Making the transition to ISO 45001:2018

With the release of the new version of ISO 45001:2018, the big challenge seems to be: Transitioning from OHSAS 18001.

In comparison to its predecessor, the new ISO 45001:2018 standard is authored with critical concept and approach changes. Despite its complexities, transitioning to the new standard can be smooth if done in a chronological method.

Why transition?

It is imperative for existing OHSAS 18001-certified companies to upgrade their management systems to the new standard in order to receive the new certification. Also, when companies conform with the latest international standards, they command a better market position to enhance their growth and trade and are able to get ahead of the competition.

Additional incentives for the transitioning are the various enhancements brought on by the new standard. Moreover, this presents a great opportunity for better integration of the OH&SM system with other business activities.

As of now, companies have a period of up to two years to make this transition. Industry voices suggest that the three year period is feasible to complete all system assessments, adaptation procedures and tests, if needed.

The final deadline for the transition to take place is 11th March 2021.

How to transition?

For a smooth transition, the International Accreditation Forum has released a document IAD MD 21, which specifies methods for the transition.

The document recommends companies wanting to be certified to conduct a GAP-analysis, which can be done either by the appointed Certification Body (CB) or by the company itself. This would eventually result in a speedy assessment by the Certification Body.

Below is a prescribed method to facilitate the transition and achieve the new certification:

A) Company’s context: The context of the company acts as a baseline for the occupational hazard & safety management (OH&SM) system, hence it is a mandatory parameter.

B) Ensuring conformity with company strategy: It is critical for companies to align their strategies with the OH&SM system and also ensure that the defined goals conform with the system’s objectives.

Your OH&SM system must be compatible with the strategic direction of the company, and the objectives must aim in the same direction as other activities of the company.

Also, as part of the requirements in ISO 45001:2018, the company has to develop plans and strategies for achieving these objectives.

C) Specify all relevant stakeholders: An important parameter that needs to be carefully factored in, because it would augment the company’s efforts to channelize its strategic direction.

D) Propel leadership: For successful implementation of the system, the company leadership must be responsible for the OH&SM system by offering resources to team members and establishing protocols to meet the objectives.

E) Conduct OH&S hazard assessments: The transition process offers opportunities to companies to evaluate their occupational health and safety hazard systems and troubleshoot any challenges.

F) Periodical evaluation of performances: For any quality management system to be effective, periodical performance evaluations need to be carried out. Companies have to determine the baseline for the evaluation and the time frame for it to be carried out.

Upon successful completion of the performance evaluation, the new standard demands that companies must measure and report the performance evaluation.

G) Establish compliance obligations: Just like its predecessor, the new standard demands companies to fulfil statutory and regulatory requirements, along with expectations and needs of relevant stakeholders, which would be termed as compliance obligations.

H) Assessment of opportunities and risks: Opportunities and risks are two entities that propel companies to achieve their goals. When companies accurately identify these two entities they have to strategically address them, which would result in smooth process operations and growth.

I) Upgrading documentation systems: The transition process offers an opportunity to companies to upgrade their documentation systems, such as by going digital.

ISO 45001 audit prep

While preparing for an audit, companies must bear in mind that the Certification Body will assess the company’s compliance with the ISO 45001:2018 standard. During the transition phase, the CB will assess system implementation and documentation, and determine whether the audit must be conducted individually or jointly with a re-assessment audit for the OHSAS 18001. If it were to be jointly certified then the company would have to maintain its OHSAS 18001 certification till they transition the ISO 45001:2018.

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