Square peg, round holeBy Jena Williams

You may have heard that the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) adopted the new national consensus standard for commercial motor vehicle drivers developed by the American Association of Safety Engineers (ASSE). The goal of the standard is to improve transportation safety by providing guidance on issues ranging from inspections and maintenance to distracted driving. The standard is known as ANSI/ASSE Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations, Z15.1-2012, and it expands on an earlier standard issued in 2006.

What does ANSI do and why do we care that they have approved the new standards?

ANSI is the administrator and coordinator of the United States’ voluntary consensus standardization system:

The ANSI Federation’s primary goal is to enhance the global competitiveness of U.S. business and the American quality of life by promoting and facilitating voluntary consensus standards and promoting their integrity. ANSI’s approval of these standards verifies that consensus has been achieved.

Is this more “we’re the government and we are here to help?”

No, actually, the ANSI Federation is made up of volunteers from varied backgrounds to form the best possible balanced opinion.

ANSI consensus principles encompass:

  • Due Process. Any person may participate by expressing a position and its basis, having that position considered, and appealing if adversely affected. Due process allows for equity and fair play.
  • Openness. Any materially affected and interested party has the opportunity to participate in the consensus process.
  • Balance. The standards development activity should have a balance of interests and shall not be dominated by any single interest category.

Is there a reason that individual companies should care about standards?

TIRES found this article that describes the process behind standards and why they should matter to a successful company.  To sum up the article, we depend on standards every day, from the software on your computer to the size of the lanes we drive on. Standards in any and every industry allow it to function and keep consumers coming back.

 Are standards voluntary?

Technically, yes. Practically, no. Another article from ANSI, explains why:

Technically, ANSI standards are considered voluntary consensus standards and are not written as laws or regulations. In fact, the subcommittees that create the standards have no enforcement authority… Yet the standards themselves are widely recognized in industry as an excellent source of reference material…

How long does voluntary stay voluntary?

Trick question! Ultimately, it is possible for standards to become mandatory and enforceable. If some or all of the ANSI standards are referenced in rulemaking by the Occupational Health and Safety Association (OSHA) or a state agency, then the standard becomes the law.

Wow! That’s a lot to take in. The good news is that the standards do not take effect until August 20 and hopefully, we’ll all get to take a closer look at them when the final version becomes available in May. Until then, you can check out the articles below for more information.

Have you ever been involved in a standard making process? What did you feel were the pros and cons of your personal or your company’s experience? Please use the comment tab below to share your experience.

References:

American Society of Safety Engineers press release: http://www.asse.org/en/index.php/press_releases/ansi-approves-asses-revised-safe-practices-for-motor-vehicle-operations-standard/

J. J. Keller sums it up: http://www.jjkeller.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/content_category_Construction%20Safety_article_2012Apr13ANSIapprovesnewstandardonsafepracticesformotorvehicleoperations-042012_10151_-1_10551