OHSAS 18001
Pages Appendix1 Appendix2 References


OHSAS 18001

Occupational Health and Safety


An OHSAS 18001 certificate proves that your management system has been measured against a best practice standard and found compliant. Issued by a third party accreditation body/registrar, the certificate lets employees and other stakeholders know that you proactively protect the health and safety of your work force.

The OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series) certification system is created by an association of national standard bodies, certification bodies/registrars, and specialist consultancies. DNV has actively contributed to the development of the standard.

The OHSAS series
OHSAS 18001 is designed to help organisations formulate occupational health and safety policies and objectives. It was first released in 1999 and revised in 2007 and is the world’s most recognised framework for ocupational health and safety management systems. It is applicable to any organisation, large or small, and within any business sector. OHSAS 18001 is largely aligned wth the structure of ISO 14001 and is based on the two concepts of continual improvement and regulatory compliance. 

Eliminating risks and hazards 
OHSAS 18001 will measure your managements system with regards to several dimensions. The extent of application will depend on such factors as the occupational health and safety policy of the organisation, the nature of its activities, and conditions under which it operates.


Many organizations are implementing an Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) as part of their risk management strategy to address changing legislation and protect their workforce.

An OHSMS promotes a safe and healthy working environment by providing a framework that allows your organization to consistently identify and control its health and safety risks, reduce the potential for accidents, aid legislative compliance and improve overall performance.

OHSAS 18001 is the internationally recognized assessment specification for occupational health and safety management systems. It was developed by a selection of leading trade bodies, international standards and certification bodies to address a gap where no third-party certifiable international standard exists. 

OHSAS 18001 has been designed to be compatible with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, to help your organization meet their health and safety obligations in an efficient manner.

The following key areas are addressed by OHSAS 18001:

  • Planning for hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control
  • OHSAS management programme
  • Structure and responsibility
  • Training, awareness and competence
  • Consultation and communication
  • Operational control
  • Emergency preparedness and response
  • Performance measuring, monitoring and improvement

OHSAS 18001 can be adopted by any organization wishing to implement a formal procedure to reduce the risks associated with health and safety in the working environment for employees, customers and the general public.



In a competitive marketplace, your customers are looking for more than just keen pricing from their suppliers. Companies need to demonstrate that their businesses are managed efficiently and responsibly and that they can provide a reliable service without excessive downtime caused by work-related accidents and incidents.

Certifying your BS OHSAS 18001 management system enables your organization to prove that it conforms to the specification and provides the following benefits:

  • Potential reduction in the number of accidents
  • Potential reduction in downtime and associated costs
  • Demonstration of legal and regulatory compliance
  • Demonstration to stakeholders of your commitment to health and safety
  • Demonstration of an innovative and forward thinking approach
  • Increased access to new customers and business partners
  • Better management of health and safety risks, now and in the future
  • Potential reduced public liability insurance costs

Steps to certification

There are key steps that every organization implementing an occupational health and safety management system will need to consider:

1. Purchase the specification

Before you can begin preparing for your application, you will require a copy of the specification.

2. Review support literature

There are a wide range of publications designed to help you understand and implement an occupational health and safety management system.

3. Consider training

There are a range of workshops, seminars and training courses available to help you implement and assess your occupational health and safety management system.

4. Review consultancy options

You can receive advice from independent consultants on how best to implement your occupational health and safety management system. They may have the experience in implementation that can help you avoid costly mistakes.

5. Design the BS OHSAS 18001 management system

The BS OHSAS 18001 specification follows the plan-do-check-review cycle, with a concurrent emphasis on continual improvement. This model fits in neatly with the structure of other management system documents, such as ISO 14001 and ISO 9001. 

This alignment of the management system documents helps in the facilitation of Integrated management systems.

The following steps help form the basic structure of the management system and link into the structure of BS OHSAS 18001.


During the planning stage you should:

  • Ensure you have the commitment of top management
  • Define, with the authorization of top management, your company's occupational health and safety policy
  • Planning must be completed to establish a framework for identifying hazards, risk assessments and the implementation of necessary control measures
  • Legal obligations must be identified and understood, objectives set and a management programme for achieving them implemented; this entire process should be documented

Implement your health and safety management system

At this point you should:

  • Establish roles and responsibilities
  • Develop procedures for the consultation and communication of OHS information to employees and other interested parties
  • Document your processes and develop a system of document and data control
  • Apply a system of operational control
  • Establish plans and procedures for emergencies
  • Check your management system and take any necessary corrective action

You should aim to continually improve your management system by:

  • Introducing performance, measuring and monitoring practices
  • Establishing and documenting responsibility and authority for accidents, incidents, non-conformities, and corrective and preventative action
  • Establishing a procedure for records and records management
  • Auditing and assessing the performance of the management system
  • Performing management reviews of the system at identified and defined intervals

Integrating Management Systems
(ISO 9000, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001)

At times, it seems like we're being inundated with ISO standards these days. Scott Adams has found a lot of material for his Dilbert comic strips from the ISO requirements. If developed and implemented properly though, companies find that these systems do in fact have value beyond meeting customer requirements. Improvements can occur in efficiency, quality, compliance, environmental impacts, health & safety risk reduction, and even costs (cost savings tend not to occur until after the initial investment to develop the systems). For companies that need or want to develop systems that conform to more than one of these management system standards, a cost-effective way to do so is to integrate these systems.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has issued ISO 9000 standards for Quality Management Systems (QMS), and the ISO 14001 standard for Environmental Management Systems (EMS). More recently, a consortium of standards bodies have issued the OHSAS 18001 occupational health & safety management systems (HSMS) standard. It is anticipated that the OHSAS 18001 standard will also become a future ISO standard. Additional standards exist for specific applications such as the automotive industry QS 9000 and TS 16945 standards. Many organizations have seen the benefits of these systems of management, and have encouraged or required their suppliers and vendors to implement similar systems. All of these systems have the basic structure diagrammed below:


Key Components of OHSAS 18001 and ISO 14001


As shown in the diagram, the key components of OHSAS 18001 and ISO 14001 are the same, and in fact, the standards are nearly identical except the words "occupational health and safety" are substituted for "environmental". The most significant difference between these standards is that the ISO 14001 EMS is built around the significant environmental aspects and impacts of the organization whereas the basis of the OHSAS 18001 HSMS are the results of health & safety risk assessments.

Given that these various systems have many similarities in structure and content, it makes sense to integrate these systems so as to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and reduce the maintenance costs associated with each (including surveillance audit costs necessary to maintain certifications!). CAPACCIO has worked with various companies to help them successfully integrate systems and thereby save costs and resources. Consider some of the following opportunities for integrating systems:


  • Combine EMS and HSMS manuals, particularly if the same department is involved in the implementation of both systems
  • Combine Objectives, Targets, & Programs, especially in cases where there is overlap. For example, substituting less hazardous chemicals or alternative processes can have a positive impact on the environment AND it can also reduce occupational health & safety risks and hazards.
  • Combine Audit SystemsOften, the same internal auditors can audit areas for environmental as well as health & safety at the same time. Additionally, internal EMS audits can be combined with internal HSMS audits in the many areas of overlap.
  • Combine Corrective & Preventive Action Systems. The standards for the quality management systems (QMS), the environmental management systems (EMS), and the health and safety management systems (HSMS) all require similar corrective & preventive action systems. When non-conformances to these systems are identified, corrective actions must be identified and implemented to fix the specific non-conformance. In addition, the root cause of the specific non-conformance must be identified so that a preventive action can be identified and implemented to prevent similar non-conformances or repeat instances of nonconformance’s from occurring. The same or similar tracking systems can be used for QMS, EMS, and/or HSMS. Electronic forms and databases are a very effective way of tracking these items to closure and ensuring the responsible persons identify, implement, and verify actions (CAPACCIO's IT department can help design electronic tracking systems to automate the process of notifying responsible parties of upcoming deadlines and to track items to closures).
  • Combine Documentation Systems. Many companies already have formal documentation procedures for engineering design and manufacturing specifications. Companies who have already implemented ISO 9000 systems often have very sophisticated electronic document control systems. Avoid "re-inventing the wheel" by taking advantage of existing systems that already meet the ISO standards or just need minor "tweaking" to meet the standard. Using the same system makes it easier for employees to use too.
  • Combine Management Review Systems. Consider incorporating the environmental, health and safety (EH&S) management reviews into existing management review systems.  Take advantage of processes learned through quality management systems (such as development of effective process and result metrics) to present useful and meaningful information to management.

These are just some of the ways that systems can be integrated.  Based on our experiences with integrating systems, we have seen significant savings in costs and resources as well as systems that are easier for employees to follow. Additional cost and time savings can be realized when registrars conduct the ongoing surveillance audits necessary to maintain certifications.  International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and Registrar Accreditation Board (RAB) guidelines specify minimum numbers of auditor days required for various types of facilities and certifications. By integrating systems, you can combine ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 surveillance audits to minimize "double auditing" of the same system, thereby gaining significant savings in audit costs and interruptions to operations


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