For many years, OSHA Regulations continue to assisted organizations worldwide in recognizing the need to control and improve health and safety performance for their workers.

Often that objective has been achieved by incorporating and implementing so called occupational health and safety management systems (OHSMS).

Very soon the final ISO 45001 standard will assist that process.


Before 1999, the world industries found itself facing the fact the too many organizations had too many national standards and proprietary certification schemes to choose from…and, this caused confusion and fragmentation in the marketplace.  Eventually this condition began to undermine the credibility of these individual schemes.

Nonetheless, the need to have such occupational health and safety controls in place within organizations remained strong.

Recognizing this issue, an international collaboration called the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) Project Group was formed to create a single and unified approach to creating, evaluating and implementing such controls.

This group was comprised of many representative coming from existing national standards groups, academic institutions, existing certification bodies and occupational safety and health institutions, with the United Kingdom’s national standards body – BSI Group – becoming the secretariat role and function of that group.

Drawing on the best of existing standards and schemes existing at that time, this OHSAS Project Group published the OHSAS 18000 Series of standards.  This was done in 1999 with the Series consisting of two specifications:

          OHSAS 18001 – Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems—Requirements (officially BS OHSAS 18001) is an internationally applied British Standard for occupational health and safety management systems. It exists to help all kinds of organizations put in place demonstrably sound occupational health and safety performance. It is a widely recognized and popular occupational health and safety management system which provided requirements for an OHS management system and

          OHSAS 18002 – which gave implementation guidelines of that OHS management system

As of 2005, around 16,000 organizations in more than 80 countries were using the OHSAS 18001 specification, and then by 2009 more than 54,000 certificates had been issued in 116 countries to OHSAS or equivalent OHSMS standards.

The OHSAS 18001 specification was updated in July 2007. Among other changes, the new specification was more closely aligned with the structures of ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 so that organizations could more easily adopt OHSAS 18001 alongside existing management systems.

Later, the BSI Group decided to adopt OHSAS 18001 as a British standard.

BSI Group subsequently adopted the updated 18002 guidance specification for publication as BS OHSAS 18002 in 2008.

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OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001

As we begin to see the transition of OHSAS 18001 to the world of ISO, it is important to avoid confusion with the fact that while there is already an ISO 18000 standard – it is a radio-frequency related standard.

In October 2013, work began to create a future international standard to enable organizations to put in place an occupational health and safety management system in place (OH&S).

Originally, these discussions were open to all interested parties, and included companies, professional organizations, trade unions, certification bodies, prevention focused groups, universities, consultants, etc.

By December 2013 the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved a project proposal to develop the ISO 45001 standard, an ISO analogue to the OHSAS 18000 standards.

It was hoped by the ISO sub-committee organizing the standard at that time, that this standard would attain more international recognition and implementation than the relevant OHSAS standards had achieved up to that time.

From that time to between March and May 2015, nearly 60 countries participating in this international work, steered by the British Standards Institution, had been consulted on a second version of the draft (known as a CD).

Each country had put forward its vision of occupational health and safety management, actively supported by the bodies and professionals involved in this international work via the AFNOR standardization committee.


 “This new draft is a major advance compared with OHSAS 18001, which serves partly as a basis for the work: all participants are working to ensure that the future ISO standard places employees and their representatives at the core of the OH&S management system,” explains Florence Saillet, Secretary of the “Occupational Health and Safety at work” committee for the development of this standard.

The goal is therefore to go further than the standard developed by BSI in 1999 and then revised in 2007. “Workers are now the central focus of all stages proposed by the management system currently under preparation. The same applies to risk prevention. The future ISO 45001 introduces the notion of active participation by employees and their representatives in risk prevention and the notion of proactive management of OH&S risks.”

ISO 45001 will also have a high level structure (HLS) already adopted for the new versions of ISO 9001 (quality) and ISO 14001 (environment) published in 2015.

It is believed by ISO that this idea would help facilitate combined approaches, with a large number of common requirements by the standards that will make up this new proposed  Quality-Safety-Environment (QSE) trio.

ISO 45001 is also intended to align with the International Labor Office (Geneva)’s publication of its guidelines document entitled: ILO-OSH 2001: Guidelines on occupational safety and health management systems.

“The benefits of an ongoing organizational structure in this area are many, as already proven by the success of OHSAS 18001,” says Florence Saillet“The idea is therefore to capitalize on experience with this standard but also on that of the ILO with their ILO-OSH, to help us manage professional risks better, take account of OH&S in all of an enterprise’s functions, increase sharing of good practices, etc.”

According to the International Labor Office (Geneva), (ILO), which is playing an active part in this work, the economic cost of bad occupational health and safety practices represents 4% of the gross domestic product each year.

For employers, the cost is considerable in terms of early retirements, loss of qualified staff, absenteeism and high insurance premiums resulting from work-related accidents and illnesses.


  • Early 2016: submission to a public inquiry, so that everyone and anyone can read the draft and be entirely free to make online comments. Each participant in the public inquiry will then be invited to a comments examination meeting.
  • Mid-2016: official text now ready for final voting (known as FDIS).

Bottom line is that if your organization’s risk management team views occupational health and safety of its workers as a topic of potential risk, then please pass this information along to them.


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