Newly released fatality data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show a 2-percent increase in fatal work injuries in 2018, prompting the American Society of Safety Professionals to renew a call for employers to act.
Specifically, ASSP is urging employers to adopt voluntary national consensus standards and implement safety and health management systems. It says the number of fatal occupational injuries has increased in four of the past five years.
“With the innovative tools available to today’s employers nationwide, it’s concerning that we’re continuing to see higher numbers of worker fatalities,” said president Diana Stegall in a prepared statement. “Most occupational incidents are preventable given today’s technologies and proven safety and health strategies.”
Voluntary consensus standards promote best practices and prevent worker injuries, illnesses, and fatalities, according to ASSP. It serves as the secretariat for many standards committees in the United States and worldwide, forming expert groups and ensuring standards are developed and revised in accordance with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Regulatory entities such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set workplace safety standards mandated by law, but voluntary consensus standards are those guidelines that safety-minded organizations choose to implement because of their merit, according to ASSP. Consensus standards reflect diverse viewpoints and represent state-of-the-art practices and technologies while addressing gaps where no regulatory standard exists in today’s rapidly changing environment.
“Voluntary national consensus standards can transform safety programs from compliance-based cost centers to corporate sustainability initiatives that save lives and positively impact the organization’s bottom line,” Stegall said.
ASSP also ties improvement in workplace safety to safety and health management systems such as the newly revised ANSI/ASSP Z10.0-2019 standard. Z10 is a blueprint for any company to develop and administer a safety and health management system, according to ASSP. It establishes an operational foundation by ensuring that critical processes are integrated. Customized elements are based on the organization’s characteristics such as hazard exposures, risk levels, industry type and business processes.