The recently formed ANSI committee charged with drawing up voluntary requirements for how to organize and audit workplace health and safety practices, similar to ISO quality and environmental “management systems” standards, will hold its second meeting May 17 and 18 in Alexandria, Va.

The ANSI Z10 committee is made up of a diverse array of industry, labor, government, academic and association representatives — 46 in all. Participants include OSHA and NIOSH; associations such as the American Industrial Hygiene Association and the American Society of Safety Engineers; the AFL-CIO and the United Auto Workers; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and corporations like General Motors, Goodyear, and John Deere.

Not all members are gung-ho about the need for an ISO-like safety and health standard, even if it’s voluntary. At the committee’s first meeting, about a half-dozen members voted against proceeding with standards-setting, according to sources.

“There’s just no need for it,” said one committee member. Large companies already have health and safety management practices in place, and small companies won’t be motivated by voluntary requirements, opponents of the ANSI standard argue. They see consultants who would verify compliance as the primary potential benefactors.

Still, with OSHA standards-setting mired in Washington’s anti-regulatory mood, this ANSI voluntary initiative is the only game in town, as one participant said. And if the effort gains momentum over the next year, no one wants to be left out of the action. A draft standard is targeted for the end of 2002.

For more information on the May meeting, contact AIHA’s Standards Coordinator David Gillum at (703) 849-8888.