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What is ISO 45001:2018, and How Can it Benefit Your Business?

What is ISO 45001:2018, and How Can it Benefit Your Business?

Dec 19th 2022

What is ISO 45001:2018, and How Can it Benefit Your Business?

ISO 45001:2018 Standard is an Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) designed to promote a healthy working environment by providing a framework for identifying, controlling, and managing occupational health and safety risks and opportunities. In addition, it offers a chance to benchmark OHS practices against global best practices.

This standard is based on leadership-led approaches to ensure a safe workplace, focusing on continual improvement. It also shares common management principles with other standards, such as ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems and ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems.

To be certified to ISO 45001, an organisation must demonstrate that it has a robust Safety Management System that meets the standard's requirements. This can help the organisation reduce workplace accidents, improve worker well-being, and meet legal obligations related to occupational health and safety.

ISO 45001:2018 in Australia and New Zealand

In October 2018, Standards Australia transitioned away from the old Australian Standard of AS/NZS 4801:2001, Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems. This move demonstrated a commitment to industry-wide safety and health standards improvement.

The new ISO standard of AS/NZS ISO 45001:2018 was adopted with guidance for use, providing businesses with much-needed support during this transition period. Despite the phased-out nature of AS/NZS 4801:2001, it is still maintained as a source of reference for regulatory purposes, illustrating continued respect for its importance from the regulatory point of view.

By adopting the new standard, Standards Australia offers business owners assurance that their organisation is well-equipped with safe working conditions and environments designed to protect employees and customers.

Group of industrial workers in a refinery

Benefits of Implementing ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems Requirements

Implementing a management system based on ISO standards can have several beneficial outcomes for businesses in terms of operations and finances. From an operational standpoint, having a clear management system in place will help organisations identify potential hazards quickly and take appropriate action to minimise risk before accidents occur. This will result in fewer work-related injuries or illnesses among employees, leading to improved morale and reduced costs due to fewer lost workdays or medical expenses incurred from accidents.

From a financial perspective, implementing this standard may also result in lower insurance premiums due to the reduced likelihood of costly claims resulting from accidents or incidents occurring in the workplace. Additionally, a robust health and safety program may open access to grants or other funding opportunities from government agencies or nonprofit organisations looking to support businesses prioritising worker safety over profits.

Lastly, adhering to these standards can improve your company's public image as customers tend to gravitate towards brands that demonstrate commitment to employee well-being through maintaining safety standards.

Leadership-led Approach

One of the fundamental principles of ISO 45001 is a leadership-led approach, which emphasises the role of top management in driving the organisation's efforts to improve health and safety performance.

The leadership-led approach of ISO 45001 means that top management must take an active role in setting the organisation's health and safety goals and establishing policies and procedures for managing OHS risk. An organisation can do this by providing the necessary resources and support as well as setting an example for others to follow.

ISO 45001 also requires top management to engage with employees and other interested parties to ensure that their concerns and needs are considered in developing and implementing the organisation's health and safety management system. This can help create a positive health and safety culture within the organisation, where employees are encouraged to speak up and raise concerns, and their contributions are valued and respected.

Overall, the leadership-led approach of ISO 45001 is an important part of the standard because it recognises that top management must play a key role in driving the organisation's efforts to improve health and safety performance. By taking an active and engaged approach to your OHS management system, top management can help create safe and healthy workplaces for employees and improve the organisation's compliance and reputation.

Common Principles with Other Standards

Similar to other well-known standards such as ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems or ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems, ISO 45001 shares the same high-level structure such as Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA), which focus on continual improvement through structured processes that cover all areas associated with OHS management system operations including:

  1. Process-based approach: All three standards are based on a process-based approach, which means that they focus on the processes and activities that an organisation uses in managing OHS risks. This approach helps organisations to understand how their operations and activities are interrelated and how they can be improved to achieve better results.
  2. Continual improvement: All three standards emphasise the importance of continual improvement, which means that organisations must regularly review and update their management systems in order to improve their OHS performance and achieve their goals. This can be done through regular internal audits and by tracking and analysing data on key performance indicators.
  3. Risk-based thinking: All three standards require organisations to consider the risks and opportunities associated with their operations and take appropriate action to manage and seize those risks. This helps organisations to identify and address potential problems before they occur and to take advantage of opportunities to improve their performance and reduce work-related accidents.
  4. Engagement of people: All three standards recognise the importance of engaging with employees and other stakeholders in developing and implementing the management system. This can help to ensure that the organisation's goals and objectives are understood and supported by all relevant parties and that the management system is effective and sustainable.

PDCA Cycle | SafetyDocs by SafetyCulture

Addressing legal requirements

One of the key principles of ISO Management System Standards is the requirement for organisations to identify and evaluate the legal and other requirements that apply to their OHSMS. This involves identifying the relevant laws, regulations, and other standards that apply to the organisation and its operations and determining how they relate to the organisation's safety guidelines.

The organisation must then ensure that its OHSMS is aligned with these requirements and has processes in place to monitor and update the OHSMS as necessary to maintain compliance.

In addition, the international standard requires organisations to have processes to respond to applicable legal and other requirements changes. This means that the organisation must have a system to monitor changes to relevant laws and regulations and update its OHSMS as necessary to remain compliant with safety legislation.

Overall, the requirements of ISO 45001 provide a framework for organisations to identify, understand, and comply with their legal obligations related to occupational health and safety. By implementing the standard, organisations can ensure that their OHS management system is aligned with applicable laws and regulations and that they are taking appropriate steps to protect their workers' and other stakeholders' health and safety.

Certification bodies

A certification body is an organisation that is accredited to assess and certify organisations that are implementing ISO 45001. Certification bodies are independent organisations that are recognised by accreditation bodies as having the expertise and capability to assess organisations against the requirements of ISO 45001.

When a company is trying to implement ISO 45001, it can choose to work with a certification body to assess its readiness for certification. The certification body will audit the company's OHSMS to determine whether it meets the standard's requirements. If the OHSMS is found to be in compliance with ISO 45001, the certification body will issue a certificate of conformity to the company.

The certification process typically involves several stages, including an initial assessment, a pre-certification audit, and a final certification audit. The certification body will work closely with the company throughout the process to provide guidance and support, and to ensure that the company's OHSMS is compliant with ISO 45001.

Auditing AS/NZS ISO 45001

To ensure compliance with the requirements outlined within ISO 45001:2018, organisations normally conduct annual Surveillance Audits that regularly assess their safety system performance against internal and external criteria. This process should aim to identify non-conformances or opportunities for improvement within their OHSMS and evaluate its effectiveness against legal requirements and industry best practices.

Additionally, organisations should have an effective system for recording findings from these audits so that any issues can be quickly resolved before they become serious problems impacting worker safety or health outcomes.

The benefits of an auditing program for ISO 45001 management systems include the following:

  1. Improved workplace safety: Annual Auditing helps organisations identify and address potential safety hazards in the workplace, which can reduce the risk of employee accidents and injuries by improving worker participation.
  2. Enhanced compliance: Auditing can help organisations meet all relevant legal and regulatory requirements for workplace safety, which can help prevent fines and other penalties for non-compliance.
  3. Increased efficiency: By identifying and addressing potential problems and inefficiencies in the management system, auditing can help organisations streamline their processes and improve their overall efficiency.
  4. Better decision-making: Auditing provides organisations with valuable data and insights into the performance of their management system, which can help them make more informed decisions about how to improve their operations and achieve their goals.
  5. Enhanced reputation: Organisations certified as compliant with ISO 45001 can improve their reputation with customers, regulators, and other stakeholders, which can help them attract new business and build trust in their brand.

What is the difference between a standard like AS/NZS ISO 45001:2018 and a Safety Management System?

ISO 45001 is an international standard for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS), while a Safety Management System (SMS) is a set of policies, procedures, and practices that an organisation uses to manage and control safety-related risks and hazards.

In other words, the ISO standard provides a framework for organisations in any industry sectors to develop and implement an OHSMS, while the safety management system is the actual system that an organisation puts in place to manage and control safety risks.

While ISO 45001 and a safety management system are closely related, they serve different purposes. ISO 45001 provides the framework for developing and implementing a world-class safety management system, while the safety management system is the actual system that an organisation uses to manage and control safety risks. Both are important for ensuring the safety and well-being of workers and other stakeholders.

How do I develop my Safety Management System?

AS/NZS ISO 45001:2018, as a safety standard, outlines five key steps for creating a safe and healthy work environment. By following these steps, businesses can reduce workplace risks, demonstrate their duty of care towards employees' safety and well-being, and ensure their business remains compliant with relevant laws and regulations. Let's take a closer look at these five steps and what they entail.

Step 1: Risk Assessment & Hazard Identification

The first step in creating a safe working environment is identifying potential risks or hazards that could affect your business operations. This includes assessing any physical hazards, like machinery or tools, and psychological risks, such as stress or workloads. Once identified, you should then be able to develop strategies for mitigating them to reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring in the workplace.

Step 2: Implementation & Control of Risks

Once you have identified potential risks and hazards in the workplace, you must implement measures that will help prevent them from occurring again in the future. This could include implementing new safety procedures or providing additional training for employees on how they should be handling certain tasks to reduce any potential risks and maintain safe a healthy workplaces.

Step 3: Monitoring Effectiveness

For your risk management process to be effective, you must regularly monitor the effectiveness of your implemented strategies, both internal and external issues. This can be done through regular audits, which will help identify areas where additional control measures may need to be taken for your business operations to remain safe and compliant with applicable regulations.

Step 4: Planning & Implementing

Once you have identified potential risks and developed strategies for mitigating them, it's important that you plan out how these strategies will be implemented into your daily business operations. This includes ensuring all employees and interested parties are aware of the new safety procedures and training on performing certain tasks safely.

Step 5: Continual Improvement

Finally, once all safety procedures have been put into place, there must be a continual performance evaluation by senior management and improved upon as needed to ensure they remain up-to-date with current regulations and industry standards. Regularly evaluating your risk management process can meet intended outcomes, particularly where additional control measures may need to be taken in order for your business operations to remain safe and compliant with applicable regulations.

Let SafetyDocs help you

Overall, implementing a management system based on ISO 45001 can provide numerous benefits for businesses looking to improve their operations while also strengthening their bottom line. From reducing workplace risks through effective risk management strategies to improving customer satisfaction ratings through enhanced brand reputation—the advantages are plentiful!

For businesses looking to stay compliant with the highest quality health and safety standards, SafetyDocs' Management Systems provide all the requirements needed to meet AS/NZS ISO 45001. Our systems strive to increase communication between employers and employees while being easy to use and implement in any organisation.

With SafetyDocs on your side, regardless of company size, you'll have everything you need to maintain the best possible occupational safety standard on all your premises. Let us help take the guesswork out of safety compliance so you can get back to what's important – running a safe and successful business.

To find out more about how your organisation can become certified to AS/NZS ISO 45001:2018, check out our range of management systems.


Author - Craig Cruickshank is the HSEQ Manager and Senior Technical Advisor at SafetyDocs by SafetyCulture.

Craig comes from a construction and environmental background, with experience in both the private and public sectors and is passionate about making health and safety information easy to find and understand for everyone.

Learn more about Craig's work on LinkedIn


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Please note that the above information is provided as a comment only and should not be relied on as professional, legal or financial advice.

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