Safety professionals can expect that being able to make risk assessments and apply a prescribed hierarchy of controls will be necessary for job retention and career enhancement. Why so? In July 2005, approval was given by the American National Standards Institute of a standard with the designation ANSI/AIHA Z10-2005 and titled "Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems." Z10 is a standard, not a guideline. The American Industrial Hygiene Association is the Secretariat.

For the first time in the US, a broad ranging standard applicable to all organizations has been issued requiring that employers make risk assessments and apply a specified hierarchy of controls in taking risk elimination, reduction, and control measures.

Over time, ANSI standards acquire a "quasi-official" status. This standard will become the benchmark, the minimum, against which the adequacy of safety and health management systems will be measured. Z10 will revolutionize the practice of safety and have significant impact on the knowledge and skill requirements for design engineers and safety professionals. Every safety professional who has responsibility for occupational safety and health should have a copy of this standard and be familiar with its provisions.

But, so also have other new and revised safety standards and guidelines issued in the past few years included provisions for risk assessment and hierarchies of control. These standards and guidelines, in addition to Z10, reflect the views of a broad cross-section of safety professionals who have agreed that a prescribed and sequential course of action should be undertaken to effectively deal with hazards and risks.

This paper will discuss:

  • recently issued standards and guidelines that require risk assessments and the use of a hierarchy of control, with an emphasis on Z10;

  • the purpose of a hierarchy of control;

  • a concept in which hazard identification and analysis, risk assessment and a hierarchy of control are joined with sound problem-solving methods, to become The Safety Decision Hierarchy; and

  • hazard identification and analysis and risk assessment methods.

Standards and Guidelines Having Risk Assessment and Hierarchy of Control Provisions

Several examples are presented here of standards and guidelines issued in the past few years in the United States that require risk assessments and the use of a prescribed hierarchy of controls.


The scope of ANSI Z10 is to "develop a standard of management principles and systems to help organizations design and implement deliberate and documented approaches to continuously improve their occupational health and safety performance." You will be familiar with the major captions in the standard as they are shown in the Table of Contents.


  • 1.0 Scope, Purpose, and Application

  • 2.0 Definitions

  • 3.0 Management Leadership and Employee Participation

  • 4.0 Planning

  • 5.0 Implementation and Operation

  • 6.0 Evaluation and Corrective Action

  • 7.0 Management Review

No surprises, until you get into the details. Certain provisions of the standard are of particular note. They are in the Planning section and the Implementation and Operations section.

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