• Andrew Thornhill

How does the introduction of ISO 45001 affect our organisation? (AS 4801)

Welcome to another blog, in this one we’re going to have a look at How does the introduction of ISO 45001 affect our organisation?’


Particularly if we have a management system built around the old Australia / New Zealand Standard for safety management systems, 4801.


Whether we are certified, or just have system based on AS/NZS 4801 - what’s happening with this new standard?



ISO 45001 has been released in about May 2018. It has now been officially adopted by Standards Australia. Interestingly though, and there are reasons behind this, they haven’t yet officially withdrawn or announced a migration period for the old standard, 4801.


There are laws in some states that reference the Australian Standard, 4801, and regulators have no particular motivation to withdraw that reference. If and when they do, yes, they will make an announcement and there is always a migration or transition period to allow you to move across to the new ISO standard.


You may choose to make that transition before the announcement. Some of the reasons for doing so is obviously if you have a management system built around any other ISO management system standard (such as food safety, quality or environmental), then ISO 45001 has exactly the same structure as those standards. This means your ability to integrate it is definitely a big opportunity.


If you look at our Resources page, we’ve got a full summary of what’s actually changed between the 2 standards? Rather than write them all up, we just focus on one, and how we could actually transition to the new standard.


If you have a safety system based on the old standard, you don’t have to throw that out and start again by any means. ISO made it quite clear that they were basing this standard and drawing on good practice from existing standards.

To extend that, if you pick up ISO 45001, there’s a smaller number of what I would call new requirements’ - where there’s no stand-alone equivalent under 4801. There’s a range of other requirements where there’s an equivalent under 4801, but there might have been some slight modification (modified requirements).


The process in the approach I take you through in the video will help with both of these cases.


Let’s take an example of one of the newer requirements, where there is no real equivalent for 4.1 (understanding the organisation and its context) under the new standard, verses 4801. I’ll just draw it up a step before we look at this;


  1. We are going to need to take the step of understanding the changes and what’s been modified.

  2. Educate your leadership team because particularly around leadership, there is some extended responsibilities.

  3. Use a gap analysis. This is a very simple tool we often use with customers to understand if there are any internal or external issues that may impact performance.


For example…

If there’s a new requirement – let’s use 4.1 from this standard here (understanding the organisation and its context) – you can basically conduct a gap analysis, which is essentially an audit.


In doing this, we take that new requirement and we put a series of questions into a checklist about that. The crux of 4.1 is saying “are there any internal or external issues that could affect our intended performance of the safety system?” Then as a checklist question, we could reflect that by asking “have internal and external issues been identified?”


A really good approach here is to not assume that you’ve got no business or safety processes that might be contributing to meeting that (Clause 4.1). You don’t have to start from scratch.

So, in a gap analysis, you can plot out what you have in place that contributes to meeting that requirement. And as a second question there, ask “Are there any gaps? Is there anything missing? Is there anything we need to take further action on to fully meet that particular new requirement?”


Do the same with the modified requirements.


Using a very simple example: Where actions are required, you can simply turn the rest into an action plan. Figure out when you are going to address it and who’s going to do so.


To help you transition you can find the following download on our Resources page:

  • A summary of documented information under ISO 45001.

  • An AS/NZS 4801 to ISO 45001 Gap Analysis Checklist.

  • A summary of New and Modified Clauses in ISO 45001 compared to AS/NZS 4801.

Thanks for listening. In our next blog, we are going to come back and look at ‘What recurrent events, as an organisation do I need to complete under ISO 45001?’


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