The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued voluntary protection program management guidelines to encourage employers to do more than just comply with regulations to prevent occupational injuries and illnesses. Although compliance with the law, including specific OSHA standards, is an important objective, an effective corporate safety program looks beyond specific requirements of law to address all hazards. It seeks to prevent injuries and illnesses, whether or not compliance is an issue.
This is precisely what some of the best workplace safety consulting firms are doing. Health and safety management system standards/guidelines are important for corporate safety and health consultants to establish. These safety management practices are compiled, applied, and finally advocated by safety and health professionals and consultants representing corporations, professional associations, and labor unions. As a result, these guidelines are used to promote workplace safety through the use of effective and comprehensive safety audits.
The health and safety management guidelines call for systematic identification, evaluation, and prevention or control of general workplace hazards, specific job hazards, and potential hazards which may arise from foreseeable conditions. Additionally, the extent to which a safety management system’s 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 and consistent and fair application of rules. For this reason, it is vital for organizations to seek the guidance of an industrial occupational health and safety firm. By relying on a safety organization’s expertise, a company can effectively prepare for OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). Since safety consulting firms conduct comprehensive audits with an emphasis on solutions-oriented recommendations for program improvement, companies become more aware of specific factors that put their employees health and safety at risk as well as the actions that need to be taken to promote a safer work environment.
Major elements of an effective occupational safety and health program include:
Management Commitment and Employee Involvement. This calls for:
” A worksite policy on safe and healthful work and working conditions clearly stated so that all personnel with responsibility at the site and personnel at other locations with responsibility for the site understand the priority of safety and health protection in relation to other organizational values.
” A clear goal for the safety and health program and objectives for meeting that advocare 20 day challenge goal so that all members of the organization understand the results desired and the measures planned for achieving them.
” Top management involvement in implementing the program so that all will understand that management’s commitment is serious.
Employee involvement in the structure and operation of the program and in decisions that affect their safety and health, to make full use of their insight and energy.
” Assignment of responsibilities for all aspects of the program, so that managers, supervisors, and employees in all parts of the organization know what performance is expected of them.
” Provision of adequate authority and resources to responsible parties, so that assigned responsibilities can be met.
” Holding managers, supervisors, and employees accountable for meeting their responsibilities, so that essential tasks will be performed.
” Annual reviews of program operations to evaluate their success in meeting the goal and objectives, so that deficiencies can be identified and the program and/or the objectives can be revised when the goal and objectives are not met.
Worksite Analysis. This includes:
” Identification of all hazards by conducting baseline worksite surveys for safety and health as well as periodic comprehensive update surveys. Also included would be an analysis of planned and new facilities, processes, materials, and equipment; and another of routine job hazards.
” Regular site safety and health inspections, so that new and/or previously missed failures in hazard controls are identified.
” A reliable system to encourage employees, without fear of reprisal, to notify management personnel about conditions that appear hazardous and to receive timely and appropriate responses. Investigation of accidents and “near miss” incidents, so that their causes and means for prevention are identified.
” Analysis of injury and illness trends over extended periods so that patterns with common causes can be identified and prevented.
Hazard Prevention and Control. This calls for:
” Procedures that ensure that all current and potential hazards are corrected in a timely manner through engineering techniques where appropriate; safe work practices understood and followed by all parties; provision of personal protective equipment; and administrative controls, such as reducing the duration of exposure.
Safety and Health Training. This includes training to:
” Ensure that all employees understand the hazards to which they may be exposed and how to prevent harm to themselves and others.
” Confirm that supervisors and managers understand their responsibilities and the reasons for them so they can carry out their responsibilities effectively.
The most effective workplace safety specialists help companies (internationally, nationally, and locally) continuously improve their safety management systems through comprehensive auditing where a team of highly qualified/certified safety and health professionals review the clients’ organization in terms of OSHA compliance, safety programs, training systems, etc and recommend corrective action and management process improvements as they relate to occupational safety and health.
By: Dan Snyder
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Performance Based Safety, LLC (PBS) is a network of occupational health and safety training professionals dedicated to helping companies improve business performance while protecting the lives and livelihoods of employees and contract workers. For more information, please visit Performance Based Safety, LLC or call Dan Snyder at 417-773-3555.