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What does ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems mean to UAE health and safety law ?

ISO 45001

At Corporate OHS we work with many international companies. These companies may already have ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety in place via their overseas offices. When this is the case, an oft asked question from them is how to both replicate this in their UAE operations. And how to weave UAE compliance into the ISO framework.

Within the UAE as a whole, and also on an Emirate specific level. Health and safety is an ever tightening requirement, with laws changing and evolving. For the good of everyone. There to protect both employees and also a companies profits and reputation.

The health and safety laws in the UAE may well look very different from say, European based laws that international companies are used to seeing.

How to Keep on Top of Legislative Change

For the health and safety Manager or a person tasked with HSE responsibilities. Understanding UAE health and safety lawn and staying on top of legislation can look daunting.

Often the major challenges for companies operating in the UAE is understanding what HSE laws apply to them and their activities.

This is usually done via the development of a Legal Register. Within this document should be detailed every health and safety law, legislation and decree that is applicable to the company. It’s activities and it’s areas of operation. If the company works in more than one Emirate, then the applicable health and safety laws for each of those Emirates needs to be detailed.

Examples include the OSHJ regulatory framework for the Emirate of Sharjah (Occupational Health and Safety Sharjah) For Abu Dhabi it is the OSHAD statutory framework (Occupational Safety and Health Abu Dhabi) Dubai mainland has Dubai Municipality technical guidelines and some of the Freezones have their own legislations to follow, such as TRAKHEES.

My company is already accredited to ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, so I must be compliant with law already, right ?

In a word, nope.

ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety and Emirate specific regulatory compliance. Such as OSHAD, OSHJ or Dubai Municipality, are really quite different.

In general, unlike Emirate specific regulatory frameworks. ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety gives no guidance on how to undertake works as it has generic clauses only.


For example, let’s look to ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety versus the OSHAD statutory framework. OSHAD is very prescriptive and based on UK Health and Safety law. The framework has a defined criteria for every many activities and is scope specific. It has a strong approach towards BCM (Business Continuity Management) emergency preparedness and response. None of the above are found in ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety.


Creating systems that weave ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety and UAE regulatory compliance into one single HSE management system framework is complex work. But definitely possible if using suitably qualified and experienced personnel.

Development must be straightforward enough to ensure effective implementation. To ensure ease of usage by all staff members who would otherwise struggle with an overly complex system. Perhaps using an external expert Health and Safety Consultancy to develop and help implement your system may be beneficial.

What Happens if I Don’t Comply with Health and Safety Law ?

For Sharjah Emirates OSHJ Occupational Safety and Health Regulatory Framework, fines are yet to be declared.

Within Abu Dhabi’s OSHAD Occupational Safety and Health Regulatory Framework fines of up to 50,000 AED are levied for non-compliance.

As regards breaches of Health and Safety Federal Law, fines range from 5,000 to 1,000,000 AED, these can be multiplied by the number of employees subject to a breach up to a cap of 10,000,000 AED.

Ministry of Labour Inspectors can enter and inspect workplaces at any time without prior notice and impose any measures aimed at averting any danger or risk to employees. This may occur regardless of whether a workplace accident has occurred or not.

Furthermore, if an accident or incident occurs and an employee is hurt. The police will conduct a formal investigation during which they will ascertain if laws were followed in the lead up. Passports of any employees they consider responsible for the incident will be held, which could include Management if they are deemed responsible for not ensuring the adherence to and implementation of health and safety law. If referred to the public prosecutor and then criminal court, a minimum penalty of at least one year’s imprisonment may be imposed.

Health and Safety Consultants

If you are looking for an HSE Consultant in the UAE, Corporate OHS is a Health and Safety Consultancy services provider whose HSE Consultants offer expert resources and superior performance to give you greater results.

We specialize in creating workable, user friendly solutions aligned to your business activities, operations and budget.

Our range of health and safety consultancy services includes;

  • Health and Safety Risk Assessments
  • Hazard identification and control measure implementation
  • Gap Analysis
  • Audits and compliance audits
  • HSE management system development, implementation and review including locally compliant systems such as OSHAD or OSHJ and/or accredited systems such as ISO 45001, ISO 14001, ISO 9001 and ISO 50001
  • HSE legal compliance reviews and assistance
  • Accident investigations
  • Business continuity and crisis management
  • Long term or project based HSE outsourcing
  • Flexible monthly support retainers giving access to HSE service without the burden of a permanent cost

To find out more about our services, please visit our website or send an email to, or call 00 971 4 550 7862.

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