Transition from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001- Detailed Actions Steps to take for a successful transition

Transition from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001- Detailed Actions Steps to take for a successful transition

OSHAS 18001, a management system standard, produced by International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and used to manage occupational health and safety risk in a workplace, was first released in 2000 and updated in 2007. This standard -OHSAS 18001 – was replaced with ISO 45001 :2018 Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS)Standard in March 2018.

The implication is that organizations which built their occupational health and safety management system based on OHSAS 18001 standard and have previously obtained certification to OHSAS 18001 will have to transit to ISO 45001 :2018 standard requirements on or before March 2021 otherwise OHSAS 18001 credential of the organizations becomes invalid and unacceptable in a marketplace.

The process of transition can therefore start now. It will take some months of rigorous work across the organization. It also presents the organization an opportunity to clinically manage change within its occupational health and safety management system. The Coordinator of the OHSAS 18001 Management System, usually HSE Managers in some organizations, will have to initiate appropriate actions that will lead to successful transition.

Below are guidance steps that should be taken to record a successful transition from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001:

  • Train key workers on ISO 45001 OHSMS standard requirements
  • Conduct gap assessment of the management system and address changes across all areas within scope.
  • Elaborate documented information on the new requirements to address context of the organization, interested parties and their requirements, hazard identification and assessment processes etc. More so, review existing documents, procedures, programmes for adequacy and suitability
  • Leadership commitment is necessary. Top management must demonstrate commitment and directs culture that eliminate hazards and reduce OH & S risk within its enterprise.
  • Re-examine compliance requirements and obligation
  • Review the scope of the occupational health and safety management system for suitability
  • Engage workers at all levels. Ensure barriers to participations of workers at strategic, tactical and operational levels are broken. Ensure workers are involved in identification of hazards and proposing controls.
  • Review the Occupational health and safety policy and other policies for adequacy
  • Develop communication and awareness processes. Elaborate communication and awareness programmes with measurable objectives
  • Set and update OH & S objectives at levels including those that must be met by external service providers
  • Ensure you include outsourcing and procurement processes within the scope of your OHSMS
  • Review effectiveness of operational controls and apply new controls as may be necessary. In addition, adopt live saving rules and deepen the use as may be necessary across all activities’ areas of the organization.
  • Carry out constant evaluation of the performance of the OH & S management system, extract leading and lagging indicators. Hold regular meetings, drills and other review sessions
  • Conduct internal audit and management reviews as planned
  • Develop implementable improvement programmes
  • Communicate. Communicate!

Olumide Ajibawo

Member, Institute of Safety Professional of Nigeria (ISPON)

OHSAS 18001 Lead Auditor, ISO 45001 Lead Implementer & Lead Auditor

Certification Bodies Audit Team Leader

PECB Certified Trainer & Management System Auditor

Senior Member, American Society for Quality (ASQ)


Olumide Ajibawo has supported organizations in the Oil & Gas Sector, Construction & Engineering Companies and Financial Institutions in Nigeria in implementing OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management System in Nigeria.

For further information on support for your projects, email:

1 thought on “Transition from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001- Detailed Actions Steps to take for a successful transition”

  • 1
    Bamiro Abimbola O. on July 16, 2019 Reply

    This piece is an eye opener, coming from the expert.. Thank you Olumide Ajibawo.

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