Listen up: There is no such thing as a safe facility. Shocked? Don’t be. Even if you haven’t had a recordable injury in ten years, there’s always more that can be done to improve safety in your workplace.
We celebrate National Safety Month every June, but our true belief is that every month is National Safety Month. So what do you do when you already have a comprehensive safety management system in place, your injury and DART rates are at zero and you know you’re in compliance with the regulations that apply to your facility? Go above what’s required and incorporate voluntary consensus standards into your safety program.
What Are Voluntary Consensus Standards and Who Creates Them?
Standard-writing bodies compose technical specifications for products and processes, which then become voluntary consensus standards. And these standards can take safety at your facility from good to great. (Think: Fewer reported workplace injuries!)
Many of the voluntary consensus standards in the United States come from five main bodies:
- National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA)
- American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
- American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE)
- American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA)
- International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA)
Voluntary Consensus Standards vs. Regulations
Voluntary consensus standards are just that: voluntary. But they reflect established best management practices that have been time-tested and proven to enhance safety. So although your facility may not be required to follow them, it usually makes sense to.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has incorporated some consensus standards into their regulations by reference. By the time OSHA was founded in 1970, many consensus standards were already established and used throughout industry. Rather than reinventing the wheel, OSHA incorporated some of these into their regulations by references, which means that OSHA can cite your facility for failing to comply with these standards. (See a list of standards incorporated by reference into OSHA regulations here.)
In addition to U.S. standards writing agencies, there are also international standards agencies. One of the most notable is the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). A draft version of their 45001 standard on Occupational Health and Safety is currently available, with the final version expected in October 2016. This voluntary standard will provide an internationally accepted framework for safety management systems. Like other ISO standards, facilities will be able to have their system certified. In this case, it would be their safety management system.
Here are 12 voluntary consensus standards that will take your safety program to the next level: