ISO 45001 and OHSAS 18001: Where does the shoe pinch?

Based on our OHSAS 18001 audits performed from January 2016 to October 2017, we have made a short analysis to understand where the shoe pinches and provide guidance. Here are some key points to address when working with ISO 45001.

Based on the audit data from OHSAS 18001 audits during these 22 months, we have used our performance benchmarking tool, LuminaTM, to understand in which areas companies should be aware when working on the ISO 45001 migration. 

Advantages of a new standard 

OHSAS 18001 has for many years been the internationally acknowledged voluntary Management System standard for Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S). It is used by thousands of organisations in more than 130 countries.  ISO 45001 uses the High Level Structure (HLS), which ensures enhanced compatibility with other ISO management system standards. It will replace OHSAS 18001, which will be withdrawn. A period of 3 years has been agreed among relevant stakeholders for migrating the current OHSAS certificates. ISO’s decision to develop an OH&S management system standard is welcomed as it will further increase the international acknowledgement and global adoption of the standard. In addition, it ensures consistency and broader stakeholder involvement in the revision process.

Organizations will need to prepare and adapt to the new and revised requirements before successfully migrating from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001. As input to this preparation, we have analysed statistics from our accounts, using Lumina, to find areas where the shoe is pinching. We found that Operational control, risk assessment and legal requirements are among the areas with most severe findings, while emergency preparedness is also high on the list. 

Classification of findings

The statistics are based on audit findings. For the purpose of this analysis, we differ between “all findings” (table 1) and “severe findings” (table 2). Severe findings include what we in audit terms call major and minor non-conformities, while “all findings” also include observations and opportunities for improvement. The below defines the categories of findings:

  • Major non-conformity: A non-conformity that affects the capability of the management system to achieve the intended results.
  • Minor non-conformity: A non-conformity that does not affect the capability of the management system to achieve the intended results.
  • Observation: An observation is not a non-conformity, but something that could lead to a nonconformity, if allowed to continue uncorrected; or an existing condition without adequate supporting evidence to verify that it constitutes a nonconformity.
  • Opportunity for improvement: An area and/or process of the organization which may meet the minimum requirement of the standard, but which could be improved.

Most severe findings are related to Operational control

Almost 70% of companies had findings related to operational control (Table 1). More than 40% had severe findings (Table 2). Operational control is critical to ensure the well-being of workers, and a crucial part also of ISO 45001. ISO 45001 chapter 8 sets the requirements related to operational control and planning, and covers various control measures required to ensure the management system achieves the intended outcomes. The chapter also covers controls related to procurement, which also include contractors and outsourced processes.

Hazard identification, risk assessment and determining controls

The 2nd most frequent findings were related to hazard identification, risk assessment and determining controls. More than 56% had findings in this area (Table 1), and almost 30% had severe findings (Table 2). This indicates that many companies need better processes for identifying, assessing and mitigating risk. The focus on risk is further enhanced in ISO 45001, so companies must have this area high on the agenda going forward.
In ISO 45001, the relevant clauses for this area is found in chapter 6.1. In addition to already existing requirements, the ISO High Level Structure (HLS) introduces focus on opportunities, and not only on hazards and risks.

Emergency preparedness and response

Emergency preparedness and response is ranked #3 in total number of findings (Table 1), and #4 in severe findings (Table 2). 45 % had findings, while 16.9% had severe findings in this area. The ability to prevent and be prepared for incidents and accidents prevail in ISO 45001.

About the statistics

Using our performance benchmarking tool, Lumina, we analysed the audit data of DNV GL customers worldwide with an OHSAS 18001 certified Occupational Health and Safety management system, audited from January 2016 to October 2017.

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