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ISO 45001: The Path to Certification

February 1st, 2019

ISO 45001:  The Path to Certification

The adoption of the new ISO 45001 Standard for Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Management Systems provides opportunities for organizations to obtain ISO certification for OH&S management systems that may already be in place. The new standard, which follows the approach of other ISO management systems such as ISO 14001 (environmental management) and ISO 9001 (quality management), is a framework for use by any size facility in any industry interested in establishing, implementing, and maintaining an OH&S management system. The ISO 45001 standard replaces OHSAS 18001, the world’s former reference for OH&S management systems, and can more easily be integrated into existing ISO management systems that may be in place within the organization. The benefits of implementing an OH&S management system using ISO 45001 include proactively identifying, controlling, and decreasing OH&S risks; ensuring that a rigorous process is in place to protect employees; increasing employee motivation; demonstrating that OH&S is a priority within the organization; improving corporate image and credibility; and continually improving OH&S performance.

Although the ISO 45001 standard may be used simply as a tool for benchmarking, and certification is optional, there are some definite benefits to obtaining ISO 45001 certification. ISO 45001 certification is an internationally recognized stamp of approval that demonstrates that an organization has an externally validated, effective OH&S management system that conforms to the ISO 45001 standard. Certification may also be a requirement for certain contractual agreements with customers and suppliers. Certification is valid for three years, requiring annual audits to verify compliance with the standard as well as a reassessment audit for re-certification.

The process for obtaining ISO 45001 certification for an existing OH&S management system will depend on whether or not the OH&S management system is already certified under OHSAS 18001, as well as the structure, maturity, and effectiveness of the OH&S management system. Organizations currently certified under OHSAS 18001 have a three year period, until March 12, 2021, to migrate to ISO 45001 certification. OHSAS 18001-certified organizations should take the following steps to migrate to ISO 45001 certification:

  • Conduct a gap analysis to identify any deficiencies in the OHSAS 18001-certified OH&S management system that need to be addressed to meet the ISO 45001 requirements.
  • Develop an implementation plan for addressing deficiencies.
  • Update the existing OH&S management system to meet the new requirements.
  • Create awareness for all parties that have an impact on OH&S management system effectiveness, and meet any new competence needs.
  • Verify the updated OH&S management system’s effectiveness.
  • Make arrangements for migration to ISO 45001 certification with the organization’s certification body (i.e., registrar).

To migrate to ISO 45001 certification, the certification body will audit the organization for conformity to ISO 45001 either during a routine surveillance or re-certification audit that is already being done for compliance with OHSAS 18001, or as a special migration audit. After the migration audit, necessary corrective actions are made, reviewed, and verified, and a certification decision is made.

Organizations which do not have an OHSAS 18001-certified OH&S management system and wish to obtain ISO 45001 certification for an existing OH&S management system should take the following steps:

  • Conduct a gap analysis to identify any deficiencies in current OH&S management processes, procedures, and documentation that need to be addressed to meet the ISO 45001 requirements.
  • Implement the necessary process, procedure, and documentation changes.
  • Evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of the OH&S management system, and determine and implement any necessary corrective actions.
  • Identify a certification body to conduct a certification audit and issue the certification.

Dakota Software’s ISO 45000 module is a tool that can be used to conduct a gap analysis of an organization’s OH&S management system relative to ISO 45001, and provides a framework for planning and managing tasks to maintain the OH&S management system and improve OH&S performance. The module includes the full text of ISO 45001 as well as guidelines for the application of ISO 45001 developed by the British Standards Institute (BSI; BS 45002).

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