84: Safety Management System Pt 5 – Breaking Down ANSI/ASSP Z10


We know by now that the application of a safety management system (SMS) can drastically improve organizational safety performance. Even OSHA’s Partnership program, VPP, relies on management system principles, and you can see the results that participants encounter on their website.

So, back in 1999, ANSI started a committee to begin work on what would become known as the Z10 standard. The committee looked at existing national and international standards in occupational safety and health. Initially approved in 2005, it was revised once and reaffirmed in 2017. More recently, the collaboration between ANSI and the American Industrial Hygiene Association was replaced on the Z10 committee by the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), which is why you will now see the standard now titled ANSI/ASSP Z10.

ANSI Z10 encourages participants to integrate other management systems with the safety management system. Mainly because most other systems follow the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) model as the basis for continuous improvement, so it should be familiar to most organizations. Not only that, it is incredibly useful! The stated purpose of the standard is to provide organizations a valuable tool for continuous improvement of their safety and health performance.

The standard focuses mainly on the strategic aspects of policies and the things that go into making sure they are carried out. What ANSI Z10 does NOT do is provide companies with things like detailed procedures and job instructions. So let’s get into what is required by this voluntary standard.

Like other voluntary standards, the ANSI/ASSP Z10 is broken down into sections. According to the Table of Contents, the seven sections are as follows:

  1. Scope, Purpose, & Application
  2. Definitions
  3. Management Leadership & Employee Participation
  4. Planning
  5. Implementation & Operation
  6. Evaluation & Corrective Action
  7. Management Review

Scope, Purpose, & Application

Just as in the case with ISO 45001, ANSI/ASSP Z10 starts with the Scope, Purpose & Application. It defines the minimum requirements for the safety management system, and its primary purpose is, again, to provide a tool that organizations can use to reduce injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Of course, the standard can be applied to any organization regardless of size and type.

Management Leadership & Employee Participation

The top management has to mandate all parts of the organization to establish, maintain, implement, and maintain the SMS per the standard.

This mandate starts with top management establishing a documented EHS policy. Companies have to make sure that, at a minimum, the safety policy includes the following:

  • Protection and continual improvement of employee safety and health.
  • Meaningful employee involvement.
  • Require conformance with the organization’s safety and health program requirements.
  • Require compliance with established safety and health laws and regulations.

The top leadership must also accept ultimate responsibility for safety and health by doing the things we come to expect in these safety management systems:

  • Provide financial and professional resources to carry out the management system requirements.
  • Define roles and responsibilities, accountability, and authority to carry out the management system requirements.
  •  Integrate the SMS into other business systems and processes, which includes performance reviews, compensation, rewards, and recognition programs are in line with the SMS.

Employees also have to assume responsibility for parts of the SMS over which they have control, like following safety rules and procedures. All of this must be communicated to all employees as well as be made available to relevant external interested parties.

According to ANSI, top leadership should not only hire a safety professional and delegate all of this to them. They must be visible in their leadership by participating in carrying out aspects of the SMS as well.

Employee Participation

The organization has to establish a process that ensures meaningful employee participation throughout all levels. At a minimum:

  • Provide employees the means, time, and resources needed to participate in the planning, implementation, evaluation, corrective action, and preventative actions required by the SMS.
  • Provide employees access to information related to the SMS.
  • Effectively remove all barriers to meaningful involvement.


ANSI states that the planning process goal is to identify and prioritize SMS issues such as hazards, risks, SMS deficiencies, and opportunities for improvement. The organization must also establish goals and objectives to improve upon the SMS as well.

There are four parts of this section:

  1. Review Process
  2. Assessment and Prioritization
  3. Objectives
  4. Implementation Plans and Allocation of Resources

Let’s talk about Review; I often mention the need to conduct a gap assessment. Well, so does ANSI. You need to identify the differences, the gap between the organization’s SMS, and the requirements of the Z10.

Not only does this need to be done when implementing Z10, but also periodically after that. The organization must document these activities. The activities you should document include:

  • Relevant business systems and processes
  • Operational issues like hazards, risks, and controls
  • Previously identified issues
  • Allocation of needed resources
  • Applicable regulations, standards, and other EHS requirements
  • Risk assessments
  • Opportunities for employee participation
  • Results of other audits
  • Any other relevant activities

Implementation & Operation

This section is where ANSI spells out which elements an organization needs for the implementation of an effective SMS. These elements are considered foundational elements of the SMS and feed into the planning process.

ANSI believes the implementation fo these elements also generates the much-needed experience and knowledge that will be looped back into the planning process continuously.

The elements are as follows:

  1. Risk Assessment
  2. Education, Training, Awareness, and Competence
  3. Communication
  4. Document and Record Control Process

Here I want to focus on the first element. The organization must establish and implement a risk assessment process that addresses the nature of the hazards and level of risks in the business.

In the Risk Assessment element, ANSI spells out the use of the hierarchy of controls, design review, management of change, procurement processes, contractor management, and emergency preparedness. These all must be addressed to comply with the standard.

Evaluation & Corrective Action

In this section, ANSI covers the requirements for processes to achieve the following:

  • Evaluate the performance of the SMS through monitoring, measurement, assessment, incident investigation, and audits.
  • Take corrective action when the organization discovers deficiencies.
  • Consider the results of audits as part of the planning process and management review.
  • The purpose is to help evaluate SMS performance by measuring the company’s efforts at reducing risks.

ANSI spells out five areas that will help:

  1. Monitoring, Measurement, and Assessment
  2. Incident Investigation
  3. Audits
  4. Corrective and Preventative Action
  5. Feedback to the Planning Process

In the end, the findings and lessons learned will loop back into the continuous process of improving the SMS overall.

Management Review

In this section, ANSI defines the requirements for occasional management reviews. The reason is for top management, along with crucial leaders in the organization, to do a strategic evaluation of the performance of the SMS and recommend improvements. The difference being that this speaks specifically to top leadership.

Things to consider using during any management review include:

  • Any reduction of risks identified
  • The effectiveness of the organization’s ability to identify, assess, and prioritize risk
  • The effectiveness in addressing underlying causes and contributors to risks and deficiencies
  •  Input from employees
  • The status of corrective actions determined to be needed
  • Progress on any stated SMS goals and objectives

The reason top management needs to conduct these reviews is that they have the authority to make the necessary decisions about allocating resources about choices.

The results need to be summarized, spelling out action items top management needs to address. These go into action plans with targets to achieve as well as identifying those responsible for seeing them through.

To recap, the ANSI/ASSP Z10 Standard has requirements under the following sections:

  1. Scope, Purpose, & Application
  2. Definitions
  3. Management Leadership & Employee Participation
  4. Planning
  5. Implementation & Operation
  6. Evaluation & Corrective Action
  7. Management Review

I wanted to cover ANSI Z10 as I did for the ISO 45001 Standard in the last episode. Which one do you think you would recommend following? Why?

I like aspects of both, but the ANSI Standard reads better. They formatted the standard into two columns. The left-hand side spells out standard requirements while the right-hand side offers recommendations or best practices related to each. It is pretty easy to follow in that regard.

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