What is the difference between AS/NZS4801 & OHSAS18001?

When deciding to seek certification of your organisation’s safety management system there are currently two options – OHSAS 18001 or AS/NZ 4801. There is not much difference between these two standards, and their aims are largely the same. Below I will explore some of the key differences between these two standards.

OHSAS 18001 is the international standard for Safety Management Systems, while AS/NZ 4801 is specific for Australia and New Zealand on Safety Management Systems. In broad terms, health is a key area in OHSAS18001 certification requirements whilst AS/NZS4801 focuses more on the elimination of workplace injury however, both standards are ultimately concerned with providing injury and illness free workplaces.

OHSAS 18001 was developed by a group of leading certification bodies from an existing British standard, while AS/NZS 4801 was developed by the Australian and New Zealand standards associations. There are many similarities between the two, and an understanding of one gives a fair understanding of the other.

Conceptually, the difference between the two standards is that AS/NZS 4801 refers to the elimination of work-related injury, while OHSAS 18001 commits to the prevention of injury and ill health within the described scope of the management system. Health is a key focus in OHSAS 18001 and elimination of injury is pivotal in AS/NZS 4801, however in both cases, the goal is for an injury and illness free work environment. There are differing requirements in each standard for the areas of the standards, which require documented procedures and records; however these areas are clearly stated in each standard.

OHSAS 18001 more clearly defines the roles of evaluation and compliance, incident investigation, nonconformity, and corrective and preventive action, and management review, however requirements in each of these areas is still stipulated within AS/NZS 4801. AS/NZS 4801 has a more defined process for reporting, health assessment, and evaluation of the HIRAC (Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Control) process, and while these are implied in OHSAS 18001, they are not specifically defined. OHSAS 18001 has a strong demand on legal requirements, and while AS/NZS 4801 does not appear to have as strong a demand, many of the requirements in OHSAS 18001 are required regardless of certification due to Federal and State legislative requirements.

Typically, companies which operate solely within Australia and New Zealand opt to become certified against AS/NZS 4801:2001, while companies which operate internationally aim for certification under OHSAS 18001:2007.

Both standards align well with other Management Systems standards, such as ISO 9001:2008 (Quality management systems) and ISO 14001:2004 (Environmental management systems).

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