Effective management of worker safety and health protection is a decisive factor in reducing the extent and severity of work-related injuries and illnesses and related costs. In 1982, OSHA began to approve worksites with exemplary safety and health management programs for participation in Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). More information on VPP can be obtained from your OSHA Regional or Area Office listed at the end of this publication.
In 1989, OSHA issued recommended guidelines for the effective management and protection of worker safety and health. These guidelines are summarized in the following paragraphs.
Employers are advised and encouraged to institute and maintain in their establishments a program that provides adequate systematic policies, procedures, and practices to protect their employees from, and allow them to recognize, job-related safety and health hazards.
An effective program includes provisions for the systematic identification, evaluation, and prevention or control of general workplace hazards, specific job hazards, and potential hazards that may arise from foreseeable conditions.
Although compliance with the law, including specific OSHA standards, is an important objective, an effective program looks beyond specific requirements of law to address all hazards. It will seek to prevent injuries and illnesses, whether or not compliance is at issue.
The extent to which the program is described in writing is less important than how effective it is in practice. As the size of a worksite or the complexity of a hazardous operation increases, however, the need for written guidance increases to ensure clear communication of policies and priorities as well as a consistent and fair application of rules.
An effective occupational safety and health program will include the following four main elements: management commitment and employee involvement, worksite analysis, hazard prevention and control, and safety and health training.
1. Management Commitment and Employee Involvement
The elements of management commitment and employee involvement are complementary and form the core of any occupational safety and health program. Management's commitment provides the motivating force and the resources for organizing and controlling activities within an organization. In an effective program, management regards worker safety and health as a fundamental value of the organization and applies its commitment to safety and health protection with as much vigor to other organizational goals.
Employee involvement provides the means by which workers develop and/or express their own commitment to safety and health protection for themselves and for their fellow workers.
In implementing a safety and health program, there are various ways to provide commitment and support by management and employees. Some recommended actions are described briefly as follows:
2. Worksite Analysis
A practical analysis of the work environment involves a variety of worksite examinations to identify existing hazards and conditions and operations in which changes might occur to create new hazards. Unawareness of a hazard stemming from failure to examine the worksite is a sign that safety and health policies and/or practices are ineffective. Effective management actively analyzes the work and worksite to anticipate and prevent harmful occurrences. The following measures are recommend to identify all existing and potential hazards:
3. Hazard Prevention and Control
Where feasible, workplace hazards are prevented by effective design of the job site or job. Where it is not feasible to eliminate such hazards, they must be controlled to prevent unsafe and unhealthful exposure. Elimination or control must be accomplished in a timely manner once a hazard or potential hazard is recognize. Specifically, as part of the program, employers should establish procedures to correct or control present or potential hazards in a timely manner. These procedures should include measures such as the following:
4. Safety and Health Training
Training is an essential component of an effective safety and health program. Training helps identify the safety and health responsibilities of both management and employees at the site. Training is often most effective when incorporated into other education or performance requirements and job practices. The complexity of training depends on the size and complexity of the worksite as well as the characteristics of the hazards and potential hazards at the site.
Employee training programs should be designed to ensure that all employees understand and are aware of the hazards to which they may be exposed and the proper methods for avoiding such hazards.
Supervisors should be trained to understand the key role they play in job site safety and to enable them to carry out their safety and health responsibilities effectively. Training programs for supervisors should include the following topics:
Copyright ©2000-2019 Geigle Safety Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Federal copyright prohibits unauthorized reproduction by any means without permission. Disclaimer: This material is for training purposes only to inform the reader of occupational safety and health best practices and general compliance requirement and is not a substitute for provisions of the OSH Act of 1970 or any governmental regulatory agency. CertiSafety is a division of Geigle Safety Group, Inc., and is not connected or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).