The international standard for Occupational Health and Safety (OHSAS) has been replaced with SANS/ISO 45001: Occupational Health and Safety Management System Standard.

Image credit: The Compliance and Ethics Blog

Image credit: The Compliance and Ethics Blog

In a recent webinar hosted by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), clients and interested parties were given an overview of the changes and the deadline to migrate from OHSAS 18001 to SANS/ISO 45001.

All organisations that are certified to OHSAS 18001, will have to migrate to ISO 45001 by September 2021. The deadline was initially set by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) for March 2021 and has been extended to September 2021 because of the delays experienced worldwide due to Covid-19.

“SANS/ISO 45001 is crucial for all organisations in South Africa as it provides the framework, processes and system for the management of all workplace hazards, health issues and incidents. The effective implementation of the performance-based standard will reduce the number of fatalities and injuries in the workplace, and promote a healthier and happier workforce,” says Sadhvir Bissoon, Standards Executive at the SABS.

Globally, 2.7 million workers die in workplaces and non-fatal work-related injuries/illnesses are approximated at 340 million each year by the International Labour Organisation. The new SANS/ISO 45001 is more comprehensive that the previous OHSAS standard and requires involvement by the whole organisation.

Key Differences between SANS/ISO 45001 and OHSAS 18001
SANS/ISO 45001 OHSAS 18001
Structure Framework is easier to integrate with other management systems Framework can be used as a standalone system
Management commitment Management/leadership of the organisation has more responsibility to implement OH&S OH&S management could implement the system
Employee involvement Enables broader employee participation Top down approach
Risk approach Follows a preventative approach Focuses on hazard control

“While SANS/ISO 45001 is a voluntary standard, there are some references to the standard included in regulations that have been developed by the Department of Labour.

Organisations that are certified to OHSAS 18001 should be aware that their certification will no longer be valid by September 2021. It is important to note that this standard does not replace regulatory requirements, however an implementation of the management system will enable an organisation to meet most regulations relevant to occupational health and safety,” advises Bissoon.

SABS is assisting their certification clients to ensure that the migration process is smooth and that the deadline for migration is achieved. Training interventions to help prepare South African companies to meet the deadline will continue. More information is available on