ISO 45001:2018 – An Entirely New Standard (UPDATED 28 September 2021)

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Published on: October 30, 2019

The entirely new ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety (OHS, also referred to as WHS for Work Health and Safety) Management Systems Standard was published in March 2018. This Standard replaces OHSAS 18001:2007 and AS/NZS 4801:2001. It is aligned with ISO 9001:2015 (Quality Management), ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental Management), and the other latest ISO management standards.

The International Accreditation Forum (IAF) had previously confirmed that organisations will have the usual 3-year transition period to transfer their current management systems and certifications. However, this has been extended due to Covid-19, and below are the updated transition dates:

Many JAS-ANZ Accredited Conformity Assessment Bodies (Certification Bodies) are stating that organisations have to update from AS/NZS 4801:2001 (to ISO 45001:2018) by March 2021. However, this is not the case. Although we support this, due to ISO 45001:2018 being more about today’s health and safety management, for the time being, you can now stay with AS/NZS 4801 until 12 July 2023.

Your First Steps to Getting There

ISO 45001:2018 Standard Overview

Since March 2018, we have worked with the ISO 45001:2018 Standard and are now very familiar with its requirements. We have already assisted many client organisations to successfully achieve Certification to this new standard. We have summarised below some of the most notable changes for the upgrade from AS/NZS 4801:2001 and OHSAS 18001:2007, to the new ISO 45001:2018.

1. Update Company Policies

The first step to upgrade to ISO 45001:2018 is to review and update the company policies. The new Standard requires some additional commitments in your health and safety policy to ensure that the consultation process includes non-managerial workers and elimination of hazards reducing OHS risks (Clause 5.2). The Health & Safety Policy should be updated to include:

  • A commitment to providing safe and healthy working conditions for the prevention of work-related injury and ill health,
  • A commitment to eliminating hazards and reducing OHS risks, and
  • A commitment to consultation and participation of workers, and, where they exist, workers representatives.

Additionally, ISO 45001:2018 Consultation and Participation of Workers (Clause 5.4) has a number of new requirements to ensure this is an effective process.

Remember, consultation is about seeking workers’ views, and considering them, before making a decision.

Developing a Consultation Statement based on the requirements of clause 5.4 is a great way to address this requirement. The key point to include in this Statement is the inclusion of non-managerial workers in making decisions, for example in the following business management activities:

  • Business planning meetings;
  • Risk assessment meetings;
  • Incident investigation processes; and
  • Training evaluation processes.
Points to Consider
  • Review your OHS Policy with workers from all levels of the business;
  • Include nominated non-managerial workers in parts of management meetings to determine needs and expectations of interested parties;
  • Consult your workers on how they want to be consulted;zonsult your workers on how they want to be consulted;
  • Do any of your staff have understanding barriers? How will you overcome this?

The inclusion of non-managerial workers in making decisions can be achieved by:

  • Setting up a formal health and safety committee (for large organisations) that includes representatives from all levels of the business; or
  • Setting up a health and safety representative model (for smaller organisations).
2. Document Internal Communication

The second significant update in the ISO 45001:2018 Standard relates to communication (Clause 7.4). This clause states that organisations shall retain documented information as evidence of their communications.

The nature of external communication usually results in the evidence, such as meeting minutes, workshop records or emails.

However, proof of internal communication can often be overlooked as this can occur in many informal settings.

To fulfil the requirements of this clause, you will need to demonstrate that your workers have been included in the communication process and this might result in changes to some of your policies or processes, for example:

  • Introducing signage around the workplace;
  • Having managers meet with smaller team groups;
  • Removing communication barriers such as language issues;
  • Sending emails with voting buttons to enable workers to engage with the new information; and/or
  • Obtaining feedback – a great way to ensure understanding, demonstrate consultation and provide the records.
Points to Consider
  • When are your most effective days for all worker meetings?
  • Create one version of the truth that all workers can view.
  • How will you communicate to temporary workers and visitors?
  • What is the process if a worker doesn’t understand the information?
  • Take photos of large team meetings as a record.
3. Develop a Change Management Process

Although ISO 9001:2015 has a section (6.3) for the planning of changes and the need to consider their potential consequences, the new ISO 45001:2018 Management of Change (Clause 8.1.3) has a requirement to establish a process(es) to implement the desired change and to consider any potential new risks that might arise from the changes.

Establishing effective criteria for the potential effects of the changes and developing a new Change Management Process will help to ensure the overall success of the intended changes with minimal additional risks from the changes.

Implementation of this process is essential for product and service consistency during the change management process.

We advise developing a process that is applicable to the whole business (not only to the safety aspects).

The process should include who will be approving the steps and what the milestones will be to track the timeline of the changes.

Points to Consider
  • The scope of the change
  • The current state
  • What will improve?
  • Who are your stakeholders?
  • Training requirements
  • Competency evaluation
  • Resistance to change
  • Ongoing feedback and monitoring

Other New Requirements

We have described in the above sections three significant updates for your transition from AS/NZS 4801:2001 and/or OHSAS 18001:2007 to the new ISO 45001:2018. There are numerous other new requirements in the ISO 45001:2018 Standard, for example:

  • It is process-based (AS/NZS 4801:2001 & OHSAS18001:2007 are procedure based);
  • It requires an understanding of the organisation and its context;
  • It includes the needs and expectations of workers and other interested parties;
  • Considers risks and opportunities (AS/NZS 4801:2001 & OHSAS18001:2007 consider only risks);
  • Details the requirements of top management’s involvement in the OHS management system;
  • Has increased requirements on documented information; and
  • Includes requirements regarding procurement of products and services.
Call us now on 1300 614 897, email us, or book your online FREE strategy session if you need advice on how to achieve certification to the new ISO 45001:2018 Standard, or if you require assistance with your transition from AS/NZS 4801:2001 and/or OHSAS 18001:2007 to this new Standard.

About the author

Managing Director at ISO Certification Experts and ICExperts Academy

Erica is the Managing Director of ISO Certification Experts and ICExperts Academy. She has been helping businesses with their ISO Certification needs for over 20 years. Erica is also a Certified trainer, implementer and auditor for the ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001 and ISO 27001 standards. Erica primarily heads up the day-to-day operations of the businesses, and is also a current member of the Standards Australia Committees: QR-008 Quality Systems and ISO 9001 Quality Management Brand Integrity.

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