Health & Safety Insights

Considering ISO 45001 Certification?

Matthew Nuckolls

Date: 9/22/2021

The ISO 45001 standard, which was released in 2018, is the international standard for Occupational health and safety management systems. Within the standard, you’ll find a layout of best practices for developing a health and safety management system, including guidance on using the system. The goal of the standard is to help employers make the workplace safer by proactively evaluating health and safety performance.


ISO 45001 is the first occupational safety and health management system standard to be internationally accepted, providing a framework for employers to improve safety and health and reduce risk. It replaces OHSAS 18001, giving organizations conforming to OHSAS 18001 a three-year transition period, which is quickly coming to an end.


Most businesses have implemented some sort of ISO standard in the past, for quality, security, environmental management, or something else. Many businesses decided to implement ISO standards to better compete in their industry sector. Because ISO 45001 is compatible with other ISO standards, organizations that have already implemented another standard will have a leg up if they decide to work toward ISO 45001 certification.


The standard helps companies establish and attain safety and health objectives by documenting legal obligations and then going through a continual improvement process. The standard does not specify objectives, but does provide a framework to integrate safety and health with other initiatives, such as employee wellness. Organizations of any size could benefit from this process, regardless of industry sector.


How to get ISO 45001 certified To become certified, employers should first purchase the ISO standard, form a steering committee, then conduct a gap assessment looking at where they are now and where they need to get to meet ISO 45001. Once the provisions have been implemented, the employer schedules a third-party auditor to come in and determine certification.


The certification process will involve reviewing many documents. For example, an organization must prepare a regulatory matrix of provisions that apply to the company. (This could be a valuable exercise, even if the company decides not to go for the certification.) The employer would also identify related strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.


Various investment entities are looking at sustainable companies, and particularly looking at safety and health, as a performance metric before investing in or doing business with other companies. For example, potential business partners may ask, "What are you doing for safety and health?" For small- to mid-size companies that don't have management systems in place, obtaining the ISO 45001 certification could set them apart from their competitors.