With the Update of ISO 45001:2018 some people have become confused with the acronym OHSMS and the acronym OHSAS which was previously used in the title of the occupational health & safety management system standard OHSAS 18001:2007. So, what is the difference between these two acronyms, and what does it mean for occupational health & safety at your company? Some of the difference between OHSAS and OHSMS below.
What is an Occupational Health & Safety Management System?
An Occupational Health & Safety Management System, often called an OH&SMS, defines the framework in which the organization cares for the occupational health and safety of its employees. It represents a set of rules, policies, processes, plans and practices for preventing occupational health and safety hazards and minimizes risks in the workplace. OH&SMS is unique for every organization and it must be adequate to the legal requirements, occupational health and safety hazards and business processes applied in the organization. ISO 45001 represents the best practices in establishing, implementing and maintaining the OH&SMS. Its requirements and guidelines help an organization to establish effective OH&SMS and to avoid missing important elements along this way.
Getting to the heart of why ISO 45001 is important
Mitigating occupational health and safety hazards and preventing injuries in the workplace is one of the most important challenges that companies face. Among the biggest benefits of implementing an OH&SMS is enhancement of company’s public image that comes with being ISO 45001 certified. Being certified against ISO 45001 demonstrates that your company belongs among those businesses that cares for its employees’ health and safety. This can bring better relationships with customers, the public, and the community, but it also brings other benefits.
Along with the good public image, many companies can save money through the implementation of an Occupational Health & Safety Management System. This can be achieved through reducing incidents resulting in injuries and being able to obtain insurance at a more reasonable cost. This improvement in cost control is a benefit that cannot be overlooked when you’re making the decision to implement an OH&SMS.
OHSAS: What is it and where does it come from?
OHSAS is the acronym for Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series. This refers to the series of standards that were issued by the British Standards Institute (BSI) in 1999, which included 2 standards: OHSAS 18001:1999 and OHSAS 18002:1999. OHSAS 18001 was a standard that included the requirements for creating an Occupational Health & Safety Management System (OHSMS), while OHSAS 18002 was a supporting standard that gave guidelines for implementation of the OHSAS 18001 standard.
OHSAS 18001 was updated in July 2007, becoming OHSAS 18001:2007. This update was intended to better reflect the guidelines for implementation, and to put greater emphasis on the “health” component of health & safety. This was the standard used by many companies around the world until the International Organization for Standardization released the ISO 45001:2018 standard. For clarity, the OHSAS 18000 standard was published completely outside of the ISO framework by BSI. There is an ISO 18000 standard, but this is a standard for radio-frequency identification.
OHSMS: What is it?
On the other hand, OHSMS is the acronym for Occupational Health & Safety Management System. The OHSMS are all of the rules, policies, processes and procedures that an organization puts in place to continually improve OH&S performance, fulfill legal and other OH&S requirements and achieve OH&S objectives for the company. These requirements include understanding the hazards and risks of your processes, knowing your legal and other requirements, and identifying and implementing the controls needed to avoid injury and ill health in the workplace.
As mentioned above, the OHSAS 18001:2007 standard was used as the requirements for many OHSMS implementations at many companies throughout the world. Now that ISO 45001:2018 has been released as the internationally recognized requirements for an OHSMS, it is expected to replace the OHSAS 18001:2007 standard in use. Both of these standards included the requirements needed to create an occupational health & safety management system for your organization.
What does this mean for your organization?
As has been posted by both the international organization for standardization, and the British standards institute, the ISO 45001:2018 standard is intended to replace the OHSAS 18001:2007 standard for use as requirements to create an OHSMS. As such, companies have three years from the release of ISO 45001:2018 to transition their management systems over to the requirements of the new standard; the deadline is March 2021. After this, the OHSAS 18001:2007 standard will be obsolete and any companies still using this standard will not be able to certify their OHSMS.
While many of the requirements are the same in the new standard, there are some new requirements to consider. If your organization has already implemented an OHSMS using the OHSAS 18001 requirements, you need to find out how to comply with any new requirements (such as consultation and participation of workers) and implement these new processes within your organization. It is best to start with a gap analysis against the standard requirements to see what you are missing.
If you are implementing a new OHSMS it is important to note that you should not use the OHSAS 18001 standard as it is going out of use. Instead, start with the ISO 45001 requirements and implement the processes needed to meet these requirements from the start; there is no need to start with the older standard and then transition to the new standard.
Implement an OHSMS that will benefit your organization
It doesn’t matter if you are transitioning from OHSAS 18001, or starting to implement an OHSMS from ISO 45001, the important thing to remember is why you are implementing the OHSMS. You need to implement the processes that will help you to improve your OH&S performance and avoid injury and ill health in the workplace. The requirements are there to inform you of the processes that are needed in a world-class management system, but you need to interpret the requirements to work for your organization.
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