OHSAS 18001 (officially 'BS OHSAS 18001:2007') is an internationally-applied British Standard for occupational health and safety management systems. It exists to help all kinds of organizations put in place demonstrably sound occupational health and safety performance. It is a widely recognized and popular occupational health and safety management system.
Organizations worldwide recognize the need to control and improve health and safety performance and do so with occupational health and safety management systems (OHSMS). However before 1999 there was an increase of national standards and proprietary certification schemes to choose from. This caused confusion and fragmentation in the market and undermined the credibility of individual schemes.
Recognizing this deficit, an international collaboration called The Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) Project Group was formed to create a single unified approach. The Group comprised representatives from National standards bodies, academic bodies, accreditation bodies, certification bodies and occupational safety and health institutions, with the UK’s national standards body, BSI Group, providing the secretariat.
Drawing on the best of existing standards and schemes, the OHSAS Project Group published the OHSAS 18000 Series in 1999. The Series consisted of two specifications: 18001 provided requirements for an OHS management system and 18002 gave implementation guidelines. As of 2005, around 16,000 organizations in more than 80 countries were using the OHSAS 18001 specification. By 2009 more than 54,000 certificates had been issued in 116 countries to OHSAS or equivalent OHSMS standards.
Adoption as British Standard
The OHSAS 18001 specification was updated in July 2007. Among other changes, the new specification was more closely aligned with the structures of ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 so that organizations could more easily adopt OHSAS 18001 alongside existing management systems. Additionally, the 'health' component of 'health and safety' was given greater emphasis.
Later, the BSI Group decided to adopt OHSAS 18001 as a British standard, hence ‘BS OHSAS 18001’. BSI Group subsequently adopted the updated 18002 guidance specification for publication as BS OHSAS 18002 in 2008.
How they work
||This section may be too technical for most readers to understand. (June 2013)|
Its supporters claim that an occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS) promotes a safe and healthy working environment by providing a framework that helps organizations to: identify and control health and safety risks; reduce the potential for accidents; aid legal compliance; and improve overall performance.
The OHSAS 18000 standards provide organizations with the elements of an effective safety management system which can be integrated with other management systems and help organizations achieve better occupational health and safety performance and economic objectives.
BS OHSAS 18001 specifies requirements for an OH&S management system to help an organization develop and implement a policy and objectives, which take into account legal requirements and information about OH&S risks. It applies to all types and sizes of organizations and accommodates diverse geographical, cultural and social conditions.
BS OHSAS 18002 provides guidance for establishing, implementing or improving a management system which is based on OHSAS 18001 and demonstrating successful implementation of OHSAS 18001.
OHSAS 18001 can be aligned with existing ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 management systems. Historically many organizations start with the quality management system ISO 9001, then add the environment management requirements from ISO 14001. Many organizations now look at implementing all three standards at once which can minimize costs and disruption. The standards can be integrated using a standard such as BSI’s PAS 99.
The OHSAS 18000 standards were written and published wholly outside of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) framework. To avoid confusion, ISO 18000 does exist – but it is a radio frequency identification standard.
Future ISO standard
As of December 2013 the International Organization for Standardization has approved the project proposal to develop the ISO 45001 standard, an ISO analogue to the OHSAS 18000 standards. It is hoped by the ISO sub-committee organizing the standard that it will attain more international recognition and implementation than the relevant OHSAS standards have achieved.
- BS OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety
- International Labour Office Report, Page 2, Footnote 3
- Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Management Systems,Standards and Certificates Survey - to 31 December 2005
- BSI Group website
- BSI Press release July 2007: Health and safety management systems specification OHSAS 18001 is now a British Standard BS OHSAS 18001:2007
- BSI White Paper explaining origins of the standard, its adoption as a BS and anticipated transition to ISO 45001
- Solving the mystery: A summary of OHSAS 18000 and ISO 18000