News, Updates & Events

ISO 45001

“Plan; Do; Check; Act;

Check it out;

What; what; what;

What’s it all about?”

(With apologies to the Beasty Boys)


In mid-March the new occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS) ISO45001 was launched by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This replaces OHSAS 18001 to become the globally recognised OHSMS standard.

ISO45001 adopts a management approach based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) management cycle, mirroring the approach taken by the HSE in their guidance HSG65.

In brief this management cycle can be summarised as:

Plan:  determine and assess OH&S risks and opportunities, establish OH&S objectives and processes necessary to deliver results in accordance with the OH&S policy;

Do:  implement the processes as planned;

Check:  monitor and measure activities and processes with regard to the OH&S policy and OH&S objectives, and report the results;

Act:  take actions to continually improve the OH&S performance to achieve the intended outcomes.

Direct read across from the HSG65 management model might be misleading because even though both are based on PDCA there are differences in the activities required within some of the four elements. For example, HSG65 puts accident investigation into Check whilst ISO45001 references this activity in clause 10/ Act.

Unlike HSG65 the PDCA cycle is not directly used as the structure of the management system. Instead the standard is stated as ten clauses, with clause 4 to 10 representing the backbone.

  • Clause 4: Context of the organization – this sets the scene for the management system by focusing on the organisation and the environment within which it operates.
  • Clause 5: Leadership and worker participation – requires that the OHSMS is driven by those at the top of the organisation with the active engagement and participation of workers at all levels.

The PDCA framework can be directly imposed on the remaining clauses:


  • Clause 6: Planning – requires an ongoing planning process so that hazards and risks are identified and appropriate action is identified and planned. Planning for emergencies and planning the risk assessment system feature in this clause.


  • Clause 7: Support – is concerned with issues such as resource provision, worker competence and workers OH&S awareness.
  • Clause 8: Operation – requires that hazard and risk are operationally managed and deals with operational planning and control and emergency preparedness and response.


  • Clause 9: Performance evaluation – requires the systematic internal monitoring and reviewing of OH&S performance. Performance monitoring, internal auditing and management review all feature in this part of the system.


  • Clause 10: Improvement – embeds the principle of learning lessons and implementing the learning from those lessons into the OHSMS. Safety inspections, accident investigation and the principle of continual improvement are all embedded in this clause.

Organisations that are certificated to OHSAS18001 have three years to move across to the new standard. Whilst organisations that are already working to OHSAS18001 will inevitably experience some disruption as they learn to work to the new standard the most significant issue may be the very heavy emphasis on management leadership in ISO45001. The standard makes it clear that top management must be personally involved in driving and promoting the OHSMS. This is likely to have the knock-on effect of promoting a positive safety culture within the organisation more powerfully than previously required.

If you are studying for a NEBOSH Certificate or Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety you will recognise safety management systems from either NGC1/ IGC1 or Unit A/ Unit IA of your studies. The OHSAS18001 management system has been withdrawn and replaced with ISO45001. From an examinations point of view ISO45001 will not be directly examinable until mid-September 2018. From that point on it will be fair game for exam questions in both the Certificate NGC1/ IGC1 exams and Diploma Unit A/ IA exams. So bear that in mind during your studies.

“Now get busy!”

Dr Jim Phelpstead BSc, PhD, CMIOSH

RRC Consultant Tutor