What is ISO 45001?

What is ISO 45001?

So, what exactly is ISO 45001? ISO 45001 is the international standard for the promotion of Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S). The ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) is meant to provide standards through which organisations can protect both physical and mental health, and aid in the prevention and reduction of workplace injuries and diseases.

Why Would You Need It?

Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems are an essential element of any legitimate organisation operating under normal standards anywhere in the world, regardless of the industry, size and other characteristics.

Who is the ISO 45001 Standard Meant for?

According to the International Labour Organisation, over 7,500 workers die from diseases or work-related incidents every day. While there have been workplace safety standards put in to address safety and health issues on a national or regional basis, ISO 45001 is a concerted attempt to cover all the bases as far as OH&S is concerned.

ISO 45001 can be applied to organisations of all sizes, sectors and industries, regardless of where they are located or other distinguishing characteristics. Workplace safety is one of the primary matters that businesses are globally asked to adhere by – the ISO 45001 standard is meant to both protect the workers as well as the business owners from occurrences that jeopardize safety and cause untoward incidents.

The ISO 45001:2018 standard is constructed along the same principles as the ISO 9001 or the ISO 14000 series of standards, which make it easier for organisations to follow along with it.

According to the deployment plan, the OHSAS 18001 expired earlier this year (March of 2021) and organisations were supposed to have migrated to the ISO 45001 standard by that point.

Benefits of ISO 45001

As mentioned above, worker health and safety protocols are an essential part of any company operating in any jurisdiction of the world.

Companies certified in ISO 45001 reap a number of benefits, including but not limited to:

  • Comply with international, national and local regulations on worker safety.
  • Reduce operational risk while maintaining efficiency – effectively, adhering to OHSMS standards signifies that the company is not “cutting corners” in a manner that endangers its workforce.
  • Protect the organisation against the possibility of costly legal actions and settlements in the event of an untoward incident.
  • Help win contracts, especially those designated for organisations with the proper licensing and safety standards.
  • Help attract customers and form business partnerships.
  • Be able to participate in RFPs and RFQs where an ISO 45001 certification may be required.
  • Increase stakeholder and key investor confidence.

Overall, companies that use the ISO 45001 standard will be able to expand their business more readily, given that their workers, leadership, key stakeholders and investors are likely to be confident that there will be a very low chance of business interruptions due to health and safety violations or unsafe work conditions that result in costly accidents.

ISO 45001, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001

There are many common requirements between ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 standards. Companies may combine implementations of these standards, especially since (as explained above) the three standards all adhere to the ISO’s new organisational structure.

ISO 9001 is a Quality Management Standard (QMS) which helps companies deliver consistent quality while meeting customer objectives. ISO 14001 is an Environmental Management Standard (EMS) which is broadly adhered to on a global basis.

The three standards share a PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) structure that would allow companies to evaluate and deploy them simultaneously.

How Can Companies Get Certified?

Companies seeking certification have to go to an accredited third-party auditor to get certified. It is important to note that organisations may choose to adhere to the standards without getting certified. However, as mentioned above, certification does open up more doors and provide concrete benefits.

In order to get certified, the following steps are necessary:

  • The company must develop and implement an ISO 45001 management system.
  • They must appoint an accredited third party to audit the system, so they can review the processes and implementation of the standard and certify compliance.
  • If gaps are identified, the company should address them.

Upon the completion of these steps, an ISO 45001 certificate will be issued.

One thing to be cautious of is non-accredited certification bodies claiming to be accredited. Check out this article to learn the difference between accredited and non-accredited certification and how costly it can be to get it wrong.

Origins of the ISO 45001 Standard

The ISO 45001 standard was published in March 2018 by the International Standards Organisation (ISO). The initiative for publishing the standard was developed based on previous standards such as the OHSAS 18001 and the International Labour Organisation’s ILO-OSH guidelines, alongside various national and regional standards that have been created to protect laborers from workplace injuries and safety violations.

The ISO 45001:2018 standard is part of a number of standards introduced by the ISO to cover the Environmental, Energy, Health & Safety, and Quality (EEHSQ) standards for organisations. The full family includes the following standards:

Basis of Evaluation

ISO 45001:2018 covers all the aspects that were part of the OHSAS 18001 standard, with a few important amendments. The main aspect is that the standard now adheres to the ISO’s new organisational structure, which all ISO based management systems (e.g. ISO 9001, 14001 etc.) fall under. A Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) model is instilled into the ISO 45001 structure as part of this new structure.  

In particular, the ISO 45001:2018 standard helps organisations promote safety, security and health through engagement with all stakeholders.

The changes introduced as part of the ISO 45001 standard include:

  • Context of the organisation
  • Leadership and worker participation
  • Planning
  • Support
  • Operation
  • Performance Evaluation
  • Improvement

The Final Word…

The ISO 45001 standard is now the standard that companies must adhere to from an OHSMS standpoint. The grace period allowed to migrate from the OHSAS 18001 standards has expired, which means that the new standards are now fully in vogue.

The many benefits to be derived from enhanced worker health and safety extend beyond cosmetic changes. In conjunction with other critical standards such as ISO 9001 and 14001, the ISO 45001:2018 standard foretell that a company is fully equipped to conduct its business with full corporate and human responsibility in the modern world. 

Hopefully we have answered your question on what is ISO 45001. If there is anything you’re still unsure of, check out our other resources or drop us an email. We’re more than happy to help.


Do you want us to take care of your fire compliance? H&S compliance? ISO certification? training? human resources?

At RKMS we are determined to make a business run as efficiently as possible. Will that next business be yours?

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Do you want us to take care of your fire compliance? H&S compliance? ISO certification? training? human resources?

At RKMS we are determined to make a business run as efficiently as possible. Will that next business be yours?

John Keen
Apart from work John enjoys sports (football, karate & walking) as well as travel & spending time with friends & grandchildren.

Do you want us to take care of your fire compliance? H&S compliance? ISO certification? training? human resources?

At RKMS we are determined to make a business run as efficiently as possible. Will that next business be yours?