ISO 14001 vs OHSAS 18001January 31st, 2023 By Amywright
Understanding the standards to implement in your workplace can be difficult – there are many standards that can appear to cover similar ground, and ensuring that your business pursues certification with standards that are aligned with business goals and values is crucial. This particular example concerns ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001. ISO 14001 is specifically the criteria for a robust environmental management system that reduces a firm’s negative impact on the environment, while OHSAS 18001 is an obsolete standard about occupational health and safety, affecting both management and workers.
OHSAS 18001 was superseded by ISO 45001 in 2018, which covers much of the same functionality and intends to protect both physical and mental health among employees. The deadline for organisations transitioning to ISO 45001 was in September 2021, but there could still be some companies unaware of this change or otherwise considering the differences between these standards. By knowing the main differences between ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001, and ISO 45001, you can develop a stronger understanding of how strong workplace standards help your business.
What are the differences between ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001?
ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 are both standards which involve creating a safe working environment, and this is an essential priority for virtually any workplace. The main difference between them is that ISO 14001 relates to environmental practices, while OHSAS 18001 is about general health and safety performance. Another notable distinction is that ISO 14001 is still in use, with many companies across the world adopting its 2015 update as a mark of their devotion to the environment.
In contrast, OHSAS 18001 is not currently a recognised health and safety standard – as ISO 45001 effectively replaced it in 2018. This started a 42-month transitional period, where businesses have an opportunity to alter their practices and processes, accordingly to accommodate these new criteria. The OHSAS 18001 criteria and purpose are still worth knowing, especially in terms of how it differs from other standards of its time, as many of these differences still exist in the context of ISO 45001.
A key difference in how these standards apply is the way they analyse a company. ISO 14001 looks through the lens of aspect/impact, which is especially helpful for an environmental standard – as this lets a company define each environmental ‘aspect’ of their business, including leaks, emissions, and resource consumption. The other half of this analysis looks at the ‘impact’ that these aspects have, including an increase in greenhouse gases, or soil contamination.
OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001 take a different approach, instead investigating hazards and risks, which they aim to reduce with a 5-step hierarchical plan. They deal with risks either by eliminating the hazard, substituting the hazard for a less-risky equivalent, implementing engineering controls, placing signs, or necessitating the use of PPE. It’s essential that businesses work to use the highest protective measure possible to ensure a strong level of safety across every possible hazard.
Though they have a similar focus, there are various differences between OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001 worth noting. The change from OHSAS to ISO necessitates a different structure, for example, and shifts more responsibility onto the firm’s executives. ISO 45001 identifies hazards more proactively and pre-emptively but also showcases opportunities that the company can pursue to improve their health and safety. The new standard’s broader scope also looks at how the business and its workplace interact dynamically.
Correspondence between ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001
ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and OHSAS 18001/ISO 45001 have significant similarities which help them work in conjunction with one another, so businesses could benefit from implementing all three of these standards. ISO 9001 is the criteria for a quality management system; effectively a checklist showing that the business meets the needs of both their customers and stakeholders, with measures in place to continuously improve on this. Together, these standards let an organisation enhance their quality, environmental impact, and general health and safety.
Part of what allows ISO 9001 to blend with these other standards is its overall structure, which especially helps it align with ISO 14001. They both involve creating and documenting coherent management policies while taking action to prevent or correct problems within the workplace, and placing an emphasis on continuous improvement. With a significant amount of crossover between the two standards, gaining certification in both may save on time and documentation.
ISO 9001 can also combine well with ISO 45001, since their mutual ISO classification enforces the same clear and consistent structure. It’s paramount that any company works to balance their commitment to quality with a commitment to health and safety – allowing you to combine these as an integrated management system. When combining further with ISO 14001, you gain a holistic view of the entire company and the incremental steps needed to improve it.
There are various benefits that come with implementing an IMS that adheres to these three standards, as each of these individual systems relates to an important business area and often intersects. For example, a company’s poor approach to environmental concerns could adversely affect the quality of its product or the satisfaction of its stakeholders. Substandard work environments might also have a negative impact on employee health, and health issues among staff may lead to a fall in quality.
Strong standards in health and safety, quality management are critical for any business to implement and follow, but this is especially helpful when they work in tandem with each other. for more on these standards, get started and download your guide to becoming ISO 14001 or ISO 45001 certified.
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