ISO 45003 VS ISO 45001: What You Need To Know

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ISO 45003 VS ISO 45001: What You Need To Know

ISO 45003 and ISO 45001 are designed to help organisations manage and enhance workplace health and safety. This article will examine these standards, exploring their similarities, differences, and potential business implications.

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ISO 45003 and ISO 45001: An Overview

ISO 45003 and ISO 45001 are part of the ISO 45000 family of standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ISO 45001, published in 2018, is the world’s first International Standard for occupational health and safety management systems. In 2021, ISO 45003 was introduced as the first global standard to address psychosocial risks in the workplace specifically.

ISO 45001

ISO 45001:2018 is a standard that provides guidelines for organisations to establish, implement and maintain an occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system. It is designed to improve employee safety, reduce workplace risks and create better, safer working conditions by following a structured approach.

ISO 45003

ISO 45003:2021 offers guidance on managing psychological health and safety risks within an OH&S management system. This standard recognises that the workplace can have significant impacts on an employee’s psychological health and prompts employers to take responsibility for protecting both the physical and psychosocial health of their staff.

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ISO 45001 vs ISO 45003

While both ISO 45001 and ISO 45003 contribute to the broader field of occupational health and safety, some key aspects differentiate these two standards.

While both ISO 45001 and ISO 45003 contribute to the broader field of occupational health and safety, some key aspects differentiate these two standards.


  • Both standards adhere to the ‘Plan-Do-Check-Act’ management system principles and underscore the importance of leadership commitment, risk management, role clarity, resource allocation, and strategic planning.
  • They offer guidance on competency, change management, procurement, monitoring methods, response mechanisms, and reviews.


  • ISO 45001 puts an equal emphasis on workplace health and safety, providing a robust framework for managing the broad spectrum of health and safety risks in the workplace.
  • Unlike ISO 45001, ISO 45003 provides specific guidance on psychosocial risk management. It helps organisations identify workplace conditions, circumstances, and demands that could potentially harm workers’ psychological health and well-being. The standard also allows organisations to identify human and organisational factors, assess them, and take actions to improve the working environment.
  • ISO 45003 also offers guidance on identifying and controlling work-related psychosocial hazards and managing psychosocial risk within an OH&S management system.

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Implementing ISO 45003

Work-related psychosocial hazards are often invisible, making them harder to manage. Here are a few recommendations for implementing ISO 45003:

  • Normalise psychosocial risk: Encourage open and honest discussions about mental health in the workplace.
  • Use evidence-based research: Utilise scientifically validated surveys to assess psychosocial risks.
  • Conduct focus groups: Facilitate group discussions led by expert facilitators to gather insights.
  • Evaluate performance: Regularly assess your organisation’s performance to identify trends and risk factors.

TIP: A trained ISO 45003 consultant can help you develop and implement workplace mental health strategies and provide specific psychosocial risk guidance.

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Do I need both ISO 45001 and ISO 45003?

Integrating both ISO 45001 and ISO 45003 can be highly beneficial for organisations looking to ensure comprehensive occupational health and safety management. Here’s why combining these standards can be advantageous:

Comprehensive Risk Management

Physical and Psychological Risks: ISO 45001 focuses on occupational health & safety, providing a framework for managing physical risks, while ISO 45003 offers guidance on managing psychosocial risks. By combining these standards, organisations can identify and control both physical and psychological risks to staff, creating a safer and healthier workplace environment 1.

Integrated Management System

Efficiency and Improvement: Integrating ISO 45001 and ISO 45003 creates a single documented and managed system, facilitating a more straightforward implementation of changes and improvements. This unified approach can help minimise potential adverse impacts, ensuring a continuous cycle of planning, doing, checking, and acting for excellence.

Compliance and Wellbeing

Workplace Wellbeing: The connection between ISO 45003 and ISO 45001 means that organisations aiming for comprehensive compliance need to address not just the physical health and safety requirements of ISO 45001 but also the psychosocial aspects outlined in ISO 45003. Not adhering to ISO 45003 could impact ISO 45001 accreditation, underscoring the importance of integrating both standards for complete compliance and enhanced workplace wellbeing.

Financial and Moral Benefits

Return on Investment: There are significant benefits, including a financial return on investment for every pound invested into workplace wellbeing, highlighting the practicality and moral imperative of adopting both standards. Organisations have seen that investing in workplace psychosocial health, as recommended by ISO 45003, not only complies with ISO 45001 but also promotes a healthier, happier, and safer workplace.

Compliance Without Certification

Guidance Over Certification: It’s important to note that while ISO 45003 provides valuable guidance for managing psychosocial risks and complements ISO 45001, it does not offer a certification. Its recommendations are intended to supplement existing programs and help staff more effectively. Following ISO 45003 brings organisations closer to compliance with ISO 45001 Certification, emphasising the synergy between the two.


Which sectors can benefit from ISO 45001 and ISO 45003 compliance?

ISO 45003 provides guidelines for managing psychosocial risks within an occupational health and safety management system. It applies to organisations of all sizes and sectors, aiming to improve employee well-being and productivity by addressing factors that can cause stress and poor mental health at work. Here is how various businesses could benefit from ISO 45003 compliance:

1. Healthcare Sector

High-Stress Environment: Healthcare workers often face high-pressure situations, long hours, and emotional stress. Implementing ISO 45003 can help manage these psychosocial risks, leading to improved mental health, job satisfaction, and reduced absenteeism among healthcare professionals.

2. IT and Technology Firms

Rapid Change and High Demand: The fast-paced nature of the tech industry, tight project deadlines and the need for continuous learning can be stressful. ISO 45003 can guide these firms in creating a supportive work environment that mitigates stress and enhances innovation.

3. Finance and Banking

High Responsibility and Regulatory Demands: Employees in the finance sector often deal with high-stakes transactions and regulatory compliance, which can lead to stress and burnout. Compliance with ISO 45003 can help in identifying and managing these psychosocial risks.

4. Education

Workload and Emotional Strain: Educators and administrative staff face challenges such as workload pressures, performance expectations, and dealing with students’ emotional and educational needs. ISO 45003 can assist educational institutions in creating healthier workplaces, benefiting both staff and students.

5. Construction, Mining and Manufacturing

Safety and Operational Pressures: Although traditionally focused on physical safety, these sectors are recognising the importance of mental health. Implementing ISO 45003 can help address stress related to safety concerns, operational pressures, and the often demanding physical work environment.

6. Retail and Hospitality

Customer Service and Irregular Hours: Employees in these sectors often face long hours, irregular shifts, and the pressure of maintaining high levels of customer service. ISO 45003 guidelines can help manage the unique psychosocial risks in these environments, improving employee satisfaction and customer service.

7. Remote Work Environments

Isolation and Work-Life Balance: Organisations with many remote workers face challenges in maintaining team cohesion and ensuring work-life balance. ISO 45003 provides a framework for addressing these psychosocial risks, promoting a healthy and productive remote work culture.

Virtually any business can benefit from ISO 45003 compliance, especially those in high-stress industries or work environments with significant psychosocial risks. By focusing on creating a positive mental health culture, organisations can improve compliance, reduce risks and enhance employee engagement, productivity, and retention, leading to overall business success.

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Achieve ISO 45003 and ISO 45001 compliance with BusinessBasics

Adopting both ISO 45001 and ISO 45003 is not only about compliance but also about taking a holistic approach to occupational health and safety. This integrated management system ensures that both physical and psychosocial risks are managed effectively, leading to a healthier, safer, and more productive workplace. While ISO 45003 does not provide certification, its integration with ISO 45001 strengthens an organisation’s commitment to comprehensive health and safety management.

Our team of dedicated ISO health and safety management consultants is here to guide you through every step of becoming ISO 45001 and ISO 45003 compliant. At BusinessBasics, we understand your organisation’s unique challenges and offer personalised solutions to meet and exceed these international standards.

Contact BusinessBasics today, and let’s discuss how we can help your organisation prioritise psychological and physical health and become a leader in occupational health and safety. Our team is ready to assist you in meeting international standards and creating a work environment where safety and well-being are at the forefront.