ISO 45001 Update (August 2017)

Last Updated 2nd August 2017 (see footnotes)


I’ll start this post by outlining the background and history of the transition of OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001, for those of you that may not have been following the saga, or for those of you that have been fed incorrect information.

Initially the plan was to issue the new ISO 45001 standard along with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 in September 2015. Unfortunately agreement on the content of ISO 45001 proved problematic and that didn’t happen. Initially this led to added levels of consultation and amendment, culminating in the issue of a Draft International Standard (DIS) of ISO 45001 in 2016. At that time it was hoped that the level of comment would be at a level that ISO 45001 would be able to be issued directly – skipping the Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) stage. That proved to be an outrageously optimistic plan, and in fact the level of disagreement on content was such that it was decided to start again from scratch, rather than to try to reconcile the outstanding issues by revising the 2016 DIS. In short it was sent back to the drawing board, and the revised timetable for issuing ISO 45001 targeted Spring 2018 as the date of issue. So a second DIS (DIS 2) was issued in April 2017. Again it was hoped that the level of comment would be so low as to allow the issue of the ISO 45001 without it passing through the FDIS stage. Again this was not possible.

Current Status

At the time of writing, the 2017 FDIS is anticipated to be released for comment in Quarter 4 2017, probably November. For those of you unfamiliar with the various stages of consultation for ISO standards, the FDIS is generally expected to be, give or take a few tweaks here and there, pretty close to the standard that finally gets issued. So we (think we) are nearly there. We are now realistically looking at Quarter 2, 2018 as the most likely date of issue of ISO 45001. But we can now do that with a reasonable degree of optimism.

What this means for OHSAS 18001

What this means for OHSAS 18001 is that it will continue to be the most prevalent certifiable management system standard in the world until at least the end of 2019. Even if ISO 45001 is issued in the Spring of 2018, it will take the certification bodies some months to achieve their Accreditation. Also (and I am using ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 as sighters for that timeline) it is normal for relatively few organisations to target a transition audit at the earliest opportunity. For a number of reasons it is often best to let the dust settle. OHSAS 18001 will remain a live document until at least Spring 2021. We can expect transition audits to pick up pace towards the end of 2019, with the deadline being sometime in mid 2021 – three years from the date it gets issued (a date we don’t know yet).


What this means for OHSAS 18001 Lead Auditor Training

We have seen a reduced flow of traffic this past 2 years through our OHSMS (OHSAS 18001) Lead Auditor Courses. This is partially understandable. For those people that are in no particular hurry to complete their course, there has been a tendency to defer their training and complete the course under the new standard and avoid the need for a short ISO 45001 transition course. It is important, however, to remember that whenever standards change, it DOES NOT render your training to an older version of the standard redundant. The course, remember, is officially entitled OHSMS Auditor/Lead Auditor, and we all complete our training to whichever standard is current at the time. In my case that was OHSAS 18001:1999 for instance. It is also important to remember that up until at least the end of 2019, it is OHSAS 18001 that will be the most certified standard worldwide and, up until that time, the majority of OHSMS audits will be to that standard. Clearly completing the OHSMS Course to ISO 45001 and skipping the OHSAS 18001 phase comes with some medium term restrictions for that reason.

Those of us that completed their training to older versions of the standard will need to complete an appropriate transition course to ISO 45001 (not a full lead auditor course). It is anticipated that the IRCA approved transition courses and the new OHSMS Auditor/Lead Auditor course will be available around Easter time in 2018. As is usual when standards change you may see a plethora of alleged “ISO 45001 training” being offered earlier. In fact I have been seeing this for over a year. There is nothing ILLEGAL with offering training against a DIS or FDIS, but bear in mind that this training WILL NOT be accredited and it WILL NOT even be training against the official standard, as it hasn’t even been drafted yet. In my opinion it just exploits a combination of ignorance and impatience. Caveat emptor applies.

Shaun Sayers

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