of the major changes in ISO 45001 compared to OHSAS 18001.
  • It will require from organizations to consider the risks and opportunities associated with the issues that are identified in clause 4.1 (Context Of the Organization which needs to be more explicit), and more specifically with regards to all the relevant interested parties. This clause has brought a notable change to the standard, by changing preventive actions and reducing the need for curative actions.
  • Better focus on interested parties (stakeholders is another change in ISO 45001:2018. The changes that are made are put into two new sub-clauses: “Understanding the organization and its context- Clause 4.1” and “Understanding the needs and expectation of interested parties- Clause 4.2” whereas the general requirement (clause 4.1) of OHSAS 18001 is also incorporated into the ISO 45001.

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Incorporation of Annex SL as a basis in the new ISO 45001 standard – the new ISO 45001 high- level structure (HLS) in comparison with the 18001 means that, the structure (10 Clauses instead of 4 Clauses) of the new ISO 45001 standard will be as follows:

  1. Scope
  2. Normative references
  3. Terms and definitions
  4. Context of the organization
  5. Leadership ¥ Planning
  6. Support
  7. Operation
  8. Performance evaluation
  9. Improvement

The first major change in ISO 45001 thus is that there are now ten sections instead of four as they were in OHSAS 18001.

Within this structure of the clauses, these 10 clauses are organized and framed by four steps called “Plan-Do-Check-Act” (PDCA) method. The first three clauses consist of general information and support for understanding the clauses. They are not a part of the PCDA, they consist of general information and support for understanding the clauses.

Clauses 4-7 fall under plan,
Clause 8-Operation falls under do,
Clause 9- Performance Evaluation falls under check, and
Clause 10-Improvement falls under act.


4.1 Understanding your organization and its context
4.2 Understanding and making into knowledge the needs and expectations of interested parties
8.1.2 Hierarchy of controls 8.2 Management of change
8.3 Outsourcing
8.4 Procurement
8.5 Contractors

What’s new?

There are several key changes from 10 Clauses instead of 4 Clauses from ISO 45001 to OHSAS 18001 in regards to structure.
Overall the purpose of both the standard remains the same. In regards to the structure of the clauses, some key changes in the standard ISO 45001 are:

  • ISO 45001 Certification focuses on identifying and controlling risks, rather than hazards as it is required in OHSAS 18001
  • the new standard provides exceptional focus on process approach, and clarifies why it is essential to really implement it throughout the organization
  • The commitments are the same but there is strengthening within the basic concepts
  • There are new strategic requirements of top management (in terms of demonstrating accountabilities) in terms of demonstrating leadership, commitment and encouraging a positive occupational health and safety culture throughout the organization
  • ISO 45001 has more documentation flexibility
  • Emphasis put on the implementation of hierarchy of controls
  • Proactive strategic approach

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