Setting the Standard: ANSI, NFPA and NIOSH

Setting the Standard: ANSI, NFPA and NIOSH

Have you heard of ANSI, NFPA and NIOSH? Here's what you need to know about these organizations that exist to keep people safe in the workplace.

If you’ve been in the automotive industry for any number of years, you know about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and have a general idea about the agency and its goals.

OSHA began with the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, and its mission is “to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.”

As an employer, you must comply with all applicable OSHA standards as well as the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act, which requires employers to keep their workplaces free of serious, recognized hazards.

OSHA wants compliance to facilitate worker safety, but it also wants to give businesses the tools and knowledge required to keep people safe in the workplace, no matter their size. To that end, the agency partners with organizations that issue “voluntary consensus standards.” Have you heard of ANSI, NFPA and NIOSH? Let’s look at these organizations that are here to help.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

When you put on your personal protective equipment (PPE) in the shop, whether it’s protective eyewear, footwear or head gear, you’ve probably seen the ANSI symbol. ANSI oversees standards and conformity assessment activities in the U.S. Founded in 1918, its mission is to enhance both the global competitiveness of U.S. business and the U.S. quality of life by promoting and facilitating voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment systems as well as safeguarding their integrity. ANSI does not develop standards, but it does provide a framework for fair standards development and quality conformity assessment systems. What does that mean to your business? In the case of ANSI, the standards are voluntary but agreed upon by experts and in sync with the latest industry best practices.

An example is eye protection. In CFR 1926.102, OSHA says that eyewear must provide adequate protection against the hazards for which it’s designed, be reasonably comfortable when worn under the designated conditions, fit snugly and shall not unduly interfere with the movements of the wearer, be durable, be capable of being disinfected and be easily cleanable. In addition, OSHA says that protective eye and face protection devices must comply with any of the following consensus standards: ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2010, 2003 or 1989. So, manufacturers that include Z87 on their products must comply with the requirements set forth by ANSI. ANSI standards are accessible for a fee at ansi.org.

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Another organization you may have heard of is the NFPA. The global self-funded nonprofit organization, established in 1896, is “devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards.”

NFPA delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy — and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering its mission. NFPA codes and standards are free to access at nfpa.org.

How do OSHA and NFPA work together, and how does this apply to your business? An obvious area is fire protection. For example, OSHA has basic requirements for exit routes in every business, including the requirement to have an adequate number of exit routes. Although a single exit route is permitted “where the number of employees, the size of the building, its occupancy or the arrangement of the workplace is such that all employees would be able to evacuate safely during an emergency,” you can consult NFPA 101-2009, Life Safety Code, for assistance in determining the number of exits necessary for your workplace.

If you work around electricity in the shop — and all employees do — you know about NFPA. OSHA’s electrical safety requirements, laid out in CFR 1920 Subpart S, reference NFPA 70E, the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. Originally developed at OSHA’s request, NFPA 70E helps businesses and employees avoid workplace injuries and fatalities related to shock, electrocution, arc flash and arc blast.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Have you heard of NIOSH, the research agency focused on the study of worker safety and health? NIOSH was established as part of the OSH Act of 1970 and is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its mandate is to “assure every man and woman in the nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources.”

NIOSH conducts research to reduce worker illness and injury and to advance worker well-being. One way it does this is by tracking work-related hazards, exposures, illnesses and injuries for prevention. Another goal is to enhance worker safety and health, and the agency does this by providing workplace illness and injury reduction strategies. Are you looking for ways to prevent injury? Check out NIOSH at cdc.gov/niosh.

Another way you may hear about NIOSH in the shop is in the area of respirators. In OSHA CFR 1910.134 Respiratory Protection, general requirements, the standard says, “The employer shall select a NIOSH-certified respirator.” Your respirators should have a NIOSH certification symbol. Like other governing and regulatory bodies, NIOSH has standards, requirements and tests that products, product lines, manufacturers and manufacturer quality control systems must meet for approval.

Do Your Research

There are many organizations out there that can help you provide a safer workplace or strengthen your safety plans. Don’t hesitate to visit their respective websites for more information.

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