Course 617 Managing Safety and Health - General Industry

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

The Seven Core Elements


Thousands of responsible employers have used OSHA’s 1989 Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines as a blueprint for setting up an effective safety and health program. OSHA has recently updated the Guidelines for Safety and Health Programs to reflect changes in the economy, workplaces, and evolving safety and health issues. The updated guidelines found in OSHA Publication 3855 – Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs is the primary reference for this course.

OSHA regs
This is a good reference for updated OSHA guidelines.

The program model contains seven core elements:

  • Management Leadership
  • Worker Participation
  • Hazard Identification and Assessment
  • Hazard Prevention and Control
  • Education and Training
  • Program Evaluation
  • Multi-employer Communication and Coordination

The seven core elements in a Safety and Health Management Program are interrelated and are seen as part of an integrated system. Actions taken under one core element can (and likely will) affect actions needed under one or more other elements. For example, workers must be trained in reporting procedures and hazard identification techniques to be effective participants. Thus, the "Education and Training" core element supports the “Worker Participation” core element. Progress in each core element is essential to achieve maximum benefit from the program.

You will find implementing these recommended practices also brings other benefits. Safety and health programs help businesses:

  • prevent workplace injuries and illnesses
  • improve compliance with laws and regulations
  • reduce costs, including significant reductions in workers' compensation premiums
  • engage workers
  • enhance their social responsibility goals
  • increase productivity and improve overall business operations

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1. The seven core elements in a Safety and Health Management System are best viewed _____.

a. as separate programs
b. as independent plans
c. as part of an integrated system
d. as necessary to limit OSHA penalties

Management Leadership

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Management provides the leadership, vision, and resources needed to implement an effective safety and health program.

Management leadership means that business owners, managers, and supervisors do the following:

  • They make safety a core value, rather than "prioritizing" safety. Why? Priorities have a habit of changing, especially when the going gets tough. On the other hand, values do not ever change. As a value, safety, is reflected in this statement: "Safe production or no production."
  • Are fully committed to eliminating hazards, protecting workers, and continuously improving workplace safety and health. Managers don't just talk about it, they commit by taking action.
  • Provide sufficient resources (time, money, equipment, training, and people) such as purchasing top quality safety equipment and PPE.
  • They visibly demonstrate and communicate their safety and health commitment to workers and others.
  • They set an example through their actions. If managers and supervisors do not set the best examples, we cannot expect it from employees.

2. What is an example of how management can demonstrate real leadership to safety and health?

a. Prioritizing safety
b. Purchasing quality PPE
c. Telling employees they support safety
d. Ignoring unnecessary safety rules

Worker Participation

Worker Participation
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To be effective, workers and their representatives need to participate in safety and health programs.

Worker participation means workers are involved in establishing, operating, evaluating, and improving the safety and health program.

Here are some reasons why workers should participate in safety:

  • Workers have much to gain from a successful program, and the most to lose, if the program fails.
  • They often know the most about potential hazards associated with their jobs. Successful safety programs tap into this knowledge base.
  • All workers at a worksite should participate, including those employed by contractors, subcontractors, and temporary staffing agencies.

Retaliation Against Workers is Illegal

Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising a variety of rights guaranteed under the OSH Act, such as filing a safety and health complaint with OSHA, raising a health and safety concern with their employers, participating in an OSHA inspection, or reporting a work-related injury or illness. OSHA vigorously enforces the anti-retaliation protections provided under 11(c) of the OSH Act and other federal statutes. For more information, see

3. According to the OSH Act of 1970, which of the following actions may employees engage in without fear of employer retaliation?

a. Preventing others from doing a job
b. Reporting workers' compensation errors
c. Refusing to work due to a disagreement
d. Raising a safety and health concern

Hazard Identification and Assessment

Hazard ID
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One of the "root causes" of workplace injuries, illnesses, and incidents is the failure to identify or recognize hazards that are present, or otherwise anticipated.

A critical element of any effective safety and health program is a "proactive," ongoing process to identify and assess such hazards. Hazard identification and assessment are proactive because they are processes that occur before someone gets hurt.

Effective hazard identification and assessment includes:

  • Procedures are put in place to identify workplace hazards and evaluate risks continually.
  • Safety and health hazards from routine, non-routine, and emergencies are identified and assessed.
  • An initial assessment of existing hazards, exposures, and control measures is followed by periodic inspections and reassessments, to identify new hazards.
  • Non-injury incidents are investigated with the goal to identify root causes.
  • Identified hazards are prioritized for control.

4. Why is hazard identification and assessment considered a "proactive" process?

a. They occur before someone gets hurt
b. They respond to injuries in a timely manner
c. They are part of the accident investigation procedure
d. They prevent the need for reactive processes
Hazard Prevention
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Hazard Prevention and Control

Hazard prevention and control processes are conducted after hazards are identified and assessed. They help employers prevent existing and potential hazards and eliminate or otherwise control hazards in the workplace.

  • Employers and workers cooperate to identify and select methods for eliminating, preventing, or controlling workplace hazards.
  • Controls are selected per the “Hierarchy of Controls” that first try to eliminate hazards. We’ll discuss more on this topic later.
  • Plans are developed to ensure controls are implemented, interim protection is provided, progress is tracked, and the effectiveness of controls is verified.

Effective hazard prevention and control methods protect workers and have the following benefits:

  • Eliminate or reduce workplace hazards.
  • Help avoid injuries, illnesses, and incidents.
  • Minimize or eliminate safety and health risks.
  • Help employers provide workers with safe and healthful working conditions.

5. What is the first priority in the "Hierarchy of Controls" to prevent hazards in the workplace?

a. Administrative controls
b. Elimination
c. Engineering controls
d. Personal Protective Equipment

Safety and Health Education

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Safety and health education, through general instruction and technical training, is important for informing workers and managers about workplace hazards and controls so they can work more safely and be more productive.

  • General safety instruction tells employees why safety is important through lecture, videos, discussions, etc.
  • Technical safety training shows them how to do the task or procedure safely. Technical training requires demonstration and practice to make sure workers gain the required skills to work safely. On-the-Job Training (OJT) is one of the most effective methods used to teach and verify skills.

It is important to emphasize both instruction and technical training. If employees do not know why safety is important, they are less likely to care working safely.

Safety and health education also provides workers and managers with a greater understanding of the safety and health program itself, so they can contribute to its development and implementation.

Effective safety and health education programs have the following characteristics:

  • All workers are trained to understand how the program works and how to carry out their responsibilities under the program.
  • Employers, managers, and supervisors receive training on safety concepts and their responsibilities to protect workers’ rights and respond to workers’ reports and concerns.
  • All workers are trained to recognize workplace hazards and to understand the control measures that are implemented.

6. Which of the following is one of the most effective technical safety training methods?

a. Lecture and orientation
b. Online training and webinars
c. Videos and group discussion
d. On-the-job training (OJT)

Program Evaluation and Improvement

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Once a safety and health program has been established, it should be evaluated initially to verify it is implemented as intended. Employers should periodically, which means at least annually, step back, assess the program. Employers should assess what is working and is not working, and assess whether the program is on track to achieve its goals.

Whenever these assessments identify opportunities to improve the program, management should adjust and monitor how well the program performs.

Sharing the results of monitoring and evaluation within the workplace, and celebrating successes, will help drive further improvement.

Effective program evaluation and improvement include the following characteristics:

  • Programs are analyzed, evaluated, and improved by using leading indicators.
  • Control measures are evaluated for effectiveness periodically.
  • Processes are established to monitor program performance, verify program implementation, and identify program shortcomings improvement opportunities.
  • The program and overall safety and health performance are improved by taking necessary actions.

7. In effective safety and health programs, the periodic evaluation and improvement process occurs _____.

a. continually
b. quarterly
c. at least annually
d. every five years

Multi-employer Communication and Coordination

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In today’s economy, staffing agencies assign an increasing number of workers to work at specific “host” worksites under the host employer's direction and control.

Examples include seasonal workers, such as delivery drivers and warehouse workers, who help fill temporary staffing needs. In these situations, the staffing agency and the host employer need to communicate and coordinate to provide and maintain a safe work environment for their workers.

Some workers are employed by a host employer and others by a contractor or subcontractor in other situations.

Examples include electrical or mechanical contractors working in a facility, a vendor installing or maintaining equipment, or long-term contractors providing building cleaning and maintenance. In these circumstances, each employer and contractor must consider how its work and safety activities can affect the safety of other employers and workers at the site.

Characteristics of effective multi-employer communication and coordination include:

  • Host employers, contractors, and staffing agencies commit to providing the same level of safety and health protection to all employees.
  • Staffing agencies provide general safety education to temporary employees and host employers provide specific technical training for required tasks and procedures.
  • Host employers, contractors, and staffing agencies communicate the hazards present at the worksite and the hazards that contract workers may create on site.
  • Host employers establish specifications and qualifications for contractors and staffing agencies.
  • Before beginning work, host employers, contractors, and staffing agencies coordinate work planning and scheduling to identify and resolve conflicts that could affect safety or health.

8. On multi-employer worksites, who is responsible for providing technical training for specific tasks and procedures?

a. Host employers
b. Staffing agencies
c. Contractors
d. Third-party providers
OSHA regs
There are two different approaches to managing workplace safety and health.

Continuous Improvement

The seven program elements discussed in this module emphasize a proactive approach to managing workplace safety and health. Unfortunately, traditional methods focus on a reactive approach. Let's look at the difference between the two approaches.

  • A reactive approach: Traditional approaches are often reactive - that is, actions are pnly taken after a worker is injured or becomes sick, a new standard or regulation is published, or an outside inspection finds a problem that must be corrected.
  • A proactive approach: Finding and fixing hazards before they cause injury or illness is a far more effective approach. Doing so avoids the direct and indirect costs of worker injuries and illnesses, and promotes a positive work environment.

The concept of continuous improvement is central to an effective safety and health culture and related programs. W. Edwards Deming championed a continuous improvement process that became known as the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) Cycle. We will take a closer look at this process in the next module.

9. In which approach to continuous improvement will solutions emphasize preventing hazards and accidents?

a. Integrated approach
b. Reactive approach
c. Hierarchy approach
d. Proactive approach

The Benefits


Responsible employers know the primary goal of a safety and health program is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths, and the suffering and financial hardship these events can cause for workers, their families, and their employers.

Employers may find effectively implementing the best practices described in each of these core elements brings other benefits as well such as:

  • There are improvements in product, process, and service quality.
  • It creates higher workplace morale. If management cares, employees are more likely to care.
  • It creates improved employee recruiting and retention.
  • There is a more favorable image and reputation as an industry leader (among customers, suppliers, and the community).
  • There is a better relationship with regulatory agencies. They will perceive the company as a "good player."

10. The main goal of a safety and health program is to _____ workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths.

a. decrease
b. prevent
c. monitor
d. solve

Check your Work

Read the material in each section to find the correct answer to each quiz question. After answering all the questions, click on the "Check Quiz Answers" button to grade your quiz and see your score. You will receive a message if you forgot to answer one of the questions. After clicking the button, the questions you missed will be listed below. You can correct any missed questions and check your answers again.

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