OSHA defines safety management as, “the recommended practices that emphasize a proactive approach to managing workplace safety and health. Traditional approaches are often reactive – that is, actions are taken only 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. 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.”
In a nutshell, safety management means making your safety efforts forward-thinking. Traditional safety management efforts, on the other hand, often look only at incidents, meaning they’re backward-focused and reactive. This is similar to the distinction between lagging and leading safety indicators for safety measurement.
The primary goal of a safety management program is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths (and all their secondary consequences, such as the hardship these incidents place on employees, their families and friends, the community, and employers). But safety management will provide more benefits than just that. As an example of direct benefits, OSHA’s guideline offers these sample statistics from a study of smaller employers in Ohio who worked with OSHA’s SHARP program to adopt safety management principles:
– 52% decrease in workers’ compensation claims
– 80% decrease in cost per claim
– 87% decrease in average lost time per claim
– 88% decease in claims per million dollars in payroll
The benefits don’t stop with the direct results. In fact, OSHA claims that the financial value of the indirect benefits are larger in scale than the direct benefits.
These indirect benefits include things like:
– Time lost due to work stoppage
– Time lost due to incident investigations
– Training & other costs necessary to replace injured workers
– Property loss and damage
According to OSHA, these indirect costs have been estimated to be at least 2.7 times greater than the direct costs.
Employers may find that implementing these recommended practices brings other benefits as well. The renewed or enhanced commitment to safety and health and the cooperative atmosphere between employers and workers have been linked to:
– Improvements in product, process, and service quality
– Better workplace morale
– Improved employee recruiting and retention
– A more favorable image and reputation (among customers, suppliers, and the community)