December 30, 1999
U.S. Department of Defense
The purpose of this letter is to provide comment from the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) addressing the DOD 11/9/99 Federal Register request for insight on the use of voluntary national consensus standards and OMB Circular A-119. To this end, we present the following:
ASSE serves as Secretariat of seven (7) American National Standards Institute Committees (ANSI) developing safety and health standards which are used by private sector organizations as well as state/Federal governmental agencies such as MSHA, OSHA, etc... ASSE members also sit on over forty (40) additional standards development committees and the Society sponsors educational sessions on standards development. The Society also has twelve (12) technical divisions consisting of: Construction, Consultants, Engineering, Environmental, Health Care, International, Management, Public Sector, Risk Management and Insurance, Mining, Industrial Hygiene, and Transportation. The ASSE members included in these divisions are leaders in their field with the knowledge and expertise needed to move safety and health forward on a global level, (Fact Sheet attached).
ASSE members working with defense related industries and contractors have pointed out that the DOD needs to carefully review its policies and procedures before moving forward with this initiative. The concern is that the elimination of military specifications could significantly increase product liability concerns for contractors. Due to the complexity of military applications and technology the issue for consideration is whether elimination of such specifications would open up contractors to litigation from anybody who could ever claim to be injured by a system or product failure.
Regardless of the military specification issue, and in the interest of good public policy, we suggest that the DOD should consider working with voluntary national consensus standards development organizations like the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), etc… Using voluntary national consensus standards would be a win-win approach since the Office of Management and Budget Circular #OMB A-119 and Public Law 104-113 call for the increased utilization of voluntary national consensus standards in federal regulatory rulemaking. We commend the DOD for being proactive on the issue of increased utilization of voluntary national consensus standards.
National consensus standards reflect the opinions of the professionals who work at all levels of the public and private sectors in technology development, manufacturing, training, financial analysis, personnel, academia as well as insight from the final end user. This balanced insight enables standards to be crafted in a way which not only benefits and protects users of the standard, but also furthers the interests of the businesses which need to meet user demand. ASSE advocates initiatives to encourage the utilization of national consensus standards as an effective/efficient option for meeting the demand of increased regulation/legislation in all venues of safety and health since:
We thank you for your attention to this matter, and look forward to working with you in the future. If you should have any questions or issues please do not hesitate to contact the Society.
Frank H. Perry, CSP, PE
Copy To: ASSE Board of Directors
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