OHSAS 18001: An Overview

ISO Standards, Management Systems


OHSAS 18001 was developed to bridge the gap where no international standard existed for occupational health and safety. It sets out the minimum requirements for occupational health and safety management best practice and its structure is very similar to the ISO 14001 standard for Environmental Management Systems (EMS). A main driver for this standard was to try to remove confusion in the workplace from the proliferation of certifiable occupational health and safety. Since OHSAS 18001 was published in 1999, it has had a hugely successful adoption. By 2009 more than 54,000 certificates had been issued to around 16,000 organisations covering more than 80 countries.

A key feature of OHSAS 18001 is the need for organisations to ensure employee participation in specific areas of the management system. Involvement should include participation in the hazard/risk and determining controls process, incident investigations, and development and review of policies and objectives. In addition, employees must be consulted on any changes that affect their OH&S as well as representation on OH&S matters. Additionally, consultation with contractors is required where changes may affect their OH&S.

The 18001 standard requires risk reduction considerations according to a 5 step hierarchy: elimination, substitution, engineering controls, signage/warnings and/or administrative controls and lastly, personal protective equipment.

How to gain this standard?

In order for your organisation to gain OHSAS 18001 there are 5 main areas that must be examined by an approved centre. These are:

  1. Occupational health and safety policies
  2. How your organisation conducts planning
  3. Implementation and operational control of resources, roles etc.
  4. How your organisation checks/monitors and evaluates
  5. Examination of your organisation’s management revie

OHSAS 18001 assessment process

The process of OHSAS 18001 implementation will require co-operation and input from the entire management team to develop processes across all areas of the organisation.

Some things you will need to consider:

  • Planning and establishing a framework
  • Establishing roles and responsibilities
  • Processes for hazard identification and risk assessments
  • Reporting and monitoring
  • Documentation
  • Emergency procedures
  • Measure and constantly improve processes
  • Performance reviews
  • Understanding legal obligations
  • Staff training requirements
  • Establish OHSAS checklist

Benefits of OHSAS 18001

  • Helps your organisation create the best possible working conditions for your employees
  • Identifies hazards and puts into place controls for your organisation to manage them
  • Reduces costs and downtime by reducing workplace accidents and illnesses
  • Helps your workforce become more motivated and engage better with one another as your organisation will have safer working conditions
  • Demonstrates to your stakeholders, customers and suppliers that your organisation is compliant

Growth of OHSAS 18001

At Antaris, we have found a growing demand from our client base for support in implementing OHSAS 18001. A survey carried out by the National Standards Authority of Ireland has indicated that 80% of companies believe that implementing standards directly benefits their business, with 73% of those surveyed believing companies that use standards have stronger reputations.

Employers are also increasingly under pressure to ensure that the health and safety of employees is protected against possible occupational risks and that workplace accidents are minimised. This, coupled with the fact that OHSAS 18001 is among one of the most popular standards among Irish companies currently, indicates that companies are very aware of the impact that such standards can have on their organisations.

Environmental management system , National Standards Authority of Ireland , Occupational safety and health , OHSAS , OHSAS 18001
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