A first Glance at ISO 45001, the OHSAS 18001 Successor: Changes & Timeline

Dr. Thijs Willaert Revisions 2 Comments


ISO 45001, the international standard that replaces BS OHSAS 18001, has been approved for publication. The standard sets requirements for occupational health and safety management systems and was published in March 2018. In order to assist organizations that wish to be certified with the transition from BS OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001, DQS will inform you of the latest developments on a regular basis.

What changes can we expect between BS OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001?

The aim of the standard remains the same: to set requirements for OH&S management systems, and thus to help organizations ensure the health and safety of the people who work for them.

While ISO 45001 largely stands in continuity with BS OHSAS 18001, there are a couple of changes worth noting:

  • The standard has the same High Level Structure (HLS) as ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015, and will share the same terminology. This will make it easier to integrate OH&S management into the overall management system.
  • The standard follows the normal Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) model, which provides a framework for organizations to minimize the risk of harm. Although this focus on risk is not new, the emphasis in ISO 45001 on a risk-based approach places the standard more in line of ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015, which also take risk as their starting point.

ISO 45001 BS OHSAS 18001 Changes

  • Minimizing the risk of harm also requires taking into account any concerns that can lead to long-term health issues and absence from work. This may include psychosocial factors like stress, which can be managed within the OH&S framework.
  • The fact that the standard follows the same structure as ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 implies a stronger focus on the context of organizations. Organizations are required to understand the needs and expectations of interested parties (commonly known as stakeholders), and to take into account all internal and external issues that may affect the ability of the organization to meet its OH&S objectives.
  • The notion of context requires organizations to look beyond health and safety within their own facilities and to take into account working conditions that are not under its direct control. This reflects on the work with subcontractors and suppliers. Supply and procurement policies should address impacts on any persons that carry out activities for the organization, or produce products or deliver services for it.
  • Another change is the stronger role for top management. Health and safety becomes a central aspect of the overall management system, requiring a firm commitment from top management. At the same time, it will be necessary to involve all employees in reaching OH&S objectives.
  • Stronger requirement to address legal and regulatory compliance issues in the entire management system, throughout all phases of the PDCA-cycle.

ISO 45001 does not define specific KPIs for health and safety, but rather requires continuous improvement in the KPIs an organization has set.


There will be a 3-year transition period for all certified sites, with BS OHSAS 18001 being formally withdrawn on March 12, 2021.

How will this affect existing certificates?

All certificates against BS OHSAS 18001 will expire on March 12, 2021 at the latest. Certified sites will need to transition to the ISO 45001:2018 during this time. During this transition period, new certificates for BS OHSAS 18001 can still be issued; however, irrespective of when the audit was conducted, the certificates will also expire on March 12, 2021.

How does this affect the audit planing?

We will be assisting our customers to ensure a smooth transition and bridge the gap between the two standards.  Transitioning from BS OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001 is possible at two moments in the certification cycle:

  • Transition during the recertification audit: the audit will include a “readiness review” to evaluate the changes, status and understanding of the revised standard before the system audit takes place. This is the recommended way.
  • Transition during a surveillance audit: additional time will need to be added to the surveillance audit.

If you would like to begin preparing for the transfer process for ISO 45001, please contact us directly.

How can you prepare for the transfer?
  • DQS offers gap assessments to verify the conformity status against the new standard. These can be scheduled independently or combined with other system audits.
  • Training Workshops will be available through our international DQS offices. Click here to find your local DQS office and get in touch about upcoming workshops.
  • In-House Workshops are available upon request.

Contact us if you have any questions about the transition, or follow us on LinkedIn to receive regular updates on certification and standards.

Dr. Thijs Willaert Administrator
Dr. Thijs Willaert is Director of Marketing & Communication at DQS CFS GmbH
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Dr. Thijs Willaert Administrator
Dr. Thijs Willaert is Director of Marketing & Communication at DQS CFS GmbH
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Comments 2

  1. Post

    Dear Steve,

    thank you for your questions. As far as your first question is concerned: yes, it is definitely confirmed that ISO 45001 will “replace” BS OHSAS 18001.

    As to your second question: given that the final versions of the revised ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards are expected in Autumn this year, we would recommend working with these – the drafts are available and should there be any changes between the drafts and the final versions, these will be minimal.

    As far as ISO 45001 is concerned, the picture is slightly different. We would not recommend working with a draft yet, as it is still in the early stages. The final version is not to be expected before the end of 2016.

    Given the complexity of the task you are facing, I would highly recommend to have a more extensive chat with one of our people. Assuming you are based in the UK, I’ll be happy to pass you contact details of our local office. Just write me an e-mail at thijs.willaert@dqs.de.


  2. I have recently been offered a position where my initial role would be to introduce 9001, 14001 and 18001 into a service company that has neither.

    My question is in several parts, namely:

    Is it now confirmed that OHSAS 18001 will become ISO 45001?
    If so would it still be recommended to go for 18001 and change as required?
    As all systems are to be updated this year, can I still use the last revisions (2008) until these become available?
    When will the updates be available?
    Can I apply for registration using the last revisions?

    Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you

    Steve Fricker

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