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Taking Care of Business

Enhancements made to occupational health and safety certification

The introduction of ISO 45001:2018 has created some welcome enhancements to occupational health and safety certification and best practice. Those already certified to OHSAS 18001 have less than three years to migrate to the new standard and Kate Breslin, product manager at SGS, explains all you need to know.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), in 2017 there were 2.78 million fatal accidents at work. Not surprisingly, occupational health and safety is in the spotlight more than ever and since it was introduced in 1999 OHSAS 18001 has helped to enhance the development of accident prevention and risk management strategies. In March this year ISO 45001:2018 was ratified and will supersede OHSAS 18001, which will be withdrawn in 2021, and organisations are being urged to make the migration to the new standard.

Mind and matter

When we think of health and safety it is usually physical protection that springs to mind. While this is obviously important, so too is the psychological wellbeing of employees and the introduction of ISO 45001:2018 came soon after the Thriving at Work report, which was led by mental health campaigner, Dennis Stevenson, and Paul Farmer, chief executive at Mind and chair of the National Health Service (NHS) Mental Health Taskforce. It made 40 recommendations for businesses, regulators, the government and the public sector after it found one worker in six suffers from a mental illness and 300,000 people with long-term mental health problems lose their jobs every year.

The report also called on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to increase its focus on mental health during inspections and set out a framework that all UK employers, no matter what their size or industry, should implement to quickly address any issues. As a result, as well as protecting workers from workplace related injury and ill health, ISO 45001:2018 will help ensure provision of tailored in-house mental health support.

Building blocks

Standards are constantly evolving and ISO 45001:2018 builds on the established foundations of OHSAS 18001. It is designed to integrate with other ISO management systems standards to create an all-encompassing system.

The structure of this new standard will be based on ISO’s Annex SL and is also based upon the Plan, Do, Check, Act structure pioneered by management quality expert, W Edwards Deming. This is used to ensure that the hazards and risks associated with an organisation’s activities, products and services are systematically identified, assessed, controlled, monitored and continuously improved.

The framework for Annex SL consists of 10 clauses, which render all ISO management systems more compatible and consistent, giving writers, management and auditors the advantage of a basic set of generic requirements as a guideline to follow. It has simplified the use of ISO management systems and eliminated the differences previously experienced in the perception and implementation of such standards. By providing standardised text, terms and definitions for management system standards, Annex SL has also lowered the administrative costs for organisations that choose to apply more than one standard.

Top down approach


Although there are similarities between OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001:2018, there are some key differences too and the most fundamental concerns the role of top management. The new standard requires them to be much more involved in understanding an organisation’s risks, opportunities and stakeholder expectations, along with ensuring that its operational objectives are compatible with its overall strategic direction. They will also have to be involved with the integration of the management system by providing adequate resources and support.

In addition, understanding the internal and external factors that can affect an organisation’s ability to manage its occupational health and safety performance and achieve its intended outcomes is to the fore. ISO 45001:2018 also facilitates an understanding of the needs and expectations of workers and other interested parties, so that existing knowledge can be considered when establishing a management system.

‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,’ is the now famous quote from renowned management consultant, Peter Drucker. ISO 45001:2018 recognises the importance of the gathering and analysis of data and requires an organisation to implement key indicators. This leads to a structured assessment of performance and organisations are expected to establish monitoring and measuring that is relevant, reliable and ensure that results are evaluated and analysed. The reporting and investigation of incidents allows hazards to be eliminated and associated risks to be minimised, with documented information communicated to relevant workers and other interested parties.

A healthy approach

ISO 45001:2018 certification clearly and unambiguously demonstrates a company's commitment to providing a safer working environment and protecting its employees, as far is feasibly possible, against the possibility of injury and mental ill-health at work. Heath and safety ranks as one of the most important elements of an organisation’s operational activities and undertaking training with a UK accredited certification body such as SGS can ensure a smooth migration from OHSAS 18001 to this standard, which ISO describes as a ‘game changer’.

The SGS Academy provides various training courses for ISO 45001:2018 around the country, as detailed below:

  • ISO 45001:2018 Auditor Migration Course – 24 September, Birmingham
  • ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety Introduction & Awareness Training Course – 27 November, Swindon
  • ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety Internal Auditor Training Course – 28 November, Swindon
  • ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems Auditor / Lead Auditor Training Course – 3 December, Stratford-upon-Avon
  • ISO 45001:2018 Auditor Migration Course – Module 2 – 12 December, Crewe

To find out more about these courses please +44 (0)1276 697 777; visit; or send an email to

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SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. We are recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 90,000 employees, we operate a network of more than 2,000 offices and laboratories aroun...