This is an older article and is based on materials OSHA created BEFORE they finalized their recent Safety and Health Management guidelines. This article still has a lot of useful information, and we encourage you to read it, but before you begin, know that you may also be interested in some of the following articles:
And with that said, we'll let you get back to this older article...
OSHA recommends that every workplace set up a Safety and Health Management program. The fact that OSHA says it's a good idea is a pretty persuasive reason to do it, we think.
But in addition, creating a safety and health management program also decreases incident rates, including injuries and illnesses. And that's good.
And health and safety management programs also have a financial benefit, saving companies money. So win/win/win, right?
In this article, we'll explain more fully some of the reasons for having a safety and health management program that we just introduced above. Then we'll explain the features of a safety and health management system. And we'll include information and helpful links to other resources that can help you create, implement, and maintain your safety and health management program.
By the time you're done reading this, you'll have enough information to get moving in a positive direction, or maybe add some additional tweaks to your existing health and safety management program.
Note: Much of the information in this article is drawn from OSHA's Safety and Health Management Systems e-tool, which is a great resource and which itself includes a lot of links to other great safety and health resources. Check it out!
According to OSHA:
"A safety and health management system is a proactive, collaborative process to find and fix workplace hazards before employees are injured or become ill. The benefits of implementing safety and health management systems include protecting workers, saving money, and making all your hazard-specific programs more effective. "
Sounds good, right?
According to OSHA, almost 50 people are injured on the job EVERY MINUTE of the 40-hour work week. Think about that--that's a lot!
Actually, that's so much we figured we'd do some math on that. It turns out we're talking about 36,000 injuries on the job every week, or 1,872,000 injuries on the job each year. If all those injured people had to move together to form a new city, they'd create the fifth biggest city in the United States--just behind Houston and ahead of Philadelphia.
The same OSHA document explains that 17 workers day on the job every day. Again, take a look at that number. Each day, 17 people never come home from work. Imagine what this does to their families, friends, and loved ones.
Again, we did some additional math with that one. That works out to 85 deaths on the job per week, or 4,420 deaths on the job each year. The town I grew up in had about 10,000 people, so that's about half of my home town. Or to put that a different way, just under 3,000 people died on 9-11, which means every year more people die at work in America than the number of people who died on 9-11. That's sobering when you think of it that way.
So yeah, there's a need for safety and health management programs at work. That seems obvious enough.
By creating a safety and health management program at work, you'll reap many benefits. Let's look at some now.
This one is a no-brainer. Let's look at a few statistics from OSHA to back to this:
"Since OSHA was created 28 years ago, workplace fatalities have been cut in half. Occupational injury and illness rates have been declining for the past five years. In 1997, they dropped to the lowest level since the U.S. began collecting this information."
Cutting workplace injuries fatalities in half is pretty impressive. And so are year-after-year declines of injuries and illnesses and lowest-ever-levels since data has been collected.
And how about this one?
"Our premier partnership, the Voluntary Protection Program continues to pay big dividends. Today [at] more than 500 workplaces, representing 180 industries....injury rates are 50 percent below the average for their industries."
Again, 50% is significant and worth noting.
According to OSHA, studies have shown that every dollar ($1) invested in health and safety has an ROI of $4-6. You'd jump at that if a bank were offering that kind of return for your own money. Why not make the same no-brainer investment in health and safety?
And how about this fact from OSHA:
"Our premier partnership, the Voluntary Protection Program, continues to pay big dividends. Today more than 500 workplaces, representing 180 industries, save $110 million each year [due to their participation]."
$110 million is nothing to sneeze at. You might note that's spread amongst 500 workplaces and think maybe that's not so much, but doing a little math you see that comes out to $220,000 per workplace, which against isn't sneeze-worthy.
Even eliminating one common cause of injuries would make a major difference. Again, let's look at some facts from OSHA:
"Nearly one-third of all serious occupational injuries and illnesses stem from overexertion or repetitive motion. These are disabling, expensive injuries. They cost our economy as much as $20 billion in direct costs and billions more in indirect costs."
Twenty billion is a lot of money. For example, there are just short of 320 million people in the United States. That means if we could eliminate occupational injuries resulting from overexertion or repetitive motion, we'd save about $62.50 for every person in the United States.
Need some more convincing? OSHA's Safety Pays website provides some great information. Here's how OSHA describes it:
"OSHA's "$afety Pays" program can help employers assess the impact of occupational injuries and illnesses on their profitability. This program uses a company's profit margin, the average costs of an injury or illness, and an indirect cost multiplier to project the amount of sales a company would need to cover those costs. The program is intended as a tool to raise awareness of how occupational injuries and illnesses can impact a company's profitability..."
According to OSHA, an effective safety and health management program has four components:
All four of these pieces have to be in place for the system to work. If just one piece of the system is broken or absent, the entire system will suffer as a result.
Click here to see an example of a robust safety and health program.
Let's go on to look at each of the four sections in more detail.
Both management and the rank-and-file employees must be committed to creating and sustaining a safety and health culture if it's going to work. Neither side can do it on their own, and the system will collapse if one side doesn't join in.
According to OSHA, here are some ways for management to demonstrate its commitment and for workers to be involved:
Let's look at some additional aspects of manager and employee involvement next.
Without leadership from management, the safety and health program is doomed to fail. Management provides a motivating force and, equally importantly, resources for the program.
Management must truly consider the health and safety of workers to be a core value of the company, and this concern for safety and health must be demonstrated in all actions of the company.
Management should ask itself if their safety and health system includes:
Other ways to effectively lead the safety and health program include:
Making Sure Management's Role in Safety and Health Is Apparent to Workers
If workers don't see management's involvement in safety and health, and the importance management places on safety and health, things will go south quickly.
Here are some ways for management to make sure workers see and believe they're involved and care:
Now let's turn our attention to the other half of the equation--employee involvement.
You can't have a safe workplace unless the employees can develop and express their buy-in to safety and health. This includes their own health and also the health of all other workers (plus contractors, temps, visitors, vendors, etc).
Why Should Employees Be Involved in Safety and Health Management?
Some companies may resist including employees in safety and health management, but that's the wrong way to go about it. Here's why:
How Can Employees Be Involved In Health and Safety Management?
Here are some ways that employees can participate in health and safety management:
Here's a previous blog post about how online training can help building a safety culture in the workplace by Convergence Training.
It's important to assign responsibility and authority for different aspects of the health and safety management program to various people.
In addition, though, it's important to make people accountable for the safety and health management program. According to OSHA, being accountable means "your performance is measured in relation to standards or goals that result in certain positive or negative consequences."
When people--both managers and employees--are accountable for aspects of the safety and health program, they are more likely to work hard to find solutions to safety and health problems. And, they're less likely to create obstructions.
Here are some tips for creating accountability in your safety and health management program:
Your company's health and safety management program should be reviewed every year. The purpose, of course, is to make sure it is adequately protecting against workplace hazards. The audit program does this by seeing if polices and procedures were implemented and, if so, if they may their objectives. This information can then be used to modify the program if necessary in the next year.
OSHA provides a lot of helpful information on the yearly safety and health management audits here.
The second necessary component of a safety and health management program is an ongoing process of analyzing the workplace to identify hazards.
The purpose of this is to identify hazards at the workplace so they can later be eliminated or controlled.
The worksite hazard analysis begins with a comprehensive, baseline hazard survey. Then, periodic updates should be performed.
OSHA provides these suggestions for conducting a worksite analysis:
In addition, OSHA recommends these four actions as cornerstones of your worksite analysis:
We'll look at each in more detail below.
This should include (at least):
Small businesses can get OSHA-funded, state-run consultants to visit their site and perform a comprehensive health and safety survey at no cost. Worker's comp carries and insurance companies are other options for this. And of course, there are private consultants in this business as well.
Larger companies most likely have internal staff to handle this.
Before something new happens at the workplace, analyze it to identify any potential hazards. This is true of:
Here's a helpful process overview template from OSHA.
At the simple end of the spectrum, this can involved performing a job hazard analysis (JHA).
Want some free help? Download this free How to Perform a JHA Guide.
For more complicated jobs with more complex risks, consider using the following techniques:
Your company should periodically perform routine health and safety inspections. The point is to identify hazards missed at other stages. These are generally done on a weekly basis. In addition, daily inspections of the work area should also be performed.
Routine site safety and health inspections are designed to catch hazards missed at other stages. This type of inspection should be done at regular intervals, generally on a weekly basis. In addition, procedures should be established that provide a daily inspection of the work area.
It's a good idea to create a checklist designed for this (or get one that's already been created). Base the checklist on:
Keep the following in mind about these inspections:
OSHA suggests the following tools for making sure identified and controlled hazards stay controlled and new hazards don't arise or are controlled when they do:
Let's look at each in more detail.
Employee Hazard Reporting
Your company should not only set up a system for employees to report hazards. You should also make it clear how to use that system to all employees, and encourage employees to use it.
It's a good idea to provide several different ways to report hazards. This will allow employees who may be uncomfortable reporting a hazard one way to do it another. Remember, the ultimate goal is just to get the hazards reported so you can correct them.
Some possible hazard reporting methods to consider include:
Effective hazard reporting systems must include:
Accident and Incident Investigations
In the events that an incident does occur, an accident/incident investigation is necessary. This includes near-misses as well as injuries, illnesses, and property damage.
You can use the information from that investigation to correct hazards so another incident won't happen again.
During the investigation, ask these six key questions:
Remember that incident investigations should remain positive, focus on finding the root cause, and are not intended to assign blame.
Here's our blog about performing an incident investigation.
Analysis of Injury and Illness Trends
Finally, it's important to analyze injury and illness trends over time to identify patterns.
Identifying common/repeat causes of injuries, illnesses, and near-misses allow you to identify hazards, control them, and prevent future incidents.
One place to start is by looking at your OSHA injury and illness forms. You can also check hazard inspection records and employee hazard reports.
The final action recommended under Worksite Analysis is analysis of injury and illness trends over time, so that patterns with common causes can be identified and prevented. Review of the OSHA injury and illness forms is the most common form of pattern analysis, but other records of hazards can be analyzed for patterns. Examples are inspection records and employee hazard reporting records.
Once your safety and health management program is in place, it's important to continually analyze the work area to keep hazards in check and keep workers safe.
Here are some ways to do this:
Identified hazards should be controlled using the hierarchy of controls and with other methods.
The hierarchy of controls includes the following:
Let's look at each. Remember that in many cases you'll wind up using more than one control (such as an engineering control and PPE).
Read more about the Hierarchy of Controls,
Always try an engineering control first. The basic idea of an engineering control is to design the work environment and the job to eliminate hazards or reduce exposure to hazards.
Here are some tips from OSHA regarding engineering controls:
Safe Work Practices
After trying engineering controls, turn to safe work practices.
Safe work practices are general workplace rules and other rules specific to given operations, processes, or tasks.
OSHA’s identified some cases in work safe work practices are necessary. Here’s their list:
Remember that this list is not complete. Consult specific OSHA standards for more information.
Some people consider safe work practices (above) to be a type of administrative control, but OSHA breaks them out separately. OSHA uses the term administrative control to mean “other measures aimed at reducing employee exposure to hazards.”
Administrative controls can include things like:
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, includes things like respirators, hard hats, ear plugs, and similar protective gear.
If a hazard isn’t fully control using engineering controls, safe work practices, and administrative controls, then PPE should be used.
But PPE should ONLY be used as a last resort. Never turn to PPE before considering the other controls.
OSHA’s standard 1910 Subpart I includes specific requirements for PPE–check it out.
Here’s an OSHA document on PPE selection and use.
PPE Hazard Assessment and Training
This process begins with an understanding of the hazards at the workplace for which PPE is required.
From there, the next step is an in-depth evaluation of the PPE itself, including its proper use, the protection it offers, and its limits.
And from there, it moves on to the creation of standard operating procedures employees should follow when using PPE, training employees on the limits of PPE, and training them how to couse and maintain PPE properly.
It’s very important that employees receive proper hazard awareness training before being given and told to use PPE. They must understand that the PPE does not remove the hazard, and that if the PPE fails, the employee will be exposed to the hazard.
You can read more about PPE selection and usage here.
Tracking Hazard Corrections
When hazards are identified, they must be corrected.
The best way to ensure that this happens is to set up a system to ensure identified hazards do indeed get corrected.
Different companies have different ways of doing this. Considering “building this in” to forms for inspection reports, incident investigation reports, and employee hazard reports.
Computerized systems can also be used for this purpose.
Preventive Maintenance Systems
Preventive maintenance of machines and equipment reduces new hazards (from malfunctioning equipment) and helps to ensure that existing controls stay in place and continue to work.
It’s important to schedule regular, periodic maintenance and to document the maintenance. The goal, of course, is to perform maintenance before repairs or replacements are necessary. This time intervals for different equipment may vary as a result.
Good preventive maintenance plays a major role in ensuring that hazard controls continue to function effectively. It also keeps new hazards from arising due to equipment malfunction.
Some OSHA standards require that preventive maintenance be performed. For example, 29 CFR 1910.179 makes just such a requirement for overhead and gantry cranes.
You may be interested in some of the industrial maintenance e-learning courses offered by Convergence Training.
You can read more about the benefits of preventive maintenance here.
A workplace that is safe and free from hazards may not be equally safe during emergencies. Instead, the emergency may cause new hazards to arise.
This may happen as a result of things like:
Always consider all emergencies that could occur and make plans for the best way to ensure health and safety if they should occur. OSHA offers the following items to consider:
Here’s an OSHA document on emergency preparedness.
The medical program at a company will depend on many factors, including:
The medical program may be in-house or made through arrangements through a local medical clinic.
OSHA believes that:
The materials covered in a company’s health and safety training and the methods of training presentation should reflect the unique needs and characteristics of the company’s workforce. AS a result, it’s important to perform a needs analysis early in the process.
OSHA suggests you follow these five principles of effective health and safety training:
Consider a blended learning solution that makes use of training materials of different “types” or “methods,” including:
Click here to read more about blended learning solutions (scroll down to the bottom of that article to get our free downloadable guide to blended learning).
Click here to read more about effective health and safety training from our guide to complying with ANSI Z490.1, the national standard for effective EHS training.
Online health and safety training courses, like those samples in the video highlight below, can be an effective addition to a blended learning safety training program like the one described below.
All employees do.
However, place a special emphasis on:
Managers and supervisors should also be included in the health and safety training plan.
Health and safety training for supervisors should include:
Also make sure to provide appropriate health and safety training to long-term workers whose jobs have changed or who will be working with new processes.
Finally, don’t forget to provide refresher training, especially for responding to emergencies.
Proper health and safety training can help to everyone at your company develop the knowledge and skills they need to understand hazards at the workplace and to follow safe working procedures.
In addition, everyone in the workplace should receive health and safety training on basic topics including:
Other health and safety training to consider includes:
And in addition to that, workers should receive additional health and safety training based on the job tasks they perform. Here’s a list of OSHA standards that make training requirements.
Click here to see a list of health and safety e-learning courses.
Just providing health and safety training isn’t enough.
Instead, you’ve got to evaluate it so you know if it’s effective or not. And you should begin planning for the evaluation even when you’re first designing the training. You can then use the evaluation to fine tune your training if necessary.
Click here to read more about evaluating safety and health training (from a guide to ANSI Z490.1, the national standard for effective health and safety training).
Always keep and store training records to ensure people receive proper safety training.
Read more about documenting and keeping records of health and safety training in our guide to ANSI Z490.1, the national standard for effective EHS training.
Here’s an OSHA example of a safety meeting record.
Click to lean more about how an LMS can help with your safety and health training and your safety and health training records.
Well, that was a bit of information, but hopefully it was helpful.
Here are some additional resources to get you moving forward: