OHSAS 18001 Revised for Health and Safety

OHSAS 18001:2007 specifies the requirements for an organization to control its Occupational Health and Safety risks and improve its performance.

OHSAS 18001:2007 has been issued as a British Standard and supersedes OHSAS 18001:1999, which will remain current until 2009.

There have been a number of significant changes made to the standard to reflect its widespread use in more than 80 countries and by approximately 16,000 certified organizations.

The principal changes include a much greater emphasis on “health” rather than just “safety” and significantly improved alignment to ISO 14001:2004 for use of integrated management systems.

The key changes between OHSAS 18001:2007 and OHSAS 18001:1999 include:

  • The importance of “health” has been given greater emphasis.
  • OHSAS 18001 now refers to itself as a standard, not a specification or document as in the earlier edition. This reflects the increasing adoption of OHSAS 18001 as the basis for national standards on occupational health and safety management systems.
  • The “Plan-Do-Check-Act” model diagram is only given in the Introduction, in its entirety, and not also as sectional diagrams at the start of each major clause.
  • Reference publications in Clause 2 have been limited to purely international documents.
  • New definitions have been added and existing definitions revised.
  • Significant improvement in alignment with ISO 14001:2004 throughout the standard.
  • Improved compatibility with ISO 9001:2000.
  • A new requirement has been introduced to consider the hierarchy of controls as part of OH&S planning.
  • Management of change is now more explicitly addressed.
  • A new clause on the “Evaluation of Compliance” has been introduced, as per ISO 14001:2004.
  • New requirements have been introduced for participation and consultation, as well as, for the investigation of incidents.

Transition Period
For organizations that have already achieved certification to OHSAS 18001:1999, or are in the final stages of achieving it, a two year “transition” period will allow them to make the change to using the new standard. The transition period will end on July 1, 2009.

For organizations just starting the path towards certification to OHSAS 18001 and looking for guidance, they can still use the sister standard OHSAS 18002:2000, which provides guidelines for the implementation of OHSAS 18001. While OHSAS 18002 is aligned on a clause by clause basis against OHSAS 18001:1999, it does contain valuable advice on what must be done to achieve compliance. A revised edition of OHSAS 18002 is planned for publication at the end of the 3rd quarter of 2008.