Effective EHS Training: ANSI’s Z490.1 Standard Spells It Out For You

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(Note: ANSI and ASSE recently published a revised version of ANSI Z490.1–the 2016 version. This article is based on the new, revised, 2016 version.)

Many companies spend a lot of time, effort, and money trying to maintain high standards for the environment, health, and safety (EHS).

And this often involves an EHS training component, as it should.

For one thing, OSHA, MSHA, and similar regulatory agencies require EHS training at the workplace in many different circumstances. The regulations make it clear enough when training is required.

Beyond requiring you to perform training, OSHA tells you that EHS training should be effective, they tell that you need to ensure it’s effective (through some form of assessment), and they tell you to provide it in a language the employee understands.

And MSHA is pretty explicit about how long the training on various subjects should last, and has some explicit rules about trainers.

But even with all that known information, it’s not always clear exactly how to create effective EHS training. That’s not spelled out in the regulations. But fortunately, we’ve got ANSI Z490.1 for that.

ANSI Z490.1, titled “Criteria for Accepted Practices in Safety, Health and Environmental Training,” provides a national standard for creating, maintaining, and evaluating an EHS training program. Handy, huh?

So let’s dig into ANSI Z490.1 and see what’s it’s all about. In this article, we’re going to give you a general overview of the entire standard. And we’ll follow up with more articles that look at each additional section in closer detail.

Otherwise, let’s start talking about ANSI Z490.1, shall we?


First, let’s deal with some common questions.

Common Questions about ANSI and ANSI Standards

What is ANSI?

ANSI is the American National Standards Institute. Also, they are “a private, non-profit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standards and conformity assessment system.” (I snagged that quote from their web page.) Read more about ANSI at their FAQs page or check out this ANSI Overview they created.

Do ANSI standards have the power of law?

No, not by themselves. But in some cases, a regulatory agency may include an ANSI standard within its own standard, stating that people should follow the ANSI standard in given circumstances. OSHA calls this incorporation by reference. ANSI has created a portal for its standards that have been incorporated by reference.

Can compliance (or non-compliance) with an ANSI standard be brought up in court cases?

Yes. Complying with an ANSI standard may help you if you wind up in court. Not complying with an ANSI standard may hurt you in court.

Common Questions about ANSI Z490.1

So what’s ANSI Z490.1?

It’s a national standard created to provide guidelines for safety, health, and environmental training. Basically, its creators took accepted practices in the training industry and put them into an EHS context.

Who created ANSI Z490.1?

An ANSI/ASSE task force. ASSE, in case you don’t know, is the American Society of Safety Engineers. Pretty credible folks on the topic of EHS.

When was ANSI Z490.1 last revised?

Version 4 was just published in 2016.

The previous version (Version 3) was published in 2009.

Where can I find and read ANSI Z490.1?

Here’s Z490.1. Note that this isn’t free. The 2016 version will set you back $77 for a PDF.

How many sections does ANSI Z490.1 include and what are they?

It has seven different sections and is forty-five pages long. Those sections are:

  1. Scope, Purpose, and Application
  2. Definitions
  3. Management of a Comprehensive Training Program
  4. Training Development
  5. Training Delivery
  6. Training Evaluation
  7. Documentation and Record Keeping

There are also four annexes:

  1. References
  2. Training Course Development Guidelines
  3. EHS Trainer’s Checklist
  4. Virtual Learning (this is new to the 2016 version and wasn’t included in the 2009 version)

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What does ANSI Z490.1 say about training development?

The standard covers training development in section 4.

This section says that training development should be a systematic process including:

  • Performing a training needs assessment
  • Creating learning objectives
  • Designing the course/training
  • Developing a training evaluation strategy
  • Specifying criteria for training completion
  • Creating and enacting a plan for continuous improvement of the training

Don’t forget, this is all covered in more detail in our full-length article about section 4.

What does ANSI Z490.1 say about training delivery?

The standard covers training delivery in section 5.

This section covers the importance of:

  • Trainer qualifications, including:
    • Subject matter expertise
    • Training delivery skills
    • Continuing education
    • Documentation of qualifications
  • Training delivery methods and materials, including:
    • Trainer planning and preparation
    • Managing the learning environment
    • Effective use of delivery methods and materials
    • Training evaluation

Don’t forget, this is all covered in more detail in our full-length article about section 5.

What does ANSI Z490.1 say about training evaluation?

The standard covers training evaluation in section 6.

In this section, the ANSI standard stresses the importance of evaluating your EHS training courses and program, including:

  • General criteria, including:
    • Establishing evaluation methods during training development
    • Evaluating the trainee’s ability to satisfy the learning objectives
    • Creating reliable and valid evaluation measures
    • Criteria for successful completion of training
    • Furnishing trainees with results of evaluation
    • Creating procedures for evaluation alternatives to assist or retrain trainees who don’t initially satisfy the learning object
    • Identifying all trainees individually
    • Complying with relevant industry standards and regulations
  • Training evaluation approaches, including:
    • Trainee reaction surveys
    • Evaluation of trainee knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes
    • Observation of on-the-job performance post-training
    • Linking training to organizational results

Don’t forget, this is all covered in more detail in our full-length article about section 6.

Deliver. Report. Manage. Convergence Training EHS Course Library

Where can I read more about ANSI Z490.z and effective EHS training?

Well, we recommend you buy a copy, which will cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $77 US. You can buy it here.

In addition, you can download the free guide below. It’s a guide to Effective EHS Training, is based on ANSI Z490.1, and includes a lot of additional resources as well. Just click that big black button down there. (Note: We’re in the process of updating our materials as a result of the new 2016 version–the guide below is based on 2009, but is still valuable. We’ll update it soon.)

Also, here are a series of links that lead to the rest of the articles in this series if  you want to go that route. Again, we’re in the process of updating each of these articles now.

Hope you found that helpful, and don’t forget to check out the whole series and to download the free guide below.

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Effective EHS Training: A Step-by-Step Guide

Learn how to design, create, deliver, and evaluate effective EHS training by following these best practices with our free step-by-step guide.

Download Free Guide

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Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto is an Instructional Designer and the Senior Learning & Development Specialist at Convergence Training. Jeff has worked in education/training for more than twenty years and in safety training for more than ten. You can follow Jeff at LinkedIn as well.

2 thoughts on “Effective EHS Training: ANSI’s Z490.1 Standard Spells It Out For You

  1. Hello,
    I would like to know of the international experience,if you know of any, in assimilating that standard.
    Thank you.

    1. Avi,

      I personally have not worked with a non-US customer to integrate Z490.1, but there’s nothing specific to being a US company within it.

      We plan on writing some additional, more in-depth materials on this. Keep your eye on our blog and maybe we’ll come out with something that might help you.

      Thanks for the question.

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