Introduction

Welcome to this workshop session sponsored by the ASSE's Standards Development Committee. In this session you will learn about how the ASSE standard development process works and how you can participate. In addition, we are pleased to be able to provide you with an update on two of our key new standards.

What is a Standard?

Simply stated, a standard is a recognized method for performing a task to achieve uniform results.

As safety professionals, standards affect they way we conduct day-to-day activities and implement new safety programs. There are many types of standards. Each day we must comply with OSHA regulatory standards. We also rely on product manufacturer standards for assurance that our safety and personal protective equipment is appropriately designed for the task intended. Standards also provide a consistent approach to safety communications, training and management practices. Our court system relies on standards as precedent in assessing responsibility when someone suffers injury or property damage.

A consensus standard is voluntary and may be performance-based or provide specifications. Some standards that were developed as voluntary have become defacto regulatory standards as in the case of the early-promulgated OSHA standards. Keeping up-to-date with current versions of consensus standards has posed a regulatory challenge for OSHA. The "new" OSHA has deferred to conventional wisdom by encouraging more participation in ANSI in order to furnish additional support to standards development organizations as set forth in an OSHA Memorandum of Understanding dated 1/19/2001 (http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=MOU &p_id=323).

To assure consensus, there are requirements for: due process, openness, for balance of interest on the committee, and procedures for development, balloting, consideration of views and objections, interpretation and appeals associated with the standard. A consensus standard undergoes a scheduled five-year review. If there are no technical updates, it can be reaffirmed. If technology or significant new scientific data warrants a change, the standard is updated. Anybody can contact a standards writing committee and suggest a change. There are procedures about how to go about doing this - but generally there is a change proposal form included at the end of the standard. You fill out the form and the Committee will address it as an agenda item at a scheduled meeting. Following the meeting, the Committee's Secretariat will send you a response indicating the Committee's determination.

The Role of ASSE in Standards Development

ASSE supports the voluntary development, promotion and use of consensus standards. Towards this objective, ASSE is involved in standards activities with many organizations and committees functioning under the auspices of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), American Society of Testing & Materials (ASTM), and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

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