ASSE Pushes for Improvement in EHS Training

Without recognizing a need for improvement in safety, health and\r\nenvironmental training, safety in the workplace will be at risk, according to two ASSE ANSI Z490 committee members.

Without recognizing a need for improvement in safety, health and environmental training, safety in the workplace will be at risk, Steven Kane, CSP and Thomas Bresnahan, CSP, told the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) at its September meeting in Washington, D.C.

During the joint presentation to NACOSH on the use of the proposed voluntary American National Standard (ANSI) Z490-Criteria for Accepted Practices in Safety, Health and Environmental Training, Kane, Z490 committee chairman, and Bresnahan, ASSE deputy executive director and secretary of the Z490 committee, said that quality training is required to ensure that workers and safety, health and environmental professionals have the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to protect themselves and others in the workplace while recognizing that OSHA needs to address such concerns.

"OSHA itself has continued to wrestle with training issues on both an internal and external basis for many years," said Bresnahan. "This includes everything from training requirements for specific standards to the potential accreditation of specific training programs. The Z490 Committee has taken the position that safety, health and environmental training is an important element of an effective and efficient overall safety, health and environmental program."

ASSE has participated in the development of national consensus safety standards by serving as the secretariat for eight standards committees and by serving on 40 other safety standards committees.

Kane explained that the Z490 standard would establish the criteria for best practices for the field of EHS training, including:

  • core competencies,
  • instructor credentials,
  • organizational responsibilities/controls,
  • awarding credit,
  • model ciriculums,
  • records maintenance,
  • and facilities/learning support resources.

But it is not limited to instruction, competency methodologies, learning assessments, learning outcomes and measurement.

Portions of Kane and Bresnahan''s presentation addressed how the proposed standard could impact federal agencies such as OSHA.

"I believe NACOSH''s main question concerning this standard is how does it impact OSHA and the training of compliance officers?" said Bresnahan. "The answer is that this is a voluntary guideline, but it could eventually have significant and positive impact on the agency and its compliance officers."

Bresnahan said ASSE''s historic position has been that better training for compliance officers would go a long way in improving the reputation of OSHA to a wide range of stakeholders.

"ASSE believes that the level of professionalism needs to be increased, through such efforts as Z490, so that compliance officers are better able to appreciate, understand and address hazards in today''s high-tech environment," said Bresnahan. "The Z490 project will provide to OSHA and other agencies such as NIOSH, accepted guidelines on how training is evaluated, designed and implemented."

Bresnahan also noted that many government agencies and several unions are well represented on the Z490 committee which is setting forth these recommendations.

"Even OSHA recognized a need to enhance the training programs of its staff safety and health professionals," said Bresnahan. "In its final policy statement of July 28, it specifically noted that the training of OSHA field personnel is a priority."

Kane completed the presentation by reporting that the Z490 draft standard is in its final stages of development before it is submitted for review and adoption by ANSI.

A final timeline on its release has not yet been established.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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