• ISO55001 Asset Management
    System (AMS)
  • ISO9001 Quality Management
    Systems (QMS)
  • ISO14001 Environmental Management
    Systems (EMS)
  • ISO50001 Energy Management
    Systems (EnMS)
  • ISO45001 Health & Safety Management
    Systems (OHASMS)
  • ISO27001 Information security
    management systems (ISMS)

Migrating from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001

30 Nov 2020

In March 2018, the world’s first global occupational health and safety standard, ISO 45001, was published. The new standard replaces OHSAS 18001 and other country-specific health and safety standards. Businesses that are currently certified to OHSAS 18001 have until 11th March 2021 to transition to the new standard.

How is ISO 45001 different from OHSAS 18001?

Originally based on OHSAS 18001, ISO 45001 takes into account the International Labour Organization’s ILO-OSH Guidelines, various national standards and the ILO’s international labour standards and conventions. It is designed to eliminate confusion and make it easier for businesses to meet their legal and moral obligations on a local and global scale. Essentially, ISO45001 is a refinement of a framework that’s designed to create better, safer working conditions for everybody, everywhere.

There are many similarities between OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001, but here are the key differences:

The needs of interested parties

ISO 45001 requires businesses to establish the needs of interested parties (legislative bodies, customers, the public, etc.) and whether they are relevant to the company’s occupational health and safety responsibilities. If so, those expectations and needs must be identified and met.

Greater input from employees

The standard requires workers to take an active role in the development, planning, implementation and continual improvement of occupational health and safety. Senior managers are expected to be accountable for occupational health and safety, demonstrating its effectiveness and integration into the organisation’s business strategy.


There are some terms and words in ISO 45001 that don’t feature in the current system. The idea is to improve clarity, understanding and consistency.

Performance indicators

Performance indicators are used to continually track improvements throughout the occupational health and safety management system.


There’s reduced bureaucracy. ‘Documented information’ can include information held on smartphones, tablets and the cloud and recognition of self certification or non UKAS certifictaion.

Continual improvement

The business’s occupational health and safety policy must demonstrate continual commitment to improvement and employee participation.

Is ISO 45001 right for my business?

If your organisation has people working on its behalf or who may be affected by its activities, then the answer is ‘yes’. Organisations of any size and in any industry will benefit from the system. It will help you to keep your workers safe and to meet legal obligations. Moreover, as the standard is recognised globally, your customers and stakeholders will understand that your business behaves responsibly by maintaining an occupational health and safety management system.

You can find out more about how the standard can support your business in our article, The Benefits of ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management System.

How easy will it be to migrate from OHSAS 18001?

Most aspects of the ISO 45001 occupational health and safety management system will be familiar to you as an OHSAS 18001 user. Its requirements are consistent, allowing ease of integration into your organisation’s management processes.

OHSAS 18001 will be withdrawn three years after the publication of ISO 45001. This means you only have a limited time left before transition time to understand, communicate and implement changes in order to move your business to the new standard. During this period, you must still comply with OHSAS 18001 requirements.

Making a smooth transition

NDC’s lead auditors can help you to transition to the new standard with minimal disruption.

We can support you to:

  • Perform a gap analysis against your current OHSAS 18001 system.
  • Develop an implementation plan.
  • Train your team to manage the migration effectively and understand the requirements of the new standard.
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