ISO 45001 Occupational Health & Safety (OHS)

ISO 45001 Occupational Health & Safety (OHS)

ISO 45001 standard is designed for organizations that are serious about improving Employee Safety, Reducing Workplace Risks, & Creating Safer Workplaces.

 According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), there are currently more than 2.78 million deaths a year as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases, in addition to 374 million non-fatal injuries and illnesses. Aside from the enormous impact on families and communities, the cost to business and economies is significant.

What is ISO ?

International Organization for Standardization , the process that describes the best way of doing something to work more efficiently and reduce failures. Tt could be about making a product, managing a process, delivering a service or supplying materials etc. ISO was founded with the idea of answering a fundamental question: “What’s the best way of doing this?”

ISO has been crafted by technical committees of experts from various industries, but also from consumer associations, academia, NGOs and government. With considering the best possible way of following a process, the time taken from first proposal to final publication, it usually takes about 3 years. The process of voting is held for the formulation of final proposal. When that’s achieved, the draft is on its way to becoming an ISO.

Widely used standards such as:

  1. Quality management standards to work more efficiently and reduce product failures.
  2. Environmental management standards to reduce environmental impacts, reduce waste and be sustainable.
  3. Health and safety standards to reduce accidents in the workplace.
  4. Energy management standards to cut energy consumption.
  5. Food safety standards to prevent food from being contaminated.
  6. IT security standards to  keep sensitive information secure.

The International Organization for Standardization ISO has developed over 24597 International Standards and all standards are internationally agreed by experts.


Objectives of ISO 45001 ?

ISO is developing an occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system standard
(ISO 45001) which is intended to enable organizations to manage their OH&S risks and improve
their OH&S performance. The implementation of an OH&S management system will be a strategic
decision for an organization that can be used to support its sustainability initiatives, ensuring
people are safer and healthier and increase profitability at the same time.



ISO 45001:2018, introduced in 2018 by ISO Technical Committee’s ISO/TC 283 is responsible for the on-going development of the new ISO standard ISO 45001 Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements with guidance for use, and the development of supporting guidance and standards. It allows to proactively improve OH&S performance by providing safe and healthy workplaces by preventing work-related injury and ill health.

ISO 45001 builds on the success of earlier 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.

ISO can be integrated with all organizations, public or private, for-profit and not-for-profit, small or large, that will have hazards that can impact on health and safety. The risks can range from mechanical or chemical hazards to more modern concerns such as nanoparticles and workplace stress.

Regardless of the level of an organization, ISO is a requirement for all employees, temporary and permanent, as well as visitors and neighbours. An organization needs to develop collaborative and engaging relationships across all departments and divisions, to ensure that everyone benefits from them.

ISO shares the same core text, High Level Structure (HLS), This framework is intended to facilitate the integration of new management topics into an organization’s established management system. Furthermore, ISO 45001 is designed to work fairly closely with ISO 14001. This is because many organizations are known to combine occupational health and safety and environmental management functions.


Benefits of adopting ISO 45001

These measures will ensure that an organization’s reputation as a safe place to work will be promoted, and can have more direct benefits, such as:

  • Improving its ability to respond to regulatory compliance issues
  • Reducing the overall costs of incidents
  • Reducing downtime and the costs of disruption to operations
  • Reducing the cost of insurance premiums
  • Improving morale, as well as reducing absenteeism and employee turnover rates
  • Recognition for having achieved an international benchmark (which may in turn influence other interested parties, such as customers who are concerned about their social responsibilities)



Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) is a cycle for achieving continual improvement , the PDCA cycle can be applied not only to management systems as a whole, but also to each individual element to provide an ongoing focus on continual improvement. At the core of each stage is ‘Top Management’ who are pivotal to ensure the OH&S system is managed effectively.

PDCA cycle_ image by author
The four stage Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle for achieving continual improvement_image by Author

PLAN – Understand the context of the organization including OH&S risk and opportunities. Establish OH&S objectives, processes and resources required to deliver results in accordance with the organization’s OH&S Policy.

DO – Implement the processes as planned to including worker participation, hazard identification &  emergency preparedness. 

CHECK – Monitor, measure and evaluate OH&S activities and processes.

ACT – Take actions to continually improve findings of incidents, addressing non-conformance and audit findings.


10 clauses of ISO 45001:2018

Clause 1
Clause 2
Normative references
Clause 3
Terms and Defnitions
Clause 4
Context of the organisation
Clause 5
Leadership and worker participation
Clause 6
Clause 7
Clause 8
Clause 9
Performance evaluation
Clause 10

The frst three clauses are introductory, and the remaining seven clauses define the requirements of the ISO 45001:2018 standard and will be evaluated by the certification auditors.


Gaining ISO 45001 Certification

To gain ISO 45001 certified, organisations need to implement OHSMS conformance within the requirements of ISO 45001. Once the OHSMS is in place, organisations can contact a Certification Body (CB) to conduct certification audits.

The CB will assign a team of auditors to verify the organisation’s conformance against the ISO 45001:2018 requirements through audits. ISO 45001 certification verifies that the organisation has established and implemented an effective OHSMS, increasing stakeholder confidence and giving the organisation a competitive advantage.

The audit process are completed in 2 stages:

Stage 1 ‘Readiness Review’ , The auditors will review the organisation’s documented information and site-specific conditions, also review the scope of the management system and gather information on processes, procedures, regulatory requirements, and the levels of control the organisation has established. (time taken to complete the stages depends on the size of the organisation)

Stage 2  ” Nonconformance ” aka “Virtual Review”

This is the most common way of auditing, it can be conducted on-site or remotely,  auditors will visit the organisation’s sites and conduct the audit in-person. The number of audit days depends on factors such as the size and complexity of the organisation.

Certification will only be issued once CAPA’s (Corrective and Preventive Actions) have been taken by the organisation and have been verified by the auditors.

ISO standards aligned with SDG

SDG 17 goals

ISO contributes to all 17 Sustainable development goals

7 goals are contributed when it comes to ISO45001:2018. they are:  3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 16



ESG Consultant / BD / Author @
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