OHSAS 18001 2007 Plain English Introduction

OHSAS 18001  is now OBSOLETE. Please see Introduction to ISO 45001.


OHSAS 18001 2007 is an occupational health and safety management
standard. It defines a set of occupational health and safety (OH&S)
management requirements for occupational health and safety
management systems (OHSMS)

It was developed by the OHSAS Project Group, a consortium of 43
organizations from 28 countries. This consortium includes national
standards bodies, registrars (certification bodies), consultants, and
occupational health and safety institutes.

This new OHSAS 18001 2007 standard was officially published during
July of 2007. It cancels and replaces OHSAS 18001 1999. Since it was
first published in 1999, OHSAS 18001 has rapidly become the most
widely used international occupational health and safety management
standard. It applies to all types of organizations. It doesnít matter what
size they are or what they do.

The purpose of OHSAS 18001 is to help organizations to manage
and control their occupational health and safety risks and to improve
their occupational health and safety performance. They can achieve this
purpose by developing an occupational health and safety management
system (OHSMS) that complies with the standard.

An OHSMS is a network of interrelated elements. These elements
include responsibilities, authorities, relationships, functions, activities,
processes, practices, procedures, and resources. These elements are
used to establish OH&S policies, plans, programs, and objectives.


If you donít already have an occupational health and safety
management system (OHSMS), you can use this OHSAS 18001
standard to establish one. And once youíve established your
organizationís OHSMS, you can use it to manage and control
your OH&S risks and to improve your OH&S performance.

OHSAS 18001 expects organizations to comply with all of the
requirements that make up the standard. According to the standard,
your OHSMS must comply with every occupational health and safety
management requirement (Part 4 of the standard).

However, the size and complexity of OHSMSs vary quite a bit.
How far you go is up to you. The size and complexity of your
OHSMS, the extent of your documentation, and the resources
allocated to your system will depend on many things. How you
meet each of these requirements, and to what extent, depends 
on many factors, including:

  1. The size of your organization
  2. The location of your organization
  3. The nature of your organizationís culture
  4. The nature of your organizationís activities
  5. The nature of your organizationís legal obligations
  6. The nature and scope of your organizationís OHSMS
  7. The content of your organizationís OH&S policy
  8. The nature of your organizationís OH&S hazards
  9. The nature of your organizationís OH&S risks

OHSAS 18001 is designed to be used for certification (registration)
purposes. However, it does not require certification. You can be
in compliance without being formally certified (registered). You can
self-assess (self audit) your OHSMS and simply declare that it
complies with the standard (if it actually does).

If you wish to become certified, you need to ask a registrar to
audit your OHSMS. If your system complies with the standard,
your registrar will issue a Certificate that you can use to formally
announce that your OHSMS is compliant.


OHSAS 18001 uses what is called the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA)
methodology. It uses this methodology to organize the standard
and you can use it to establish your OHSMS.

The PDCA methodology is used to organize
OHSAS 18001 in the following way:

  1. PLAN. Parts 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3 expect you
    to plan the establishment of your OHSMS.

  2. DO. Part 4.4 expects you to implement your OHSMS.

  3. CHECK. Parts 4.5 and 4.6 expect you to monitor,
    measure, and report on the performance of your OHSMS.

  4. ACT. Parts 4.5 and 4.6 expect you to improve your OHSMS.

You can also use a PDCA approach to help you establish your
organizationís OHSMS. By taking the following 4 steps you will
be using a PDCA approach:

  1. PLAN. Plan your OHSMS.

  2. DO. Establish your OHSMS.

  3. CHECK. Evaluate your OHSMS.

  4. ACT. Improve your OHSMS.

OHSAS 18001 is now OBSOLETE. See ISO 45001 2018.


Plain English Occupational Health and Safety Definitions

Occupational Health and Safety Translated into Plain English

Occupational Health and Safety System Development Plan

Occupational Health and Safety Gap Analysis Tool

Occupational Health and Safety Audit Program

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Updated on August 29, 2019. First published on January 30, 2008.

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