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Criteria for Establishing the Scope and Functions of the Professional Safety Position

(from the ANSI/ASSE Z590.2-2003 Standard)

The American National Standard Institute (ANSI) Z590 standard projects were initiated by t h e American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) in response to requests from its membership. After a careful evaluation of commentary from its membership in its various venues, consensus was reached for the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) to initiate this standards project, including use of the canvass method approach. This methodology was chosen as the subject area of the standards, developed within the scope of the project, are primarily, but not exclusively, issues of ASSE's mission and purpose. ASSE currently has almost 30,000 members representing a diverse range of safety professionals from industry, business, government, and academia. This diverse membership, in conjunction with ANSI procedure, allows for development of such standards in a manner which encourages participation from a wide range of interested stakeholders.

Using the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) model for the development of these standards , ASSE created the Operating Procedures (OPs) governing its role as secretariat. Concurrently, and integral to establishing the OPs, was registration of the standards project via the Project Initiation Notification System, which sought public comment of all interested and affected parties. While thi s notice was published in the ANSI Standards Action of Novem ber 7, 1997, the thirty (30) day notice expired on December 8, 1997 without any comment from the general public or affected/interested parties.

Accordingly, and based upon this record and its procedural criteria, ANSI's Executive Standards Council approved establishment of the standards project, its operating procedures, and the ASSE as secretariat on February 12, 1998. Under the alphanumerical designation, Z590.1, and its title, Criteria for Establishing Levels of Competence in the Safety Profession, various aspects related t o the safety profession are addressed. This second standard in the series is Z590.2 Criteria for Establishing the Scope and Function of the Professional Safety Position.

To perform their professional functions, individuals practicing in the safety profession generally have education, training and experience from a common body of knowledge. They need to have a fundamental knowledge of physics, chemistry, biology, physiology, statistics, mathematics, computer science, engineering mechanics, industrial processes, business, communicat ion and psychology.

Professional safety studies include industrial hygiene and toxicology, design of engineering hazard controls, fire protection, ergonomics, system and process safety, safety and health program management, accident investigation and analysis, product safety, construction safety, education and training methods, measurement of safety performance, human behavior, environmental safety and health, and safety, health and environmental laws, regulations and standards. Many have backgrounds or advanced study in other disciplines, such as management and business administration, engineering, education, physical and social sciences and other fields. Others have advanced study in safety, and this additional background extends their expertise beyond the basics of the safety profession. Because safety is an element in all human endeavors, the performance of these functions, in a variety of contexts in both public and private sectors, often employ specialized knowledge and skills.

Typical settings are manufacturing, insurance, risk management, government, education, consulting, construction, healthcare, engineering and design, waste management , petroleum, facilities management, retail, transportation and utilities. Within these contexts, they must adapt their functions to fit the mission, operations and climate of their employer. Not only must individuals practicing in the safety profession acquire the knowledge and skills to perform these functions effectively in their employment context, through continuing education and training they stay current with new technologies, changes in laws and regulations, and changes in the workforce, workplace and world business, political and social climate.

As part of their positions, these individuals must plan for and manage resources and funds related to their functions. They may be responsible for supervising a diverse staff of professionals. By acquiring the knowledge and skills of the profession, developing the mind set and wisdom to act responsibly in the employment context, and keeping up with changes that affect the safety profession, the required safety professional functions are able to be performed with confidence, competence and respected authority.

The Z590.2 Standard sets forth common and reasonable parameters of the professional safety position. The standard will help businesses and industry in identifying areas of responsibility for their in-house practitioners of safety and outside safety consultants. In recent years legislation and regulation at the national, state, and local levels has attempted to codify the professional areas of responsibility for those practicing in the safety profession. The most compelling reason why such an initiative should be undertaken is that ASSE identified hundreds of state and national legislation/regulation in a single calendar year which would have established these levels of responsibility. Having one American National Standard will offer a wide range of different options to private sector organizations and public agencies in creating their own benchmark.

American National Standard Z590.2-2003 uses a two-column format to provide both basic requirements and implementing information. The left column, "Standard Requirements," addresses the central principles and is printed in bold type. The right column, "Implementing Information," offers various criteria or approaches whereby the basic requirement is carried out in whole or part by the methodology set forth and described in the I-Column.

Recognized job analysis methods are often used to derive the description of a practice in a field. Late in 2000, the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) completed a comprehensive job analysis study that involved about 1,500 safety professionals, most of who are members of ASSE. The study identified and then validated through a survey twenty-four responsibility statements that describe professional safety practice. Periodically, BCSP will conduct job analysis studies to ensure that the examinations leading to the Certified Safety Professional (CSP) designation accurately reflect what safety professionals do in practice. When one maps the responsibility statements from the BCSP study to the statements in this standard that describe the professional safety position, there is a strong correlation between the two sets of descriptions. As a result, most would conclude that results of BCSP’s comprehensive job analysis study of professional safety practice validate the descriptions of the professional safety position that appear in this standard. The BCSP study is cited in the standard’s reference list.


Northrup Grumman Emory Knowles
Board of Certified Safety Professionals Roger Brauer
Frost Controls, Inc. Robert Thomson
Board of Certified Professional Ergonomists Dieter Jahns
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Lynn Strother
National Safety Council Leo Carey
Patton Boggs, L.L.P. Adele Abrams
American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Anne R. Cox
U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration Kenneth Howard
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration Marthe Kent
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health David Votaw
Indiana University of Pennsylvania Sam Gualardo
American Industrial Hygiene Association Aaron Trippler
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Julius Jimeno
National Safety Management Society Carl Griffith
Integrated Project Management Co., Inc. L.E. Oldendorf
Alliance of American Insurers Keith Lessner
International Machinists and Aerospace Workers Michael Flynn
Office of King County Safety and Claims William Hager
National Ornamental/Misc. Metals Association J. Todd Daniel
Association for Manufacturing Technologies Charles Carlson
South Florida Water Mgt. District James Smith
Enercron Services Michael Kinney
Travelers Insurance Company John Cheffer
Council of Engineering and Scientific Specialty Boards William Anderson
Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology George Peterson
El Paso Natural Gas Company Fred Fleming
Wente and Associates Frank Wente
Granberry & Associates Edwin Granberry
RRS Engineering Thomas Lawrence
TOSCO Distribution Company Casey Conway
Professional Safety Consultants James Lapping
CNA Insurance Company William E. Phillips
Toledo Engineering Joseph Crawford
Southeastern Oklahoma State University Robert Semonisck
Construction Safety Council Thomas Broderick
International Chemical Workers Union Council Michael Sprinker
U.S. Army Safety Center Brenda Miller
American Petroleum Institute William Erny
Petroleum Education Council Jack Barnidge
Tower Automotive Jerry Williams
Cameron Corporation Frank Perry
Board of Certified Hazard Control Management Harold Gordon
Consultant Thomas Butler
Visteon Auto Systems Drake Drobnick
Frederic R. Harris, Inc Richard R. Bourlon
Hazards Limited Fred Manuele
American Foundrymen's Society, Inc. Jimmie Childress
Georgia Electric Membership Corporation Anthony Watkins
S&R Equipment Co., Inc Guy Butts
World Safety Organization Glenn Hudson
Protective Safety Services Fred Weidner
American Board of Occupational Health Nursing Sharon Kemerer
Texas State Technical College David Day
Vidal Engineering Keith Vidal
Lithko Contracting Mike Hayslip
USAA Hank Austin
Environmental Safety Specialist William Jaeger
Global Solutions Kathy Seabrook
Hoffman Construction Brian Clarke
University Nevada/Reno David Lee
Millersville University Paul Specht
Weatherford International Mark Hansen
Halliburton Company M.E. Greer
Consulting Safety Engineer Jack Vetter
Amoco Michael Thompson
Luckhardt Group Jack Luckhardt
Delphi Warren Brown
ISP Corporation Douglas Pastore
APIH Thomas Webb



  1. Preface:

Individuals practicing in the safety profession endorse a proactive approach to the issue of professional responsibility. Numerous national/state agencies, private sector organizations, and standards development bodies are attempting to establish limitations, parameters, and baseline competence including standardization, regulations, and legislation. This standard sets forth the paradigm for those entities that establish competencies for the practice of safety and for reciprocity agreements between national/state regulatory agencies, legislative bodies, private sector organizations, and national consensus standards development bodies.

  1. Scope - Purpose - Application
  • 2.1 Scope: This standard establishes the scope and functions of the professional safety position.
  • 2.2 Purpose: The purpose of this standard is to define the scope and functions of the professional safety position.
  • 2.3 Application: The intent of this standard is to consolidate in a clear and consistent manner an objective assessment of the professional safety position.
  • 2.3.1 Severability: If any of the provisions of this standard are deemed to be not applicable, the other requirements or recommendations of the standard shall still apply.
  • 2.3.2 The intent of the standard is to establish criteria of the professional safety position for use by employers, legislative bodies and regulatory agencies when establishing the responsibilities of individuals practicing in the safety profession and to provide assurance to the public.
  • 2.4 Interpretations: The intent of this standard is to provide insight into the professional safety position. Concerns, questions or inquiries should be directed to the secretariat.

I.2.4: Inquiries should be addressed to Secretary, ANSI Z590, ASSE, 1800 E. Oakton Street, Des Plaines, IL 60018.

  1. Scope and Functions of the Professional Safety Position: The scope and functions of the professional safety position shall be to:
  • Anticipate, identify and evaluate hazardous conditions and practices.
  • Develop hazard control designs, methods, procedures and programs.
  • Implement, administer and advise others on hazard controls and hazard control programs.
  • Measure, audit and evaluate the effectiveness of hazard controls and hazard control programs.

I.3: This standard specifically recognizes that the professional safety position is not all-encompassing and that there is a great need for specialties and expertise, including such professionals as industrial hygienists, occupational nurses, ergonomists, etc.

3.1 Anticipate, identify and evaluate hazardous conditions and practices, as implemented in whole or in part by the methodology cited in I.3.1.

I.3.1: This function involves:

I.3.1.1: Anticipating and predicting hazards from experience, historical data and other information sources.

I.3.1.2: Identifying and recognizing hazards in existing or future systems, equipment, products, software, facilities, processes, operations and procedures during their expected life.

I.3.1.3: Evaluating and assessing the probability and severity of loss events and accidents, which may result from actual or potential hazards.

I.3.1.4: Applying these methods and conducting hazard analyses and interpreting results.

I.3.1.5: Reviewing, with the assistance of specialists where needed, entire systems, processes and operational failure modes, causes and effects of the entire system, process or operation, or components due to:

  1. system, subsystem, or component failures
  2. human error
  3. incomplete or faulty decision-making, judgment or administrative actions; and/or
  4. weaknesses in proposed or existing policies, directives, objectives or practices.

I.3.1.6: Reviewing, compiling, analyzing and interpreting data from accident and loss event reports and other sources regarding injuries, illnesses, property damage, environmental effects or public impacts to:

  1. identify causes, trends and relationships;
  2. ensure completeness, accuracy and validity of required information
  3. evaluate the effectiveness of classification schemes and data collection methods; and/or
  4. initiate investigations

I.3.1.7: Providing advice and counsel about compliance with safety, health and environmental laws, codes, regulations and standards.

I.3.1.8: Conducting research studies of existing or potential safety and health problems and issues.

I.3.1.9: Determining the need for surveys and appraisals that help identify conditions or practices affecting safety and health, including those that require the services of specialists, such as physicians, health physicists, industrial hygienists, fire protection engineers, design and process engineers, ergonomists, risk managers, environmental professionals, psychologists and others.

I.3.1.10: Assessing environments, tasks and other elements to ensure that physiological and psychological capabilities, capacities and limits of humans are not exceeded.

3.2 Develop hazard control designs, methods, procedures and programs, as implemented in whole or in part by the methodology cited in I.3.2.

I.3.2: This function involves:

I.3.2.1: Formulating and prescribing engineering or administrative controls, preferably before exposures, accidents and loss events occur, in order to:

  1. eliminate hazards and causes of exposures, accidents and loss events
  2. reduce the probability and/or severity of injuries, illnesses, losses or environmental damage from potential exposures, accidents and loss events when hazards cannot be eliminated

I.3.2.2: Developing methods that integrate safety performance into the goals, operations and productivity of organizations and their management and into systems, processes, operations or their components.

I.3.2.3: Developing safety, health and environmental policies, procedures, codes and standards for integration into operational policies of organizations, unit operations, purchasing and contracting.

I.3.2.4: Consulting with and advising individual and participating on teams:

  1. engaged in planning, design, development and installation or implementation of systems or programs involving hazard controls.
  2. engaged in planning, design, development, fabrication, testing, packaging and distribution of products or services regarding safety requirements and application of safety principles that maximize product safety.

I.3.2.5: Advising and assisting human resource specialists when applying hazard analysis results or dealing with the capabilities and limitations of personnel.

I.3.2.6: Staying current with technological developments, laws, regulations, standards, codes, products, methods and practices related to hazard controls

3.3 Implement, administer and advise others on hazard control programs, as implemented in whole or in part by the methodology cited in I.3.2.

I.3.3: This function involves:

I.3.3.1: Preparing reports that communicate valid and comprehensive recommendations for hazard controls based on analysis and interpretation of accident, exposure, loss event and other data.

I.3.3.2: Using written and graphic materials, presentations and other communication media to recommend hazard controls and hazard control policies, procedures and programs to decision-making personnel

I.3.3.3: Directing or assisting in planning and developing educational and training materials or courses involving hazard recognition and control; and conducting or assisting with courses related to designs, policies, procedures and programs involving hazard recognition and control

I.3.3.4: Advising others about hazards, hazard controls, relative risk and related safety matters when they are communicating with the media, community and public.

I.3.3.5: Managing and implementing hazard controls and hazard control programs that are within the duties of the individual’s professional safety position.

3.4 Measure, audit and evaluate the effectiveness of hazard controls and hazard control programs as implemented in whole or part by the methodology cited in I.3.4.

I.3.4: This function involves:

I.3.4.1: Establishing and implementing techniques involving risk analysis, cost, cost-benefit analysis, work sampling, loss rate and similar methodologies for periodic and systematic evaluation of hazard control and hazard control program effectiveness.

I.3.4.2: Developing methods to evaluate the costs and effectiveness of hazard controls and programs and measure the contribution of components of systems, organizations, processes and operations towards the overall effectiveness.

I.3.4.3: Providing results of evaluation assessments, including recommended adjustments and changes to hazard controls or hazard control programs to individuals or organizations responsible for their management and implementation.

I.3.4.4: Directing, developing or helping to develop management accountability and audit programs that assess safety performance of entire systems, organizations, processes and operations or their components and involve both deterrents and incentives.

  1. References and References to Other Standards

4.1 Brochure: Scope and Functions of the Professional Safety Position, American Society of Safety Engineers, 1800 East Oakton Street, Des Plaines, IL 60018.

4.2 Job Analysis: Job Analysis Study for Certified Safety Professional Examinations, Board of Certified Safety Professionals, Savoy, IL 61874, BCSP Technical Report 2001-1, February 2001.


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