The 4 Core Steps Involved in Successfully Transitioning to ISO 45001:2018

If you’ve previously gained AS 4801 or OHSAS 18001 certification, or you’re interested in boosting your organisation’s OHS compliance, it’s time to look into following ISO 45001 guidelines.

What is ISO 45001?

ISO 45001 is the internationally recognised standard for occupational health and safety, which provides businesses with a set of universal guidelines aimed at lowering risks in the workplace. Ultimately, it’s anticipated that those who successfully attain ISO 45001 certification will have comprehensive, maintainable processes in place to proactively protect their employee’s safety.

Published in March of 2018, ISO 45001 is the amended, harmonised version of AS 4801 and OHSAS 18001, and is set to replace these standards in the near future. While AS 4801 was purely designed for businesses located in Australia and New Zealand, OHSAS 18001 has been implemented on a global scale.

Those who’ve previously achieved OHSAS 18001 certification will need to transition to ISO 45001 before March 2021 if they intend to maintain their OHS standard compliance. After this time, OHSAS 18001 will be fully phased out of use. AS 4801 has only recently been superseded by ISO 45001 and, as of current, remains available to Australian businesses. This is because it’s directly referenced in Australian legislation and, thus, will be considered current until otherwise determined by regulators.

While compliance with ISO 45001 isn’t mandatory, certification gives an organisation’s member’s confidence in the consciousness of business processes. With ISO 45001 certification, companies have the opportunity to demonstrate their clear dedication to risk management, all the while satisfying “best practice” standards.

Regardless of your business type, size and activity, the ISO 45001 guidelines can help you strategically integrate effective, sustainable OHS management systems organisation-wide.

Achieving and Maintaining ISO 45001 Compliance

Typically, organisations that are taking measures to achieve compliance with ISO 45001 are able to gain certification within three to six months. However, it’s important to note that this period can vary depending on your organisational context and business circumstances. While certain companies are already implementing relatively compliant systems, this will not always be the case.

Once you’ve satisfied the requirements detailed in ISO 45001, it’s expected that you regularly audit your performance. This ensures that, after becoming certified, companies continue to meet the standard guidelines.

After ISO 45001 is successfully obtained, an organisation’s certification can remain valid for up to three years, warranted that they monitor their systems appropriately. When this time has elapsed, if they intend to renew their compliance, their systems will need to be reviewed and re-assessed against the standard requirements.

Certification isn’t achieved overnight, so if you’re interested in improving your business’ OHS compliance, why not start the process now? By adopting a commitment to identifying, addressing and managing ongoing risks in your organisation, you can keep your employees safe, happy and healthy.

Should Your Business Become ISO 45001 Certified?

As of December 31st 2018, there were almost 12,000 valid ISO 45001 certificates that had been obtained by companies around the world. Recorded just nine months after the standard’s formal publication, it’s anticipated that this figure will continue its growth as more organisations make the transition. In fact, during the next decade, it’s expected that compliance with ISO 45001 will be achieved by more than 500,000 businesses globally.

So, why are so many organisations introducing ISO 45001 compliant management systems?

By making a conscious, proactive effort to improve risk management across all operations, there is a vast array of benefits organisations can enjoy. These include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

  • By proactively identifying and addressing risks, as required by ISO 45001, organisations can improve the safety of their employees in the workplace. This can, in turn, reduce the number of staff who experience illness or injury while at work. Consequently, businesses will often encounter fewer injury-related costs.
  • For a company to achieve ISO 45001 compliance, its processes must be audited by an independent certification body. Because of this, accreditation is a reliable, credible way for organisations to demonstrate their prioritisation of OHS in the workplace. This can assist your business in securing more deals with companies that follow preferential purchasing policies, who will often elect to work with those who employ accredited OHS management systems.
  • ISO 45001 uses Annex SL, a standardised high-level structure that can be effectively applied in businesses across industries and borders. This means that, if your business operates in numerous different countries, you can follow a single set of guidelines for improving OHS in all of your workplaces. In addition to this, simultaneously gaining compliance with various alternative standards, such as ISO 9001 or ISO 14001, has become far easier than before. This is because all ISO standards use Annex SL, so your business can seamlessly integrate ISO 45001 with divergent standards and boost compliance across all operations. By following common guidelines, organisations can also reduce documentation and duplication.
  • With ISO 45001 certification, organisations can demonstrate their compliance with government regulations and legislative requirements.
  • Compliant companies take on greater responsibility for their global impact and, in doing so, are able to enhance their awareness of stakeholder needs and expectations. 

Transitioning From OHSAS 18001/AS 4801 to ISO 45001

When making the transition to ISO 45001, there is a clear process an organisation can follow to ensure that they’re OHS management systems are comprehensive and effective. However, as each business is different, it’s often recommended that individuals discuss their transition process with an experienced consultant who understands the standard requirements.

  1. Complete an ISO Gap Analysis of Your Current Systems

By conducting an ISO gap analysis, your business can gain valuable insights into how compliant you are at this point in time.

The first step is to review your current systems against ISO 45001 standard requirements, allowing you to identify any areas that will need to be addressed prior to certification. This involves using a gap assessment matrix, a tool that assists you in systematically assessing the level to which you comply with each clause of the standard.

During this stage, organisations will often find it particularly beneficial to gain professional assistance from an ISO consultant. This is because they can provide a fresh, outside perspective, identifying points that someone who’s overly familiar with your business’ systems may overlook.

  1. Determine Your Plan-of-Action

Once the findings from your gap analysis have been summarised, you will need to develop practical, cost-effective strategies to address any downfalls in your management systems.

It’s important to ensure that you’re prepared to dedicate a realistic amount of time and resources to improving your management systems, rather than expecting immediate results from little input.

  1. Implement Required Changes

 ISO 45001 guidelines have a strong focus on the need for individuals across all organisational levels to share responsibility for a business’ improved OHS management. Thus, it’s likely that, before alterations can start being integrated into your systems, your employees will have to undergo some form of training. The extent to which this is required will, of course, vary depending on the particular changes you plan on implementing.

Once your management systems have been adjusted accordingly, it’s crucial that you measure your performance and, in doing this, verify the effectiveness of your changes.

An accredited auditor will then conduct an ISO internal audit of your systems, determining whether your current processes meet the standard requirements. Your ISO consultant will provide you with a comprehensive report, documenting their findings and outlining any suggestions they have to guide the continued improvement of your systems.

When your management systems are found to meet the requirements outlined in ISO 45001, you will be awarded certification.

  1. Monitor Your Ongoing Compliance

 After having achieved certification, in order to remain compliant, you need to regularly examine your system, all the while making any appropriate changes.

Your organisation will be required to develop a systematic approach for measuring and evaluating the ongoing performance of your OHS management systems, taking the following into account:

  • Are you fulfilling your legislative obligations?
  • What are the characteristics associated with the risks, hazards and opportunities you identified? How prominent are they within your organisation?
  • How close are you to achieving your OHS objectives, and are you on track to reach them on schedule?
  • Are there areas you’re not currently focusing on that may require attention?

By consistently reviewing your performance, your business can ensure you’re taking adequate action to stay compliant so that you can enjoy the benefits of certification long into the future.

Want to Get ISO 45001 Certified?

At Integrated Compliance Solutions, we have extensive experience providing expert assistance and guidance to organisations that are interested in achieving ISO 45001 certification. Whether you’re transitioning from AS 4801 or OHSAS 18001, or adopting an OHS management system for the first time, we can help.

Our proficient consultants are available Australia-wide, with expertise in numerous standards such as ISO 9001 (quality), ISO 14001 (environment) and ISO 13485 (medical devices). When it comes to maintaining your compliance, we can also deliver comprehensive ISO gap analysis, ISO internal audit and ISO compliance audit services.

To speak with a specialist, get in touch with our team today.

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