The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) has published a new, general standard for safety, health and environmental training that will enable safety professionals to follow consistent training criteria. An industry first, the standard, which has been approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), applies to both the public and private sectors.

The American National Standard, Z490.1, "Criteria for Accepted Practices in Safety, Health and Environmental Training," is a broad-based voluntary standard that covers all facets of training, including how to develop, deliver, evaluate and manage training and training programs. It serves as a basic body of knowledge, designed to train employees and compliance safety health officers; assist safety, health and environmental professionals in initiating programs; and provide a benchmark for employees to evaluate in-house and contracted training.

According to ASSE, the standard, which was published this fall, grew out of the need for improved safety, health and environmental training. EHS training has historically been addressed by only a few, specific regulations with limited scope, says ASSE, such as asbestos, hazard communication and storm water management. They usually specify the technical topics to be covered in a training course but do not stipulate how to adequately design, develop, deliver and evaluate training.

Z490.1 takes elements of accepted practices in the training industry and combines them with accepted practices from the safety, health and environmental fields. The standard provides a training model that is transferable to virtually any industry, as well as a benchmark for companies and government agencies in evaluating their training programs.

ASSE member Steve F. Kane, CSP, PE and Z490 chairman, says the new standard establishes the minimum requirements for training curricula and trainer qualifications for safety professionals. "Now there is a means to measure performance," he says. "Before the standard was created businesses were not assured that training was being performed to a set standard to ensure safety and competence on the job."

ASSE points out that compliance with this standard does not assure compliance with governmental regulations or organizational policies, or vice versa. The Z490 Committee is soliciting public input that may suggest revisions to the standard.

The Z490.1 standard is available from ASSE for $32 for ASSE members and $48 for non-members.