I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all encountered and are familiar with “OSHA” and “ANSI” over the course of our careers. These two organizations have helped articulate and enact many of the accepted safety standards/regulations that maintain safe working conditions and compliance in the equipment we use, on a daily basis. OSHA and ANSI regulations affect every aspect of the entertainment industry, but do you know the difference between the two?
Signed into law in 1970, The Occupational Safety and Health Act was enacted by President Richard Nixon. Its purpose was to ensure industry and manufacturing sectors possessed the most effective safety protocols, and minimize the risk faced by workers in inherently hazardous environments.
Since its inception, OSHA has successfully developed comprehensive guidelines focused on worker safety, across virtually every vocation and industry. Stated on the United States Department of Labor’s website:
“…(OSHA) has the statutory authority to develop, promulgate and enforce occupational safety and health standards.”
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has an ambitious mission statement:
“To enhance both the global competitiveness of US business and the US quality of life by promoting and facilitating voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment systems, and safeguarding their integrity.”
ANSI helps to implement and oversee thousands of guidelines that are adopted by nearly every industry. Additionally, ANSI is active in assessing organizational development of the programs and protocols which foster adherence to these standards. ANSI is America’s representative to the International Standards Organization (ISO), which is responsible for the standardization of industrial materials, signage and protocols. ANSI pre-dates OSHA, and was founded in 1918.
OSHA & ANSI, Working together for workplace safety
• One of the biggest differences between the two is that ANSI is voluntary, while OSHA is a legal entity, capable of criminal prosecution. Its standards are law. These facts do not, in any way, diminish ANSI’s importance. On the contrary, a Memorandum of Understanding between OSHA and ANSI emphasizes the importance of ANSI, and OSHA’s acknowledgement that “…national consensus standards producing organizations, have an important role in the development of occupational safety and health standards…”
• Originally, ANSI was founded in 1918 with a different purpose than OSHA. ANSI was created when “…several societies of engineers banded together to reduce inefficiency in manufacturing processes by compiling standard methods and materials.” It seems at the time of its conception, the focus was on efficiency, rather than on safety.
• Although ANSI standards are voluntary, OSHA has the ability to make these mandatory through a process called “incorporation by reference”. Additionally, OSHA has the ability to cite companies for noncompliance with ANSI standards, even if they are not technically made law. Confusing? We know, but ANSI represents the general consensus of safety practices. Basically, why not adhere to safety standards in the best interest of your employees, regardless of their legal standing?
• Often, ANSI standards provide greater detail than OSHA’s legal standards, identifying more in-depth procedures specific to case by case applications in a more thorough way than OSHA addresses.
The importance of OSHA and ANSI cannot be overemphasized. Both organizations have put guidelines and standards in place to ensure that everyone goes home safely. As individuals, it is our responsibility to observe and practice these standards, on a daily basis. We hope this short blog will ignite conversations and make us all more vigilant to the enhancement of the overall safety on the next worksite that you, or your colleagues, find yourself.