EHS Administration, Regulatory Developments

ASSP Releases New Safety and Health Metrics Standard

The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) has published a new voluntary consensus standard for measuring health and safety performance. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/ASSP Z16.1-2022, Safety and Health Metrics and Performance Measures, updates a standard (ANSI Z16.1) first released in the 1960s as “Method of Recording and Measuring Work Injury Experience.”

The updated Z16.1 standard balances risk management factors and safety management systems, according to ASSP, by incorporating leading, lagging, and impact metrics. Lagging metrics include after-the-fact data like Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) injury and illness statistics. Leading indicators track preventive measures, which ASSP considers predictive and incentivizing.

“Relying solely on lagging metrics does not improve workplace safety,” Alexi Carli, MS, CSP, chair of the Z16 committee, said in a statement.

“We need a complete, systematic method to influence what happens while understanding how and why it happens. This standard’s balanced approach measures actions that drive improvement. It’s a major development that can help businesses thrive, especially in today’s challenging environment.”

“Occupational safety and health professionals are strategic business partners,” Carli added, “and the new standard enables them to help corporate leaders achieve greater organizational efficiencies and improve resilience.”

ASSP’s Z16.1 product page describes the standard as defining “requirements and expectations for organizations to establish effective measurement systems that assess safety and health performance, reduce risks, identify gaps in safety and health management systems, and drive needed improvements.”

ASSP also released revised versions of two other voluntary consensus standards:

The atmospheric hazards of confined spaces show up across many industries and work settings, and falls are a leading cause of accidental deaths. OSHA has federal workplace safety and health standards for permit-required confined spaces (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1910.146) and walking-working surfaces (§1910.22).

However, ASSP contends that industry consensus standards fill gaps left by regulatory requirements. Federal regulations are slow to change and are often outdated, the group argues, and compliance with federal regulations is insufficient to protect workers.

ASSP is a safety professional organization, as well as a standards-setting body. It has a global membership of 36,000 professionals across industries.

ASSP last year criticized OSHA’s vaccinate-or-test COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS) for its exemption of employers with fewer than 100 employees. The group called for a risk-assessment approach to vaccination or testing requirements rather than tying requirements to employer size.

OSHA withdrew the ETS for all private sector employers on January 26 after the U.S. Supreme Court issued an indefinite judicial stay of the emergency rule. The Court majority felt that OSHA exceeded the authority granted by the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act when it issued the ETS.

In 2019, ASSP issued employer guidance for handling active shooter incidents. Recommendations included determining facility vulnerabilities, hardening sites, training and drills, and coordination with local emergency response agencies.