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ISO 45001 is the new international standard for an Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS). An OHSMS is a fundamental part of an organization's risk management strategy. Implementing an OHSMS enables an organization to protect its workforce and others under its control.

What is ISO 45001:2018?


An Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) is a fundamental part of an organization's risk management strategy. Implementing an OHSMS enables an organization to:

  • Protect its workforce and others under its control 
  • Comply with legal requirements 
  • Facilitate continual improvement

ISO 45001 will be the new international standard for an OHSMS. While it is similar to OHSAS 18001, the new ISO 45001 standard adopts the Annex SL top-level framework of all new and revised ISO management system standards. ISO 45001 can be aligned with other management systems standards, such as ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015. Below are key requirements and differences from OHSAS 18001.

ISO 45001 Standard – Key Areas and Organization Context

ISO 45001 places a strong focus on an organization’s context. It requires the organization to consider what stakeholders expect from it in terms of occupational health and safety management. The organization must determine which interested parties are relevant to its OHSMS and also determine the relevant requirements of those interested parties.

The intent of ISO 45001 is to provide an organization with a high-level understanding of the important issues that can affect it either positively or negatively and how it manages its occupational health and safety responsibilities towards its workers.

Issues of interest are those that affect the organization’s ability to achieve its intended outcomes. These include the objectives it has set for its OHSMS, such as meeting its OHS policy commitments.

OHS Leadership

Top management must now demonstrate its involvement and engagement with the OHSMS through direct participation, taking OHS performance into account in strategic planning.

Top management must also contribute to the effectiveness of the OHSMS by playing an active role in directing, supporting and communicating with workers, and promoting and leading organizational OHSMS culture.

This new standard clearly defines the requirements for top management responsibility and accountability in regard to occupational health and safety management. This is to ensure that ultimate responsibility cannot be delegated to health and safety or other managers within an organization.

Participation and Consultation

The standard requires the organization’s top management to encourage consultation with, and participation from workers and their representatives, as these are key factors in OHS Management.
Consultation implies two-way communication – dialogue and exchanges – and involves the timely provision of the information that workers and their representatives require before the organization can make a decision.

The OHS management system depends on worker participation, which enables workers to contribute to decision making regarding OHS performance and provide feedback on proposed changes.

The organization must encourage workers at all levels to report hazardous situations, so that preventive measures can be put in place and corrective action taken. Workers must also be able to report and suggest areas of improvement without fearing dismissal, disciplinary action or similar reprisals.

Risk Based Approach to the OHSMS

Closely aligned with the focus on organizational context is the requirement to adopt a risk based approach when developing and implementing an OHSMS. An organization must identify the risks and opportunities that it must address to ensure that the OHSMS can achieve its intended outcomes.

These risks and opportunities include those relevant to, or determined by its organizational context. The organization must plan actions that address these risks and opportunities, implement them into its OHSMS processes and evaluate the effectiveness of these actions.


The standard requires an organization to ensure that outsourced processes affecting its OHSMS are defined and controlled. When outsourced products and/or services supplied are under the control of the organization, supplier and contractor risk must be managed effectively.

Documented Information

The term "documented information" is used instead of "documents and records", which was present in OHSAS 18001. Evidence from processed information not held in a formal document system, such as electronic information held on smart phones and tablets, will now be accepted.

Migrating from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001

If your organization currently holds accredited OHSAS 18001 certification, you will have three years from the formal publication of the new standard in which to migrate to the new ISO 45001 standard. To best prepare for this, holders of OHSAS 18001 are advised to work through the following steps:

  • Obtain a copy of the new standard
  • Set your company's strategy and engage stakeholders
  • Develop an implementation plan
  • Ensure any new competency requirements are met and create awareness for all parties that have an impact on the effectiveness of the Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS)
  • Review and confirm leadership roles, responsibilities and accountabilities
  • Review systems for the management of outsourced products and services
  • Review and understand the requirements for risks and opportunities
  • Ensure that the requirements for "Documented Information" are understood
  • Update the existing OHSMS to meet the new requirements and provide verification of its effectiveness
  • Communicate with SGS with regards to your migration arrangements

How can SGS help?


To begin the process of becoming ISO 45001 certified, you can complete our ISO 45001 Readiness Checklist to gauge your readiness level. It will provide valuable insights and enable you to determine next steps for your organization and to ensure a smooth migration to latest version of the standard.

Click here to download the checklist


This complimentary webinar, guides you through the new structure and terminology, the differences between ISO 45001 and other health and safety standards, and other important changes that will affect organizations planning to migrate to the new standard.

Access the Recording


To help you learn about ISO 45001 and the route to certification SGS has published a new booklet, The Route to ISO 45001, Avoiding the Pitfalls, which is free to download.

Click here to download the Pitfalls Booklet


SGS is the first certification body to have ISO 45001 International Register of Certified Auditors (IRCA) and Chartered Quality Institute (CQI) certified courses, which can be delivered across multiple countries. We can provide awareness training to help you to understand the requirements of ISO 45001, Annex SL, Risk Based Thinking and Empowering Leadership.

• Introduction to ISO 45001:2018 Training
• ISO 45001:2018 Auditor Migration Course – Module 2
• ISO 45001:2018 Internal Auditor Training
• ISO 45001:2018 Auditor / Lead Auditor Training
• ISO 45001:2018 Implementation & Documentation Training

Click here to learn more (Enjoy 10% off via online booking)

On request, we can provide a gap analysis which can be used to highlight the changes that will need to be made for migration from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001 certification.
Contact us to learn more about ISO 45001 migration.

Future Updates

A copy of the ISO 45001 standard will be available shortly and can be purchased from the ISO Store. The official ISO 45001 Working Group (ISO/PC 283) was responsible for developing and publishing the ISO 45001 standard. Further news of the publication of ISO 45001 will be issued once available.

Contact Us

Certification and Business Enhancement, SGS Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2765 3620

About SGS

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 95,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,400 offices and laboratories around the world. SGS has a global network of qualified experts to certify OH&S management systems or help clients understand improvement needs in the area of OH&S. SGS is the leading certification body in Management Systems certification and training.