OHSAS 18001 (officially "BS OHSAS 18001:2007") is an internationally applied British Standard for occupational health and safety management systems. It exists to help all kinds of organizations put in place demonstrably sound occupational health and safety performance. It is a widely recognized and popular occupational health and safety management system.
Organizations worldwide recognize the need to control and improve health and safety performance and do so with occupational health and safety management systems (OHSMS). However before 1999 there was an increase of national standards and proprietary certification schemes to choose from. This caused confusion and fragmentation in the market and undermined the credibility of individual schemes.
Recognizing this deficit, an international collaboration called The Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) Project Group was formed to create a single unified approach. The Group comprised representatives from National standards bodies, academic bodies, accreditation bodies, certification bodies and occupational safety and health institutions, with the UK’s national standards body, BSI Group, providing the secretariat.
Drawing on the best of existing standards and schemes, the OHSAS Project Group published the OHSAS 18000 Series in 1999. The Series consisted of two specifications: 18001 provided requirements for an OHS management system and 18002 gave implementation guidelines. As of 2005, around 16,000 organizations in more than 80 countries were using the OHSAS 18001 specification. By 2009 more than 54,000 certificates had been issued in 116 countries to OHSAS or equivalent OHSMS standards.
Its supporters claim that an occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS) promotes a safe and healthy working environment by providing a framework that helps organizations to:
- Identify and control health and safety risks
- Reduce the potential for accidents
- Aid legal compliance
- Improve overall performance
The OHSAS 18000 standards provide organizations with the elements of an effective safety management system which can be integrated with other management systems and help organizations achieve better occupational health and safety performance and economic objectives.
BS OHSAS 18001 specifies requirements for an OH&S management system to help an organization develop and implement a policy and objectives, which take into account legal requirements and information about OH&S risks. It applies to all types and sizes of organizations and accommodates diverse geographical, cultural and social conditions.
BS OHSAS 18002 provides guidance for establishing, implementing or improving a management system which is based on OHSAS 18001 and demonstrating successful implementation of OHSAS 18001.
OHSAS 18001 can be aligned with existing ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 management systems. Historically many organizations start with the quality management system ISO 9001, then add the environment management requirements from ISO 14001.