The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) has decided to appeal a decision by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to approve development of an Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) standard.
In a July 1 letter to Anne Caldas of ANSI, ASSE President Frank Perry said the "need for the standard has not been met, proven or demonstrated in any meaningful way by the project's secretariat, the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA)."
In May 1996, the majority of participants at an ANSI workshop held in Rosemont, Ill., opposed development of an international OHSMS standard. ASSE said the workshop demonstrated that there was substantial opposition in the United States to a national or an international standard.
ASSE also opposes having AIHA serve as secretariat for the OHSMS standard. In its view, occupational safety management systems are a "vital and essential core" of ASSE. Leadership on this issue should not rest with an organization that is "a subset of the safety discipline." The resulting standard, ASSE said, would have a "decided bias in favor of industrial hygienists who also claim to have competence in accident prevention management."
Manuel Gomez, AIHA's director of scientific affairs, told Occupational Hazards that AIHA is "disappointed" by the ASSE appeal. Gomez said AIHA made "repeated efforts" to ensure that ASSE was fully involved in the development of the consensus standard. He noted that as secretariat, AIHA's role would be to provide an administrative infrastructure and to ensure that ANSI rules were followed. He rejected the idea that AIHA would bias the process, adding that a secretariat that acts to favor any one group would be violating ANSI rules and "ought to be fired."
An appeal hearing by ANSI is expected in October.