We’ve written about the upcoming Z490.2 standard for online EHS training twice already. In the first article, we explained the structure of the upcoming Z490.2 standard. In the second article, we discussed the relationship of the upcoming Z490.2 standard to the existing Z490.1 standard for EHS training, summarized the research on the effectiveness of online learning, and gave tips for creating a blended learning solution for EHS training.
Since then, the writers of the Z490.2 standard have made a lot of progress.
First, and most importantly, the Z490.2 Subcommittee members (the folks writing Z490.2) have completed their initial draft of the standard. They have now advanced that draft to the Z490 Committee, and those committee members will review and consider passing the standard as-is or sending it back to the Z490.2 Subcommittee with some revisions requests. This is definitely a significant milestone in the creation of Z490.2.
Second is a note about the formatting of the standard. If you’re familiar with the structure of a typical American National Standard, there’s a column on the left that includes mandatory requirements that use the word “shall” and a column on the right that includes examples and suggestions that use the words “should” or “may.” During most of the process of writing Z490.2, the Subcommittee members were creating a two-columned standard that fits this traditional pattern. At some point in the process, however, the Z490.2 Subcommittee members were informed that we should change to a single-column structure. The standard still includes “shall” and “should” statements to note requirements and recommendations, but they’re both included in the same column (distinguished by the use of the words “shall” and/or “should” as well as by a helpful “Notes” division).
And that brings us to the final point: there was a healthy amount of debate about when to use the word “shall” instead of “should” in general, about every particular use of those two words in particular, and about the overall ratio of times the words “shall” and “should” were used in general. One argument in favor of using “shall” is it provides more direct and explicit guidance for online EHS training; one argument against the use of “shall” in some cases was that it could create a situation in which it was difficult for an organization using the standard to be in full compliance. Another issue that was mentioned in this context was the quickly shifting technological landscape that we live in, and how that may affect decisions today and in the future (consider for example that the standard is focused on eLearning courses and the use of a learning management system but the authors are well aware of all sorts of new technologies that are or will soon be used for EHS training—learning record stores, the Experience API, virtual reality, augmented reality, chatbots, learning experience platforms, big data, and more (for additional context on this issue, check this article on Disruptive Technologies and the Future of Learning and Development).
As the Z490.2 draft goes through the approval and revision process, we’ll keep you updated, so look for more information on the ANSI Blog in the future. And please leave any comments, questions, or suggestions below.
Contributing Author: Jeff Dalto, Senior Learning & Development Specialist, Convergence Training | RedVector
Jeff Dalto is a member of the Subcommittee creating the Z490.2 standard as well as the Z490 Committee that will vote to approve the standard. He is the Senior Learning & Development Specialist for Convergence Training | RedVector, which is a Vector Solutions brand. Jeff is an OSHA authorized 10- and 30-hour general industry trainer; holds a General Industry Safety Specialist certificate from the University of Washington; presents about safety, safety training, and issues related to learning at state and national conferences; and writes the Convergence Training blog, where you can read his most recent update on the creation of Z490.2 (watch for more in the future as well).