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Occupational Injuries and Illnesses

A new ASTM International standard will provide a uniform international method for recording occupational injuries and illnesses, in order to make global performance comparisons of companies in keeping workers safe. E2920, Guide for Recording Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, was developed by Subcommittee E34.80 on Industrial Health, part of ASTM International Committee E34 on Occupational Health and Safety.

“In a global economy it is important to have performance metrics that apply internationally,” says Thomas J. Slavin, consulting industrial hygienist, Cardno ChemRisk and chairman of E34. “For occupational injury and illness rates, there were no international criteria. Several countries have established rules for recording work-related injuries and illnesses that vary widely and are not comparable.”

According to Steve Newell, principal consultant, ORCHSE Strategies LLC, and E34.80 chairman, E2920 will establish a common denominator system that includes injuries most countries already record. Therefore, no new system will need to be developed, and existing records can be used to establish historical trends by identifying cases that qualify under the new criteria.

E2920 will be helpful to multinational companies by enabling globally consistent safety performance evaluation. Slavin says E2920 will be used in the following ways:

  • Global companies will use it for comparison of operations across countries on a unified scale;
  • Sustainability researchers will use it for safety aspects of evaluations; and
  • Regulatory and research organizations will be able to make informed comparisons of country-to-country safety and health programs.

In addition to guidelines within the standard, E2920 contains an appendix with specific cases and questions to allow users to build a library of interpretations and clarifications. Users may also submit to E34.80 information for specific situations that may require interpretation, to be addressed in the appendix of future revisions of E2920.

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CONTACT Technical Information: Thomas J. Slavin, Cardno ChemRisk • Chicago, Ill. • Phone: 312-863-2350 | Steve Newell, ORCHSE Strategies LLC, Washington D.C. • Phone: 202-510-0513 | ASTM Staff: Kevin Shanahan • Phone: 610-832-9737 | Upcoming Meeting: Oct. 8-9 • October Committee Week • New Orleans, La.

This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.