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Why Every Safety Professional Should Be Familiar with ANSI Z-10

Some safety professionals struggle to decide where to start when they set out to establish an effective occupational health and safety program. Implementing the components of ANSI Z-10 not only will alleviate the burden of determining where to begin, but also will ensure the implementation of a researched and standardized program.

What is ANSI Z-10?

With its foundation in the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” principle of workplace improvement, ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Z-10 is a voluntary occupational health and safety management system that was developed through the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and published in 2005.

The standard provides the following basic elements: management leadership and employee participation; program planning; program implementation and operations; program evaluation and corrective actions; and management review. In addition, the standard also addresses risk controls, audits, incident/accident investigations, responsibilities and authorities. Suited for organizations of all sizes and applications, the standard was designed to facilitate sustainable growth in occupational safety and health programs.

The Standard’s Significance

With a primary purpose of providing a management tool that reduces the risk of occupational injuries, illnesses and fatalities, ANSI Z-10 provides a functional approach to program management.

ANSI Z-10 is comparable to other management systems, such as the 1989 federal OSHA safety and health program management guidelines, the National Safety Council’s nine elements of a safety management system, and OHSAS 1800 (published by the British Standards Institute). It also can be integrated with ISO 9000 and ISO 14000. These systems remove the guesswork from OHS program management and provide a tangible and tested approach to program management.

The Importance of Implementation

Since its inception in 2005, ANSI Z-10 has not been largely implemented. I suspect this is because it is a voluntary standard, and unfortunately, many organizations will only implement what they are legally required to (e.g., OSHA-mandated injury and illness prevention programs and hazard communication programs). Implementing the ANSI Z-10 standard, however, will only further augment an existing program and move the organization closer to an incident-free workplace.

Implementing voluntary standards such as ANSI Z-10 helps an organization transition from the historic safety management approach of “We will do only what we are required to do” to the progressive approach of “We will do what is necessary to achieve the greatest amount of success in our OHS programs.”

When it comes to safety, that “greatest amount of success” can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. And that is why every safety professional should be familiar with ANSI Z-10.

EHS Today guest blogger Jason Townsell, CSP, was named the 2010 Future Leader in EHS. He works for AECOM as a program safety manager at San Diego International Airport.

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