Last Updated 11th April 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) in 2016. It was hoped that the level of comment would be at a level that ISO 45001 would be able to be issued (skipping the FDIS stage) some months later. 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.
At the time of writing, the 2017 DIS is anticipated to be released for comment in April 2017. Again it is hoped that the level of comment will be at a level that and FDIS stage can be skipped, but let’s see. The bottom line is that we won’t see ISO 45001 issued in 2017, however the target of Spring 2018 still looks realistic.
What this means for OHSAS 18001
What this means for OHSAS 18001 is that it will continue to be the most prevalent certified management system standard in the world until at least 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 examples) it is normal for relatively few organisations to target a transition audit at the earliest opportunity. OHSAS 18001 will remain a live document until at least Spring 2021.
Update 11th April 2017
The second DIS for ISO 45001 has been published and will be available for review and comment on various platforms internationally once translations have been approved. A four month consultation process will then follow, at the end of which a decision will be made as to whether an FDIS stage is required. This will depend upon the volume of comments made and the amount of revision that is deemed necessary. The best case scenario is that an FDIS is not deemed necessary and ISO 45001 is published. This could be as early as November 2017. If an FDIS stage is deemed necessary then the anticipated timeline for publication will move to Quarter 2 2018 at the earliest.
So what is most likely? There are two issues. Firstly the appetite of national bodies to chip away still more at this DIS with comments. It is possible the protracted process has worn everyone down and comments at this stage reduce as a result of fatigue. However past experience has shown that the reconciliation of ISO 45001 with the Annex SL format has proven problematic so far, not just with the requirements, but with the adoption of the Annex SL Normative References (the most problematic being the Annex SL definition of Risk). If I were a betting man I’d be putting my money on the FDIS/2018 release scenario, but let’s see.