ISO 45001 and ANSI Z10 Offer Valuable Safety Management Guidance

Industry standards exist to help set the foundation for a safety management system. For those who may not have a system in place or are looking to take an existing safety management system (SMS) to the next level, standards offer a guiding blueprint for the key and necessary components and practices. Two of the most common and ubiquitous are the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 45001 and the American National Standards Institute’s ANSI Z10.

ISO 45001 is described as the world’s first international standard for occupational health and safety systems. It provides a framework for improving health and safety performance and is intended to control the factors that may result in injury, illness or death on the job. ISO 45001 is also described as process-based and considers risks and opportunities. The standard explicitly mentions mental health as an element that should be protected by the program.

Another noteworthy feature of ISO 45001 is that stakeholders in the safety program should include those beyond employers and employees and target the local community potentially impacted by the activities of an organization. ISO 45001 is intended to encourage the perception of health and safety, not as a stand-alone department or activity, but as a practice integrated across all areas and activities and supporting overall business success. Among other things, that means integrating environment, health and safety (EHS) roles with other business support functions. You can download a brochure on ISO 45001 and a practical guide for small organizations from the ISO website.

The stated purpose of ANSI Z10 standard is to provide organizations with an effective continuous improvement approach to occupational health and safety performance. The general structure and content of ISO 45001 and ANSI Z10 are similar, but there are areas where Z10 is more comprehensive and slightly different than certain sections of ISO 45001. One of the most important statements Z10 makes is that, whenever practical, an organization’s SMS should be integrated into already existing business practices. The Z10 standard focuses mainly on the strategic aspects of how of health and safety policies are carried out but does not spell out things like detailed procedures or job instructions.

Z10 is based on United States laws and regulations, business practices, labor relations and health and safety approaches, whereas ISO 45001 considers business practices, approaches to health and safety, legal and regulatory requirements from international ISO member countries. The information in the chart below comes from the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) and compares these two standards.

“I probably like Z10 better (than ISO 450001). If you lay them side-by-side, they’re fairly comparable,” says Scott Gaddis, the vice president and global practice leader for safety and health at Intelex Technologies. “ISO (45001) allows you the ability to do what you think are the best things to do. It’s almost written as performance guidelines.

“Z10 is also written as a performance guideline, but it explains what (the processes) should look like. It’s almost like an audit (that explains) here’s what your auditor will be looking for. I like how Z10 goes after what I call the predictable elements of a management system.”

Free Help is Also Available

If IS0 450001 or ANSI Z10 aren’t the frameworks your organization feels equipped to follow as a template for its SMS, there is other simpler and free guidance available to help you get started. Malcolm Jacobs, the senior director for environmental health and safety at TDX Holdings in Anchorage, Alaska recommends looking to your workmen’s compensation insurance provider.

“If you have a good program you’re saving them money,” he says. “They may have sample programs for different activities and some even have guidance to share on developing your hazard analysis. They’ll also have a team that could come to your company to observe and make recommendations for your ergonomic programs.”

Jacobs adds that insurance companies are often willing to do a safety audit of your organization which you can then use to measure against your own audit for comparison. During their audit, insurers may make a list of deficiencies which you can then correct. Some insurance companies offer safety training that they’ll often provide onsite for your employees.

“Insurance companies offer quite a bit,” he says. “It just depends on your provider and it’s always worthwhile to get on the phone and speak with them. When you purchase insurance, they certainly ask you a lot of questions so it’s only fair that you can ask them questions, too.”

OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program or VPP is another great option and a good place to start when thinking about a SMS.

“Employing your country or state OSHA organization is an excellent resource,” Jacob says. “If you look at their check sheet for building a VPP program, it follows the Z10 and ISO 450001 standards closely. The program also gets you involved with other companies that have been through VPP and have safety management systems in place. Many are willing to share their audits with you and provide feedback.”

And some final advice from Jacob for those looking to implement a safety management system:

  • Review relevant information that’s available on safety management systems
  • Look at your organization and determine what’s currently in place, what’s needed or what can be improved (See “10 Steps to Take Your Safety Management System from Good to Great.”)
  • Build relationships with your organization’s management and with your workforce
  • Understand the mission of the company and where it is going in the future and make sure your plan incorporates your company’s business vision
  • Benchmark and follow the best practices of other companies that already have and utilize a SMS
  • Join safety professional networks, communicate your ideas with them and listen to the best practices offered by others. Get the Intelex Insight Report, Safety Management Systems: Building a Foundation on Data, to learn how to develop a safety management system for your organization and the data needed to improve its effectiveness.

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