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Use the ISO 45001 standard to drive safe and healthy workplaces, prevent work-related injury and ill health, and continually improve OH&S performance.

ISO 45001

ISO 45001 is rapidly becoming one of the most recognised international standards for Occupational Health and Safety. The Standard provides a framework for organisations to identify relevant risks and opportunities for occupational health issues, or safety hazards and ensure that they are managed with full engagement of the workforce.

Onsite Consultancy

Our onsite ISO Consultancy services provide you with the tailored support you need to achieve your goals for ISO Certification. Benefit from our insights to build an Occupational Health and Safety management system that delivers the outcomes you need. We bring clarity to ISO 45001 so that you develop your existing good practices into a highly effective OHS management system.

What is the ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety management standard?

ISO 45001 is the internationally recognised standard for Occupational Health and Safety management (OHS). The purpose of the Occupational Health and Safety management system is to enable organisations to:

The need for an international, concerted and effective approach to OHS management has never been great. According to figures published in 2016 by the International Labour Organisation, annually there are:

Managing Occupational Health and Safety

ISO 45001 is written as a generic standard and provides a management framework for an organisation to manage and improve Occupational Health and Safety performance. Critically, ISO 45001 focuses the attention of the organisation on eliminating hazards and adopting the Hierarchy of Controls to put the most effective management practices in place to deal with risk.

Whilst many organisations will manage some areas of OHS risk, the level of governance provided by an ISO 45001 OHS management system will lead to systemic and organised improvement on OHS performance over time. As a result, worker health and safety will become a key focus from the point of recruitment and induction, to the time they leave the organisation.

ISO 45001 supersedes the OHSAS 18001 standard and puts a great deal more emphasis on leadership and senior management commitment to creating a health and safety culture and providing a safe and healthy workplace. The standard also requires control of contractors, who can represent a significant risk but can be overlooked.

Critically, the standard also has a focus on worker engagement. In many organisations, the balance of decision-making sits with a small management team and workers are not empowered to take control of their actions. ISO 45001 requires that every worker takes control of their actions and acts in such a way that protects themselves and their co-workers, including contractors, temporary staff and visitors.

Interaction with other systems (e.g. environmental management)

Disciplines within Occupational Health and Safety management will overlap with those from other standards.

Procedures and instructions written for OHS management, such as Safe Systems of Work (SSOW) can be written in conjunction with quality (ISO 9001) procedures to provide workers with a complete set of instruction or guidance on how to carry out tasks safely.

Within ISO 14001, an organisation is required to understand its significant environmental aspects and set out to manage them. OHS management will interact with these areas (e.g. managing environmental noise, or chemical handling), so control procedures can be combined.

In addition, ISO 45001 requirements will support an organisation planning for business continuity, in that the aspects of risk arising from significant disruptive events can be prepared for and actions put in place to manage them if they arise. Occupational Health and Safety planning can also be applied to the actions that take place during recovery; for example, assessing the risk of new premises or temporary working arrangements, clean-up, reconstruction and finally transition back to the normal working condition.


Occupational Health and Safety management, as all the ISO management systems, has adopted the PDCA cycle as the basis of continual improvement. Organisations don’t have to be perfect in order to have an effective Occupational Health and Safety management system, but the expectation of the ISO standard is that you can demonstrate the journey your organisation is taking. Over time, your capabilities and effectiveness will improve if you critique your Occupational Health and Safety performance in order to improve.

In following the plan-do-check-act process, the management team will begin to improve their planning processes and develop their skills of critical assessment in regard of Occupational Health and Safety management. Part of this improvement will be to crystallise Occupational Health and Safety management objectives at a strategic and an operational level.

The Plan-Do-Check-Act process is a critical element of the management system, and each time the cycle is followed through, the capabilities of the team will get better. Tangible improvement arising will include:

Applying these skills to your organisation will enhance your Occupational Health and Safety management performance and improve your brand reputation and skills.

Benefits of ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety management

There are multiple benefits to applying the ISO 45001 OHS management standard to your organisational systems. The process of identifying and eliminating risks will improve the working conditions, improve the relationship with workers, and enhance your workers’ capabilities.

As a result, returns on investment will increase as less time is lost to accidents and incidents, staff health and welfare will improve productivity, and there are potential direct financial savings with possible improved premiums for safety insurance.

ISO 45001, as with other ISO standards, has resulted in improved performance with users. The table below sets out some examples of benefits against each principle:

Process Approach
  • Implementing OHS management and the Hierarchy of Controls will influence and improve the quality of processes for all aspects of the organisation.
  • Improvement in worker participation
  • Gain competitive edge as competitors see you as a safe pair of hands
  • International recognition
  • Improved leadership disciplines
Customer Focus
  • Organisations that implement OHS management systems focus on providing reassurance for their customers, workers and other interested parties
  • Customer focus and improved satisfaction leads to increased revenues because market advantage is gained, and disruptions are minimised
Continuous Improvement
  • Continuous improvement of processes leads to reduction in downtime
  • Continuous improvements can be gained across the organisation, such as effective internal operations, better engagement with staff, reduced waste and more profit
Engagement with People
Relationship management
  • Benefits are gained with respect to worker and contractor relationships as they become more empowered to make decisions
  • Improved relationships with authorities and other interested parties
Evidence based decision making
  • Decisions being more robust and focused on issues using the Hierarchy of Controls
  • Actions resulting from decisions made using the Hierarchy of Controls are more effective
  • Clear decision-making processes are embedded which all workers and interested parties can understand

How do I get ISO 45001?

Many companies ask what they need to do to ‘get’ ISO 45001. The answer is to apply the requirements of the ISO 45001 Standard to their management systems. In many cases, a successful business will meet the requirements because they are successful.

Getting ISO 45001 is then a process of being certified. UKAS accredited Certification Bodies are the organisations will carry out a series of audits of the Occupational Health and Safety management system against the ISO Standard. As a result of the audit (if the Occupational Health and Safety system meets the Standard) the Organisation is then awarded an ISO 45001 Certificate.

How long does it take to get an ISO 45001 certificate?

The process of developing an Occupational Health and Safety management system that meets the ISO 45001 standard can take anywhere from 3 to 12 months depending on the level of maturity of the organisation. In some cases, it is simply a case of introducing some new governance processes or developing documentation, whereas in others, an organisation will need to start from scratch.

The first phase of the ISO 45001 audit process is a ‘Stage 1’ Audit, which will look at the readiness of the system, and check against the required documentation. The benefit of the Stage 1 audit is that the organisation can test out its ideas or identify gaps without risking failing. The audit will result in a report that defines the amount of work needed to be complete before the Stage 2 audit is completed.

Usually, there is a gap between the Stage 1 and Stage 2 audits of 4 weeks to 6 months, which allows the organisation to gather more data and increase its capabilities.

What does ISO 45001 cost?

Like any product or service that an organisation buys, it is important to shop around Certification Bodies and ensure that you get a level of service you want, at a price that is acceptable.

The UKAS accredited Certification Bodies are subjected to quality standards themselves and UKAS acts as Ombudsmen, which gives you assurance that any issues will be resolved appropriately.

Typically, direct audit costs are charged on a day-rate basis and the number of days will vary according to the size of the business. Companies up to 50 people can expect initial certification costs of approximately £5k, and ongoing costs of up to 2-3k per annum.

Spedan Ltd are Associate Consultants to the major ISO Certification Bodies and can help clarify your costs before you commit to one supplier.

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