• Phil Potter

Top 10 Differences between ISO 45001, AS/NZS 4801 and OHSAS 18001.

If you have a quality system or an environmental system, you will notice that the structure is the same across both of these. If you have an IMS or QHSE System, ISO 45001 should slot in easily.


So what are the differences in the new ISO 45001?



1. The OH&S management system processes now have to be integrated into the organization’s business processes. It should just be part of the every day routine.


2. Top management now takes overall responsibility and accountability for the protection of workers’ work-related health and safety.


Top management in both AS/NZS 4801 and OHSAS 18001 were responsible, but they could delegate the accountability.


Now the buck goes all the way to the top before it stops. This is how it is under the National WHS Laws in Australia anyway.


3. Targets are no longer required as they used to be in AS/NZS 4801. Interestingly OHSAS 18001 never required them.


They are however still mentioned in ISO 45001 in the definition of an objective, where it explains that an objective may be called something else, such as an aim, goal, or target.


I am hoping that some of those ridiculous safety targets now disappear. They should be proactive not reactive.


4. The active participation of workers is now required along with the identification and removal of any obstacles or barriers to consultation.


Suggested possible obstacles and barriers are mentioned, such as, failure to respond to worker input or suggestions, language or literacy barriers, reprisals, threats of reprisals and policies or practices that discourage or penalize worker participation.


Also, there is another requirement in the participation and inclusion of non-managerial workers. All workers now have to be involved – these are the people that do the work, and they are the people that are most likely to get injured.


How do you really know that all your employees know the key risks and the controls.


5. “Adapting work to workers” has been included as a way of controlling processes.

It is now clearer that “things have always been done like this” is not an acceptable control measure.


6. Multi-employer workplaces are now included along with the coordination of the (relevant parts of the) OH&S management system with other organizations.


This is applicable for building and construction sites, where many tradespeople are working, each possibly with a different employer, and a different system of management.


7. The hierarchy of control is in the requirements of ISO 45001 (similar to OHSAS 18001), whereas AS/NZS 4801 have it only in the guidance.


Isolation is not included which is a bit disappointing.


The hierarchy of control is an important methodology for controlling hazards and whilst quite straightforward rarely seems to be used in practice with most hazards being controlled through signage, documentation and training (administration), and hard hats, safety boots and protective eyewear (PPE).


8. The management of change is strengthened in ISO 45001 and requires that an organization is aware of any new risks that arise from changes.


This can include changes from new products, processes, services, changes to plant and equipment, or applicable legal and other requirement changes.


This should ensure a more structured and thoughtful approach to change management, by making people stop and think before they leap into change without thinking of the new risks that the change itself may introduce.


9. Continual improvement (which is a recurring activity to enhance performance) does not take place in all areas simultaneously and go on forever.

This means that it needs to be tailored to suit different situations, and may stop and start.


10. The incident definition now includes a note that an incident can occur where there is no nonconformity

This means that things can be working as they should and an incident can still happen.

Hopefully you found this blog post helpful.


For the next few months, I plan to provide detailed information on the requirements of ISO 45001:2018 and be providing examples of system requirements.


The Topic next week is Context of the Organisation.



Refer to the Comparison between ISO 45001 & OHSAS 18001 & AS/NZS 4801 that is available in free resources section of our website.