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Understanding the Difference Between ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001

10 March 2015
Although there are many similarities between ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007, there are two areas where the standards are distinctly different.

Although there are many similarities between ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001, there are two areas where the standards are distinctly different.

A safety management system that conforms to 18001:2007 requires an organization to conduct a hazard/risk analysis (14001:2004 requires an aspect/impact analysis) and to determine appropriate controls. Unlike the aspect/impact analysis, the 18001 standard requires risk reduction considerations according to a 5 step hierarchy-elimination, substitution, engineering controls, signage/warnings and/or administrative controls and lastly personal protective equipment.

It is important to understand that the intent is to reduce risks utilizing the highest measure in the hierarchy where possible and not to simply use PPE in all cases. Perhaps a combination of engineering controls and PPE would be warranted. In each risk reduction analysis careful consideration should be given to the best option available to the organization.

A second major difference between the ISO 14001 requirements and the OHSAS 18001 requirements is the need for organizations to ensure employee participation in specific areas of the management system. Involvement should include participation in the hazard/risk and determining controls process, incident investigations, and development and review of policies and objectives.

In addition, Employees (workers) must be consulted on any changes that affect their OH&S as well as representation on OH&S matters. Additionally, consultation with contractors is required where changes that affect their OH&S. And finally, it is important to note that the standard points out that the OH&S belongs to the workers and/or the contractors.

For any questions concerning ISO 14001 or OHSAS 18001, contact NQA’s EH&S Business Unit Manager at (978) 635-9256.