This week, in addition to attending the AIHCE in Portland, I will be participating in a meeting of the ANSI Z10 Committee. We will be discussing the revision of Z10 that was undertaken last year and is scheduled to be completed later this year (Fall 2011).
ANSI Z10:2005 is the American National Standard for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems. As such, it is part of a large family of standards addressing this topic. The dominate sibling in this family is, of course, OHSAS 18001:2007. According to the 2009 Standards and Certificates Survey conducted by the OSHAS Project Group, over 50,000 organizations have obtained certification to OHSAS 18001.
The goal of this revision of Z10 is to continue to provide guidance helpful to organizations in the United States that want to implement an OH&S management system. Another use of Z10 is as a reference document for OSHA’s initiative for development of a standard requiring that employers establish an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2 Initiative). Finally, there is a desire to ensure that Z10 continues to have relevance to OH&S in the future.
One of the interesting inputs impacting this revision of Z10 is the increasing focus on sustainability initiatives and corporate sustainability reporting. Many OH&S professionals have expressed concern about the lack of attention given to worker safety within the sustainability movement. One of the initiatives ASSE and AIHA are working on together is the development of appropriate metrics for measuring OH&S performance for the next revision of the GRI sustainability reporting guidelines.
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OHSAS 18001 requires both audits of sustainability and audits for sustainability.
What does this mean? What is the difference?
These two types of audits relate to two different definitions of sustainability.
The first definition, derived from the Brundtland Commission Report’s definition of sustainable development, is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Although originally environmentally focused, this concept has evolved to include other components as well. Notably, for occupational health and safety, sustainability is seen as including the actions and conditions that affect all members of society including workers (the “social” component).
The second definition, the dictionary definition, is to “endure without giving way.” This concept of sustainability is focused on survival and maintenance in the face of changing conditions. This is often referred to as management of change. As stated in section 184.108.40.206 of OHSAS 18002, “The organization should manage and control any changes that can affect or impact its OH&S hazards and risks”.
The internal audit element of OHSAS 18001 (section 4.5.5) requires that audits be conducted in order to make the following three types of determinations:
- the OHSMS conforms to the OHSAS 18001 requirements and the organization’s planned arrangements;
- the OHSMS is properly implemented and maintained; and
- the OHSMS is effective in meeting the organization’s policy and objectives.
Many organizations focus almost exclusively on conducting internal audits to determine conformance – the first type of determination listed in section 4.5.5. These organizations often ignore the other two purposes of an internal audit listed in OHSAS 18001 – the requirements for sustainability audits.
Standards are based on principles.
ISO 9001 is based on quality principles. ISO 19011 is based on auditing principles. Last week, I participated in a conference call for ISO 14046 in which we discussed what principles are important to the development of a water footprint. For this discussion we started with the sustainability principles set out in a publication entitled, Guide to Corporate Ecosystem Valuation, which was recently developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
Just as principles are important for many of the ISO standards, OHSAS 18001 is also based on several principles.