Course 617 Managing Safety and Health - General Industry

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

Getting Started


When you get off on the right foot, it helps ensure the safety management system and programs work effectively. Here are some important points to remember:

Set safety and health as a core corporate value – not just a priority.

To understand what we mean by the statement above, let’s take a closer look at the definitions of “values,” and “priorities,” and then look at the difference between the two concepts.

  • Values: Values are deeply held principled beliefs that do not change with circumstances. Values reflect a person’s ethics, morals, and codes of behavior. If you see a list of values, they will not be listed by importance. All the values are considered equally important.
  • Priorities: If a person regards something as more important than another, it is a priority. The most important things will be given higher priority and greater attention. A prioritized list will always be numbered with higher priority things listed first.
  • Values vs. Priorities: The two primary differences between values and priorities are:
    1. Values do not change. This statement important, especially when the "going gets tough." For instance, if a project was behind schedule, safety would not be ignored to meet a deadline.
    2. Priorities do change. As circumstances change, so do priorities. If safety procedures are ignored or modified in the attempt to keep a schedule, you know safety is merely a priority and not a value.

You have all seen the “Safety First” sign in the workplace. It is a value statement written as a priority. If the company does not actually keep safety first, in words and actions, employees will be reminded each time they see a sign that management does not live up to its values. Consequently, the safety culture of the company will suffer.

A few examples of safety expressed as a value include:

  • Safety is a part of everyone’s job description and is included in performance appraisals.
  • Management complies with the same safety rules as employees – no exceptions.
  • Accountability applies equally to all employees: bottom to top.

1. How do you know something is management’s core value?

a. Because management says it is
b. It does not change when the going gets tough
c. Because it receives top priority
d. It is stated as part of a written program

Lead by Example

Kevin Burns - Safety is the New Leadership.

Practice safe behaviors yourself and make safety part of your daily conversations with workers. It is important to practice and discuss safety regularly to make sure managers and supervisors are displaying effective leadership.

Ask these important questions to determine if you, as a manager or supervisor, are demonstrating leadership by example:

Supervision: Have I provided adequate safety oversight? I'm not stuck in my office all day. I'm overseeing their work regularly so I'm able to detect and correct unsafe behaviors and hazardous conditions before they cause an injury.

Training: Have I provided (or has the employee received) quality safety training? The employee has the required knowledge and skills to comply. The employee understands the natural and system consequences of noncompliance.

Accountability: Have I applied safety accountability fairly and consistently in the past? The employee knows he or she will be disciplined if caught.

Resources: Have I provided the tools, equipment, PPE, fall protection and other resources to do that job safely? Tools, equipment, machinery, PPE, etc. are always in good working order.

Support: Have I provided adequate psychosocial support that promotes working safe? Do I give employees enough time to work safely? Do they know I am tough on safety because I care about them and their success?

If you, as managers or supervisors can honestly answer "yes" to each of the above questions, you are fulfilling your very important responsibilities and demonstrating effective leadership by example.

2. If you detect and correct unsafe behaviors and hazardous conditions before they cause an injury, that’s good _____.

a. compliance
b. training
c. accountability
d. supervision

Implement Reporting System


Develop and communicate a simple procedure for workers to report any injuries, illnesses, incidents (including near misses/close calls), hazards, or safety and health concerns, without fear of retaliation. Let’s look at some ways management can help make reporting safety issues effective.

  • Positive responses and recognition when employees report safety concerns, hazards, near misses, and injury accidents sends a message of appreciation to employees and helps to build trust: a critical requirement.
  • It is important managers and supervisors respond in a timely manner to reports, especially those that involve injury accidents and serious hazards that could cause injury. Regardless of the nature of the report, it is equally important to thank employees for reporting every time.


You may read it is important to allow employees to report hazards or concerns anonymously, and in some instances, that is true. But remember, everything we do sends a message to someone.

What is the message when we allow or encourage anonymous reporting? It tells employees they may have a good reason not to trust management.

In a world-class safety culture where trust exists, employees would not think to report anonymously because, without a doubt, management will positively recognize them every time they report. Trust between employees and management will increase reporting, which represents a leading indicator of effective safety management.

3. Why is it so important to give positive recognition when employees report hazards, near-misses, incident and injuries?

a. It makes management look good
b. It builds trust with managers
c. It helps maintain anonymity
d. It keeps gossip to a minimum

Provide Safety Education


Of course, it's important to properly train all workers on how to identify and control hazards in the workplace. However, too often, "training" takes a back seat to other operational priorities, which is one of the primary reasons the company may have a poor safety record.

There are two basic types of safety education: general instruction and technical training.

  • General instruction: This form of education includes new employee orientation, safety meetings, and general information. Emphasis is placed on gaining knowledge. Written tests are adequate for student evaluation.
  • Technical training: Technical training involves teaching employees how to do something. Emphasis is placed on practice to gain adequate skills to do the job safely. In addition to written tests, evaluating both knowledge and skills requires student demonstration.

When OSHA shows up at your workplace to conduct routine inspections or accident investigations, what do you think might be the first safety area they look at? If you said, "training," that is correct!

Why would OSHA first look at your safety training program? Because they know it is the program most likely to be inadequate, or the root cause for an accident. Make sure your safety training program is formal (in writing) and well-documented. Here is how to document training:

  • Attendance rosters: For orientations and classroom instruction of general safety information, an attendance roster will be adequate.
  • Certification: For specific technical training, especially when it involves hazardous materials or procedures, ensure the training is documented using a formal certification process. Trainers should certify students have demonstrated adequate knowledge and skills in the learning environment. Next, supervisors should certify their employees have gained adequate knowledge and skills on the job. The certification should be in writing.

For more information on safety training programs take OSHAcademy courses 703 Introduction to OSH Training, 721 Developing OSH Training, and 723 Conducting OSH Training.

4. Which of the methods below is adequate for technical safety training of hazardous procedures?

a. Written certification of knowledge and skills
b. Written attendance roster
c. Formal test results of topics covered
d. Supervisor verification of attendance

Conduct Inspections


Employees should inspect the materials, the equipment, the tools they use, and their immediate workstation for hazardous conditions at the start of each workday. They should inspect equipment such as forklifts, trucks, and other vehicles before using them at the beginning of each shift. Again, it is better to inspect closely and often.

Inspection Checklists: Use checklists, such as those included in OSHA's Small Business Handbook (PDF), to help identify problems.

If you are asked to write questions for a safety inspection, use the following steps:

  • Determine the area to be inspected.
  • Ask workers in the area what tasks/jobs they do.
  • Ask them to send you a copy of the applicable rules.
  • When you receive the rules (don't panic), read through the applicable sections and mark those rules that you think might result in serious injury if violated.
  • Change each marked rule into a simple question. Questions will start with the words: Do, does, is, are.
  • Construct your checklist using the questions you developed.
  • Be careful your checklists do not cause "tunnel vision" in which hazards can be missed if they are not listed on the checklist.

By its very nature, the walk-around inspection, as a process, is ineffective in uncovering most of the causes of accidents (unsafe behaviors). This is because most inspectors look primarily at hazardous conditions and do not take enough time to watch and analyze work procedures effectively. Sometimes the inspectors walk into an area, look up, look down, look all around, and possibly ask a few questions, and move on to the next work area.

It is possible to inspect a work area on Monday, and then experience a fatality on Tuesday because of unsafe work behavior that the inspection failed to uncover the day before. The solution is to take your time when inspecting, watch work being done, and ask questions.

5. Which of the following is the primary reason walk-around safety inspectors fail to detect most of the surface causes of accidents?

a. Workers give inspectors tunnel vision
b. Inspectors ignore unsafe behaviors
c. Workers are careful when inspectors are present
d. Inspectors look primarily at conditions

Collect Hazard Control Ideas


In addition to the walk-around inspection, other strategies can effectively obtain ideas from employees to improve safety in the workplace.

  • The Job Hazard Analysis: The Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) is an important process that helps collect ideas for controlling hazards in the analyzed jobs. Employee involvement in the JHA development process also helps ensure they will use the safe job procedure developed by the JHA when not directly supervised. Employees want to work efficiently, which means they are more likely to use procedures they believe will get the job done most efficiently.
  • Suggestion program: The employee safety suggestion program is another excellent way to collect ideas from employees. Employees who work every day performing hazardous jobs, or working in hazardous work areas, will gain experience and insight into how the hazards they encounter can be eliminated or controlled.
  • Incident investigation: Near misses and non-injury incident investigations can be helpful opportunities for gathering facts. They are both reactive and proactive. They are reactive because they occur after an incident occurs and they are proactive because they occur before someone is injured.
  • Accident investigation: Although this process does not start until after an injury accident has occurred, it can still be very effective in identifying and controlling hazards to prevent future accidents. Unfortunately, many times someone gets hurt and the company suffers even before initiating this activity.

6. Why is it smart to involve employees in the JHA development process?

a. It saves a lot of money by using employees
b. They will be more likely to use the procedure
c. Anyone can understand the procedure
d. Most JHAs require employee involvement

Implement Hazard Controls

Assign workers the task of choosing, implementing, and evaluating the solutions they produce. When implementing hazard controls, or any change for that matter, you must take small steps. This idea is central to Deming’s PDSA Cycle as described in the image below.

PDSA Cycle

As you can see, the first step is to design and develop hazard control strategies. Base your design on objective facts and best practices within the industry.

Next, implement the control strategies in a limited manner. If you have many facilities, implement the control strategy in one facility (unless an imminent danger situation exists).

See how the control strategy has improved the process or work area. If the control strategy works, then move on to the next step. If it doesn’t work, revise the change or throw it out and start over.

If the control strategy works, then adopt it in all relevant locations. It is also important to conduct a follow-up analysis by moving on, once again, to the cyle's first step.

7. In Deming’s PDSA cycle, what is true about making changes to the safety and health program?

a. Make small changes
b. Make many changes because one of them will work
c. Don't make a change until it is verified
d. Keep changes even if they are not perfect

Address Emergencies


Identify foreseeable emergency scenarios and develop instructions on what to do in each case. Meet to discuss these procedures and post them in a visible location in the workplace.

  • Include a written Emergency Action Plan and a Fire Prevention Plan in your company’s safety and health program.
  • Make sure evacuation procedures are known and practiced by all employees.
  • Train employees on how to use fire extinguishers.
  • Train employees on first-aid/CPR procedures in case of medical emergencies.

Suppose the possibility of uncontrollable releases of hazardous substances or fire can occur at the workplace, and the employer expects employees to control those emergencies. In this case, a Hazardous Waste Emergency Response Plan (HAZWOPER) may be required.

For more information on emergency preparedness, check out OSHAcademy courses 717 Emergency Action Plans and 718 Fire Prevention Plans.

8. Which two plans are necessary to make sure the company is ready for emergencies?

a. Accident Investigation Plan, Evacuation Plan
b. Sustainability Plan, Workplace Violence Plan
c. Emergency Action Plan, Fire Prevention Plan
d. Fire Action Plan, Chemical Spill Plan

Partner with OSHA to Improve Workplace Safety Program


It is smart business for your company to partner with OSHA by participating in one or more of the programs below.

Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP)

This program recognizes small business employers who have used OSHA's On-site Consultation Program services and operate an exemplary injury and illness prevention program. Acceptance of your worksite into SHARP from OSHA is an achievement of status that singles you out among your business peers as a model for worksite safety and health.

The Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP)

These OSHA programs promote effective worksite-based safety and health. In the VPP, management, labor, and OSHA establish cooperative relationships at workplaces that have implemented a comprehensive safety and health management system. Approval into VPP is OSHA’s official recognition of the outstanding efforts made by employers and employees who have achieved exemplary occupational safety and health.

  • Star: Recognition for employers and employees who demonstrate exemplary achievement in the prevention and control of occupational safety and health hazards the development, implementation and continuous improvement of their safety and health management system.
  • Merit: Recognition for employers and employees who have developed and implemented good safety and health management systems but must take additional steps to reach Star quality.
  • Demonstration: Recognition for employers and employees who operate effective safety and health management systems that differ from current VPP requirements. This program enables OSHA to test the efficacy of different approaches.

9. Which program recognizes small business employers who have used OSHA's On-site Consultation Program services?

a. Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP)
b. Voluntary Protection Program (VPP)
c. OSHA Consultation Recognition Program (OCRP)
d. Small Employer Excellence in Safety Program (SEESP)

Participate in OSHA On-site Consultations

OSHA's On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential safety and occupational health advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country, with priority given to high-hazard worksites.

On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs.

The consultation is confidential and will not be reported routinely to the OSHA inspection staff. No citations or penalties are issued. Your only obligation is to correct serious job safety and health hazards--a commitment you are expected to make prior to the actual visit and carry out in a timely manner.

10. Which of the following is TRUE concerning OSHA on-site consultations?

a. they are inexpensive services provided by OSHA
b. they will not result in fines and penalties
c. they may not be confidential
d. they do not require the employer to correct serious hazards

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.

Final Exam
OSHAcademy Ultimate Guide Banner Ad