The purpose of safety and health standards are to assist in the prevention of accidents and injuries. Standards also serve the purpose of giving guidance to industries, public officials and other parties interested in understanding the science and importance of standard development. Standards should provide technical expertise from experts in the field and raise awareness of solutions to potential hazards. Standards should also help establish best practices that provide effective planning and development of programs, policies and procedures to reduce losses. A problem inherent with standard development is conflict and differences in standard developed by various organizations and nations. Conflicting standards are confusing to the users and lead to the next big step in the standards development process, which is the comparison of various standards and methodologies from various organization and nations.
The Internet has increased the awareness of and accessibility to standards for safety professionals, employers, workers and other interested individuals. Better access to safety and health standards lends itself to the opportunity of comparison and contrast of different techniques, technologies and specifications. There are different types of standards to be examined from performance-oriented standards, specification standards and even preliminary standards that take the form of experiments and technical reviews.
In any form, safety and health standards must be a useful tool for employers, workers, managers, safety professionals and others when their job involves responsibility for or involvement with worker safety and health. Those in responsible positions need to look at a comparison of standards as a resource and they must possess the skill to determine not only the difference between standards which require mandatory compliance but also voluntary and advisory standards which will be useful in their efforts to reduce injuries and illnesses. Successful safety and health professional must be in a position to compare and contrast the content and effectiveness of the various safety and health standards available from many organization and nations. The user can review related standards and utilize the content that will be most effective for creating and sustaining safe and healthful work environments. This is true whether the standards being used are mandatory or voluntary.