What You Need to Know About Safety Management Systems

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May 1, 2024
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Patrick J. Karol,

Occupational Safety and Health Management Systems are covered on the Associate Safety Professional and Certified Safety Professional(Domain 2 Management Systems) exams. Specifically, ISO 45001 and ANSI/ASSP Z10.0-2019Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems. Both are aligned, sharing basic principles and concepts, so we encourage you to obtain one of these standards. Both are used by organizations in the U. S. and around the world. Both standards provide organizations with an effective tool for continuous improvement of their occupational health and safety performance, including reducing risk and the occurrence and cost of occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.

Here are some key points regarding these standards.

·       Both Z10.0 and ISO 45001 are industry consensus standards rather than regulatory standards, meaning they are voluntary. OSHA1910 General Industry and 1929 Construction are regulatory standards enforceable by the federal government and not voluntary.  

·       Both Z10.0 and ISO 45001 are “performance” standards. They tell an organization what to do but not how. “Prescriptive” standards tell an organization what and how to comply with a regulation. Some OSHA standards are “prescriptive.” For example, 1910.147 Control of Hazardous Energy prescribes the steps in a lockout/tagout process.

·       Both Z10.0 and ISO 45001 are based on the “plan, do, check, act” (PDCA) continuous improvement process rooted in the quality movement. Management guru Edwards Deming championed PDCA in the 1950s, and it is used as a framework for most safety management systems.

·       Both Z10.0 and ISO 45001 focus on strategy and do not include procedures or specifically address regulatory standards or job instructions.

·       Both Z10.0 and ISO 45001 can be used to support other related initiatives, including social responsibility and sustainability.

Elements of ANSI Z10 include:

1.     Management Leadership and Employee Participation. Top management leadership and employee participation are crucial for the success of the safety management system. These are two common elements of all safety management systems, including OSHA’s VPP. This element includes OSH policy, roles, and responsibilities.

2.     Planning. This section includes assessment and prioritization, objectives and targets, implementation plans, and resource allocation.

3.     Support. This section includes resources, education, training, competence, awareness, communication, and the document control process.

4.     Implementation and Operation. This section includes operational planning and control, identifications of hazards and issues, system deficiencies and opportunities for improvement, risk management and the hierarchy of controls, design review and management of change, procurement, contractors, emergency preparedness, and occupational health

5.     Evaluation and Corrective Action. Monitoring, measurement and assessment, incident investigations, audits, corrective actions, feedback and organizational learning,

6.     Management Review. Management reviews outcomes and follow-up.

Expect a deeper dive and more questions on safety management systems in the CSP exam. Safety management systems represent the most extensive domains in both the ASP and CSP exams. Our recommendation is to obtain a copy of either standard. Z10.0 is more applicable to the U.S., and ISO 45001 is primarily recognized in the international community.  

On a side note, beware of study material that references OSHAS 18001. A few years ago, this British standard was replaced by ISO 45001. The study material is dated.  


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