OHSAS 18001 Standard : Occupational Health and Safety Management

Ensure occupational health and safety with OHSAS 18001 standard. Discover its benefits, application and transition to certification for effective risk management.

What is OHSAS 18001 standard ?

The OHSAS 18001 standard, introduced in 1999 and cancelled in 2018 in favour of the ISO 45001 standard, represents an international standard defining the criteria for the implementation of an occupational health and safety (OHS) management system. Its main purpose is to assist organizations in the identification, assessment, and management of risks associated with the health and safety of employees and stakeholders.

This standard encourages the adoption of the PDCA (Plan, Do, Verify, Act) cycle for OSH management and is compatible with the ISO 9001 standards and ISO 14001 standards, which concern quality management and environmental management respectively. It is designed to be applied by any organization, regardless of its size, sector or geographic location. Through it, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to preventing accidents, injuries and occupational diseases while meeting legal and regulatory obligations.

Based on the principle of continuous improvement, the OHSAS 18001 standard requires a periodic evaluation of the performance of the SST management system and the application of corrective and preventive actions. It also promotes the involvement and consultation of employees and stakeholders in the OSH management process.

When should you consider OHSAS 18001 ?

The OHSAS 18001 standard is designed for those seeking to implement an effective and recognized occupational health and safety (OHS) management system. It helps you establish policy, set goals and put in place procedures to reduce risk and improve your organization’s performance in this area.

It is particularly relevant for companies operating in high-risk sectors, those subject to specific legal or contractual OSH obligations, or for those wishing to distinguish themselves by highlighting their commitment to the health and safety of their employees.

Obtaining OHSAS 18001 certification, which confirms that your OHS management system meets the criteria of this standard, gives you increased recognition and credibility with your customers, suppliers, partners and authorities.

It is important to note that OHSAS 18001 has been replaced by ISO 45001 standard since September 2021. The latter is now the international reference standard for OSH. For those already OHSAS 18001 certified, a migration to ISO 45001 is required before the end of March 2024 to keep their certification active. For others, it is advisable to opt directly for ISO 45001 because of its additional benefits, which we will examine later.

What are the benefits of implementing an OHSAS 18001 compliant system ?

The adoption of the OHSAS 18001 standard offers your organization a unique opportunity to improve its performance in occupational health and safety. These benefits can be divided into three broad categories: operational, strategic and financial.

Operational benefits

The implementation of OHSAS 18001 allows you to :

  • Minimize accidents and incidents by identifying and controlling the risks associated with your activities.
  • Boost the morale and motivation of your employees, demonstrating your commitment to their well-being.
  • Strengthen the trust and satisfaction of your customers, suppliers and partners through your compliance with international standards.
  • Ensure compliance with legislation and regulations by integrating industry-specific requirements.
  • Improve your ability to manage and respond to emergencies through specific protocols and action plans.

Strategic advantages

By aligning with OHSAS 18001, you benefit from the following benefits :

  • Improve your brand image and reputation by asserting yourself as a responsible and safe organization.
  • Distinguish yourself from your competitors by gaining a significant competitive advantage.
  • Promote a commitment to continuous improvement by regularly evaluating performance and applying corrective measures.
  • Promote the active participation and consultation of your employees and stakeholders in the health and safety management process.

Financial benefits

By implementing OHSAS 18001, you can achieve significant savings :

  • Reduce expenses associated with accidents, injuries, occupational diseases and work stoppages through prevention and improvement of working conditions.
  • Reduce expenses related to fines, penalties, litigation and compensation by complying with regulations and avoiding non-compliance.
  • Reduce the cost of insurance premiums by proving your commitment to risk prevention and obtaining OHSAS 18001 certification.

Why is OHSAS 18001 considered a strategic tool for organizations ?

The OHSAS 18001 standard transcends mere compliance with legal and regulatory obligations regarding occupational health and safety. It proves to be a strategic lever, helping organizations to stand out, increase their competitiveness and improve their overall performance.

Adopting OHSAS 18001 has multiple competitive benefits, including :

  • Improving brand image and building trust with stakeholders through a commitment to the health and safety of employees and visitors.
  • The reduction of costs associated with work accidents, occupational diseases, absences due to illness, but also fines, penalties, litigation and compensation.
  • The improvement of productivity, quality and innovation, stimulated by better motivation, involvement and satisfaction of employees.
  • The opening to markets, both national and international, facilitated by the recognition and credibility conferred by the OHSAS 18001 certification.
  • Simplified integration with other management systems such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, thanks to a common structure and principles.


The OHSAS 18001 standard positions organizations as leaders in their industry, promotes customer loyalty, attracts new prospects, solidifies the corporate culture and generates considerable added value.

What are the key steps to audit and improve an OHSAS 18001 quality management system ?

Audit plays a crucial role in the analysis of the compliance and effectiveness of a Quality Management System (QMS) compliant with OHSAS 18001. It helps to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the system and suggests ways to improve. Depending on the objective, scope and origin of the auditor, there are various audits :

  • The internal audit, conducted by the company’s employees, aims to assess the QMS and verify its adequacy with the company’s objectives and policies.
  • The external audit, conducted by an independent entity, assesses the compliance of the QMS with the requirements of the OHSAS 18001 standard and may lead to a certification of compliance.
  • The third-party audit, performed by a client, supplier or partner, assesses the performance of the QMS against specific contractual requirements or agreements.


Regardless of the type of audit, the process generally follows a standard approach based on ISO 19011 guidance, with the following phases :

Audit planning

This phase involves defining the goals, scope, criteria and timing of the audit. It includes the selection of auditors, preparation of the necessary documentation, contact with the audited entity and communication of audit details.

The completion of the audit

This key moment includes :

  • The opening meeting, where the audit team is introduced, the audit plan is confirmed, and the procedures are specified.
  • The collection of evidence, which verifies the compliance and effectiveness of the QMS according to the criteria established via observation techniques, interviews, questionnaires or document review.
  • The summary of findings, which analyses the evidence to identify gaps, strengths and areas for improvement.
  • The closing meeting, where the results of the audit are discussed, the feedback from the auditee is collected and the corrective measures to be applied are agreed.

The audit report

This document must contain :

  • General information about the audit (objectives, scope, criteria, dates, auditors, audited).
  • Audit findings, including variances, strengths and opportunities for improvement, with evidence and references.
  • The audit findings, which provide an overview of the QMS’s compliance and effectiveness, and recommend whether or not to certify.
  • Corrective actions, specifying responsibilities, deadlines and methods for verifying their application.


The report must be approved by the auditors, the person responsible for the audit and shared with the stakeholders.

The follow-up of the audit

The last step verifies the application and effectiveness of the corrective measures. It allows to close the audit once the deviations are resolved, draws lessons to improve future audits.

What are the differences between OHSAS 18001 and OHSAS 18001 ?

OHSAS 18001 describes the criteria necessary to develop an occupational health and safety management system. Whereas, the OHSAS 18001 certification validates that an organization’s management system meets these criteria. Thus, the OHSAS 18001 standard and certification have separate roles, which we will clarify below.

The OHSAS 18001 standard

Originally published in 1999 and withdrawn in 2018, OHSAS 18001, replaced by ISO 45001, set standards for an effective occupational health and safety management system. This standard allowed organizations to :

  • Recognize and manage health and safety risks for employees and all stakeholders.
  • Improve the prevention of accidents and occupational diseases.
  • Comply with legal and regulatory health and safety obligations.
  • Continuously optimize health and safety management within the organization.


Applicable to all organizations, regardless of size, sector or location, OHSAS 18001 was based on the PDCA (Plan, Do, Verify, Act) cycle and compatible with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards.

The OHSAS 18001 certification

The OHSAS 18001 certification, a voluntary procedure, aimed to confirm, through an independent body, the adherence of an organization’s occupational safety and health management system to the requirements of the OHSAS 18001 standard. This certification allowed organizations to :

  • Demonstrate their dedication to occupational health and safety.
  • Gain external recognition and build credibility.
  • Distinguish themselves from their competitors and enter new markets.
  • Improve the satisfaction of their customers, suppliers and partners.


The certification process included an application, an initial audit, a certification decision, monitoring audits and a renewal audit, leading to a certificate that was valid, typically, for three years.

It is important to note that OHSAS 18001 certification has not been available since September 2021, with a mandatory transition to ISO 45001 certification before the end of March 2024. ISO 45001, the new international standard for occupational health and safety, offers additional benefits compared to OHSAS 18001, which we will discuss in the next section.

La procédure classique

Revue documentaire

Voici la liste des documents nécessaires pour l'ouverture du dossier :
Proforma ou facture finale
Fiche descriptive pour chaque code de nomenclature
Rapports de test ou certificats d'analyse pour chaque code de nomenclature
Certificat de qualité ISO 9001 ou équivalent
Déclaration d'importation à demander à votre acheteur (selon la destination)

1

Revue documentaire

Voici la liste des documents nécessaires pour l'ouverture du dossier :
Proforma ou facture finale
Fiche descriptive pour chaque code de nomenclature
Rapports de test ou certificats d'analyse pour chaque code de nomenclature
Certificat de qualité ISO 9001 ou équivalent
Déclaration d'importation à demander à votre acheteur (selon la destination)

2

Revue documentaire

Voici la liste des documents nécessaires pour l'ouverture du dossier :
Proforma ou facture finale
Fiche descriptive pour chaque code de nomenclature
Rapports de test ou certificats d'analyse pour chaque code de nomenclature
Certificat de qualité ISO 9001 ou équivalent
Déclaration d'importation à demander à votre acheteur (selon la destination)

3