Understanding the Positive Impact of ISO 45001

Understanding the Positive Impact of ISO 45001

Published July 28, 2023

3 minute read

Since its release in 2018, ISO 45001 certification has been awarded to nearly 300,000 organisations worldwide, across just under 400,000 work sites. 

Despite these promising figures, opening up your business to an intense certification process can still be a bit of a hard sell. The standard itself is based on other ISO management systems, and depending on your level of familiarity with these, you might require outside help. 

In order to justify the time and resource investment, it’s good to start with an understanding of the positive impact certification can have. 

 In this webinar, HSEQ Manager Adel Lawson took a look at some of the claimed benefits of ISO 45001 and what wide-ranging effects they can have for businesses. 

Why a Global Standard Matters

As shown in the webinar, the continuing impact of workplace incidents globally shows a need for a consolidated approach to safety management:

  • 2.3 million people killed by workplace accidents and disease 
  • 7,600 deaths per day 
  • 313 million non-fatal work accidents 
  • 160 million people with occupational diseases 
  • An impact of 4% on world GDP 

The International Labour Organisation, 2018 

Up until the release of ISO 45001, health and safety management systems were developed and implemented piecemeal, on a national or local level. The most well-known of these, OHSAS 18001 had widespread adoption but fundamental differences from the current ISO 45001. In addition, OHSAS 18001 was not agreed upon internationally. 

In an increasingly globalised world, there needed to be a recognised standard that could provide a benchmark for safety performance. Coupled with rising safety costs, businesses with multinational locations need to be able to show compliance across all locations. 

If implemented correctly, ISO 45001 provides a means of achieving this. 

Find out how we've helped others along their ISO 45001 certification journey in the following guide. 

Benefits and pitfalls of ISO 45001 accreditation guide

The Structure of ISO 45001

As stated above, ISO 45001’s structure follows those of other standards including ISO 9001, 14001 and OHSAS 18001. In turn these are based on the Deming PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) cycle. This cycle is intended to promote continuous improvement. The image below illustrates the overall structure: 

Pillar 2 - SMS - Blog - ISO 45001 Structure


This is expanded upon in the following clip (apologies for the audio):

As pointed out in the webinar, the similarity between the ISO standards facilitates an organisation reaching their Safety, Quality and Environmental goals more easily, rather than beginning an entirely new process for each concern. 

What Can ISO 45001 Certification Do For My Business?

This is the main question that many will have. If not legally required to do so, what would compel a business to begin the certification process? Is the current way of managing health and safety not enough? 

As Adel points points out in the webinar, certification is not a magic bullet: 

“(Simply because) you’re a 45001 company…does not mean that you are going to have a safe environment at your workplace or organisation. However, it does provide important processes that make sure you can manage that within your workplace.” 

Adel Lawson, HSEQ Manager 

What ISO 45001 certification can do is enable you to take an internationally approved, best practice approach to health and safety management. 

Here are a selection of benefits your business can glean: 

1. Satisfies demands from current or prospective customers for registration

While ISO 45001 is not a mandatory in itself, some countries may decide to make it a legal requirement (such as Qatar). Similarly, many clients will have it (or other safety management systems) as a must-have when hiring contractors. 

If you are a service provider, having ISO 45001 certification can be highly beneficial during the tendering/contractor selection process. It denotes your business as complying with high internal and external standards, and can be an indication of overall credibility. 

two workers in blue suits and yellow constructions hats walking outside near large pumps

2. Improves overall business performance

The ISO 45001 certification process looks at much more than an organisations health and safety function. According to Adel it takes into account procurement, management of contractors, communication, organisational leadership and worker participation. 

Good communication benefits more than just safety. It can have a positive impact on productivity and the bottom line. Employee consultation and an emphasis on training improves morale and confidence in senior management. 

This emphasis on integrating occupational health and safety with the rest of the business leads to less siloing, and the ISO approach gives solid KPI’s to measure performance against. 

3. Minimising risk

Perhaps the most important reason for pursuing an ISO 45001 certification is minimising risk. ISO 45001 takes a risk-based approach to safety management and is proactive instead of reactive, unlike earlier iterations which primarily focused on controlling hazards. 

Reducing workplace injury and death is the primary concern of any health and safety management system. Its worth noting that expansions such as 1SO 45003 also include mitigating psychosocial risk. 

ISO 45001 requires rigourous and frequent internal audits and reviews and provides a framework for measuring safety KPI’s. Crucially, it also places emphasis on corrective actions and continuous improvement, gaining certification is not the end of the journey. 

“It all depends on the competence of the personnel working within the business. It all depends on the bottom line of making sure processes are fully applied.” 

Adel Lawson, HSEQ Manager 

Making Certification Work For Your Business

This blog has taken but a brief look at the impact that ISO 45001 is having on businesses. More time will have to pass for further empirical evidence to become available beyond adoption numbers. Despite this, in just 5 years since being published, its already greatly affected the way health and safety management systems are structured and implemented, whether businesses choose to pursue official recognition or not. 

EcoOnline has experience working with numerous businesses on their certification journey. Read about their experiences in our guide below.

Benefits and pitfalls of ISO 45001 accreditation guide


Author Laura Fitzgerald

Laura Fitzgerald is a Content Marketing Manager with EcoOnline. She has been writing about health and safety topics since 2017, with a focus on the areas of improving employee safety engagement and EHS legislation.

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