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OHSAS 18001 - What you need to know

Posted by Bertrand Duteil on 23/03/2017

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A safe work environment is a basic requirement for every company, especially the ones working with machines and hazardous materials. Basic safety measures are generally guaranteed by the work safety regulation applied by the company, completed by several legal standards reducing the accident hazard and the different dangers on the working space.

Along with legal standards, companies have the possibility to introduce work safety management systems and to let them certify. One of the most common work safety management system is the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series or OHSAS.

OHSAS 18001 fundamentals

To keep employee safety as first priority for every company, the standard aims to reduce the accidents and health hazards on the work place. 

The OHSAS 18001 is based on the principle of steady improvement and plans the introduction of work safety and health protection management system. The principle of steady improvement is based on the PDCA cycle, also known as the Deming wheel or the Shewhart cycle.

Prerequisite: Hazard identification and risk assessment

  • Plan: Safety policy and planning
  • Do: Realisation and operation
  • Check: Review and certification
  • Act: Management evaluation

The management system supports companies to identify danger zones, analyze and assess the possible risks. It requires the setup of a work safety management system with a written safety policy documentation where the company expresses the work safety goals and standards along with the implementation measures. The company also needs to make sure that the necessary resources for the implementation are available and that employees received the appropriate trainings.

Structure of OHSAS 18001

  1. Scope
  2. Reference publications
  3. Terms and definitions
    1. Acceptable risk
    2. Audit
    3. Continual improvement
    4. Corrective action
    5. Document
    6. Hazard
    7. Hazard identification
    8. Ill health
    9. Incident
    10. Interested party
    11. Nonconformity
    12. Occupational health & safety (OH&S)
    13. OH&S management system
    14. OH&S objective
    15. OH&S performance
    16. OH&S policy
    17. Organization
    18. Preventive action
    19. Procedure
    20. Record
    21. Risk
    22. Risk assessment
    23. Workplace
  4. OH&S management system requirements
    1. General requirements
    2. OH&S policy
    3. Planning
    4. Implementation and operation
    5. Checking
    6. Management Review

Certification process

The OHSAS 18001 certification is issued after an audit made by an independent audit body. The certification has a validity period of three years.

A certification occurs after the following steps:

  • Pre-audit
  • Documentation check
  • Certification audit
  • Certification issue
  • Monitoring audit
  • Re-certification

OHSAS 18001 & ISO 45001

ISO 45001, a new international standard for work and health safety management, is currently being developed. After the refusal of the first standard draft (DIS 1), a second draft is prepared and should be released during the first quarter of 2018. The new standard should contain a “High level structure” offering a better compatibility with other norms such as the ISO 9001 or the ISO 14001.

The ISO 45001 will follow a 10 steps structure:

  1. Scope
  2. Normative References
  3. Terms and Definitions
  4. Context of the Organization
  5. Leadership
  6. Planning
  7. Support
  8. Operation
  9. Performance Evaluation
  10. Continual Improvement

The goal is to replace the current standard OHSAS 18001 with the ISO 45001. The companies will have three years to adapt to the new standard. Until the final release of the ISO 45001 standard, OHSAS certified companies and companies wishing to introduce a work safety management system can keep on working with the OHSAS standard.

Further information

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Tags: Certifications, tips, work safety