Getting Involved in Standards

Voluntary national consensus standards are used by companies and organizations to reference state-of-the-art practices and technology to create the safest and healthiest work environments for employees. ASSE members such as Loui McCurley use these standards every day and have been involved in their creation. McCurley is a member of the Colorado Chapter, Women in Safety Engineering and the Construction Practice Specialty as well as a former member of the Z359 Fall Protection Standards Committee, is quoted.

ASTM International recently published a feature story in ASTM Standardization News about women in standards titled “In Their Own Words.” The article shares stories from women leaders in safety and other professions about why standards are important and how they are used their work. As CEO of Pigeon Mountain Industries Inc., a life safety rope and equipment manufacturer, McCurley understands the importance of standards for the workplace.

“My work is an outflow of my passions and my life. I would drive local climbing shop owners crazy asking technical questions about ropes and equipment,” she says in the article. “At the time, there was very little standardization in rescue equipment and reporting, and almost no field data so I founded a nonprofit research and testing lab to answer my own questions. I wanted to be able to more effectively calculate safety factors and predict system performance in the field. Then I took on a technical role at PMI, writing standards and other technical documents, doing testing, and representing the company in standards and industry organizations. Now I serve as CEO, and standards and technical excellence are still a big priority for me.”

Like McCurley, many ASSE members passionate about safety get involved with development of national consensus standards through ASSE. Those interested in making a difference by promoting best safety practices can learn about getting involved in standards development. ASSE is represented on committees that develop and maintain safety standards. Representatives are selected from interested applicants based on their technical expertise in each committee’s subject area, ability to represent the broad range of ASSE’s membership and overall knowledge of the OSH profession.

The ANSI/ASSE Z16 Committee on Leading and Lagging Indicators recently met to discuss updating the standard. The original Z16 standards were developed in the 1950s and this committee is working to update the standards, better understand lagging indicators and track leading indicators. ASSE representatives on standards have the opportunity to review written proposals to change safety standards and vote on a standard’s final approval. These committees are essential because they give companies and organizations best practices and update existing standards to better reflect the modern workplace. Many representatives also share their knowledge by writing about standards in ASSE publications, giving presentations and consulting with other members who have standards-related questions.

Members of the ANSI/ASSE Z16 committee