Occupational health & safety management fit into your organization

Many modern organizations rightly value employee safety and well-being. Generally, this is reflected in the establishment and operation of an OH&SMS (Occupational Health and Safety Management System), often certified to OHSAS 18001. Along with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 standard is one of the most commonly applied business standards across all modern business sectors. So, given that OHSAS 18001 and OH&S (Occupational Health and safety) are so critical to so many businesses, where do they fit within your organization?

OHSAS 18001 – Why do organizations comply?

There are so many good reasons why organizations comply with OHSAS 18001 certification, some of the main business reasons can broadly be explained as follows:

Compliance with regulations: Many organizations cannot offer for contracts without providing evidence of due diligence in terms of health and safety, and there is no more effective way of proving this by demonstrating that you have an OHSAS 18001-certified OH&SMS. Likewise, in many sectors, heavy fines can be applied to organizations that have accidents and cannot prove certification to a standard such as OHSAS 18001. This happened recently, with the Health and Safety Executive in the United Kingdom applying financial penalties to organizations whose bad practices have led to fatal accidents, and whose compliance with OHSAS 18001 has proved to be false.

Customer and stakeholder pressure: When your organization is contracted by a larger company, it is normal that the large company has criteria that need to be met, and it is likely that OHSAS 18001 compliance or certification is one, while many multinational corporations have their own internal OH&S systems. It is also common for stakeholders or potential investors to insist on formal certifications before making a financial commitment to a company.

Staff well-being and related financial benefits: Good OH&S performance normally brings multiple advantages to your day-to-day business: higher morale, lower staff turnover (which means lower hiring and re-training costs), and the financial benefits that OHSAS 18001 process improvements can bring.

So, given that these are the most common reasons that many companies seek OHSAS 18001 certification, where does OH&S management fit within your organization?

OH&S management: Where does it fit?

Approach for OH&S can differ greatly from one organization to another, mainly depending on what sector the organization in question operates in. As such, how this topic fits into the day-to-day activities of your organization, and where it ranks in terms of importance, can be assessed by the following elements:

What is your accident record?

Ultimately, the effectiveness of your OH&SMS can best be measured by the accidents or incidents in the workplace. If your organization has a record of recording accidents, but not addressing root cause to prevent reoccurrence, it can reasonably be assumed that OH&S matters are not as important to your organization as they should be.

How does your organization address risk?

Assessment of risk is a vital part of maintaining a safe workplace, and you can estimate how seriously OH&S matters are held within your organization by studying how it addresses risk.

Competence and awareness: These elements are strongly related to both risk and the frequency of accidents. Without the training and knowledge transfer it also brings increased competence and awareness, your workforce cannot truly be equipped to help your OH&SMS perform consistently well. An organization with employee well-being at the center of its strategic vision will ensure that employees are equipped with the correct knowledge to help deliver this. If this element is not present in your organization, then this is a cause for concern.

Level of leadership and communication: Do your leaders communicate to the team regularly and lead by example? A successful OH&SMS needs good communication channels, and leaders who communicate effectively can be a huge positive to employee morale and overall OH&SMS performance.

What are some of the main differentiation of ISO 45001 Certification and OHSAS 18001 Certification?

While both standards are focusing  improvements in operating conditions, ISO 45001 Certification takes a proactive approach to risk control that starts with the incorporation of health and safety within the overall management system of the organization, so driving top management to have a stronger leadership role in the safety and health program.

OHSAS 18001 takes a responsive approach of hazard control by delegation of hazard control responsibilities to safety management personnel rather than merging the responsibilities into the overall management system of the company.

Understanding the differences between the programs is important for employers as they move into the new system and explore the organizational possibilities. Below are several of the main differences between the two standards:

Management Commitment

In ISO 45001, management commitment is primary to the standard’s effectiveness and integration. The shift in the new standard is toward managerial ownership. The safety culture of the organization is to be supported by the engagement of management with workers, and demonstrated by a top-down emphasis. Instead of providing surveillance for the program, management should be true safety leaders.

This means an vital, participatory role in the organization’s safety and health for C-suite and those in management. Safety of workers, as well as performance improvements, are roles of leadership under the new ISO 45001:2018 Certification.

Worker Involvement

Workers also have broader participation in the new standard, with employees working with management to implement the safety management system (SMS). Employees should be given proper training and education to identify risks and help the company create a successful safety program. Internal audits and risk assessment results should be openly shared with workers and allow for employee input. According to ISO 45001 Certification, the responsibility of safety management belongs to everyone in the organization.

Risk Versus Hazard

ISO 45001 Certification follows a preventive process, which requires hazard risks to be evaluated and remedied, as opposed to hazard control, under OHSAS 18001. Think of the new standard as proactive, rather than reactive. By taking ISO 45001, your organization will find and identify potential hazard risks before they cause accidents and injuries. Audits, job safety examine and monitoring of workplace conditions will be vital to ensure the proactive approach prescribed by ISO 45001.


One evident and important difference between ISO 45001 Certification and OHSAS 18001 Certification is the structure. The new standard is based on Annex SL, which replaced ISO Guide 83, and applies a universal structure, terminology and definitions. You’re probably well familiar with this structure if you also use other systems such as ISO 9001 Certification and ISO 14001 Certification. Through using the same structure, multiple management systems are easier to implement in a more streamlined and efficient way.

Ultimately, ISO 45001 Certification can be best summarized as a whole-company, proactive approach to incorporating a safety culture. It is a framework that can take your organization to the next level in safety and health.

We are ISO 45001 Certification Body in Malaysia we can provide information about ISO 45001 and how achieve certification to it, feel free to contact us or visit our ISO 45001 frequently asked questions page!

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