[If you’re looking for specific information about OSHA’s recently finalized Safety and Health Program Recommendations, click that link you just passed.]
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!
What Is a Safety and Health Management Program?
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?
Is There a Need for Safety and Health Management Programs?
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.
What Are The Benefits of Having a Safety and Health Management Program at Work?
By creating a safety and health management program at work, you’ll reap many benefits. Let’s look at some now.
Fewer Injuries and Illnesses
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.
Financial Return on Investment (ROI)
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…”
Components of an Effective Safety and Health Management Program
According to OSHA, an effective safety and health management program has four components:
- Management leadership and employee involvement
- Analysis of worksite to identify hazards
- Hazard prevention and control to protect workers from hazards
- Safety and health training
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.
Safety & Health Management Program Component 1: Management Leadership and Employee Involvement
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:
- Management should write a company safety and health policy
- The safety and health policy should be posted in public for all employees to see
- Employees should be involved in creating policy on safety and health issues
- Both sides should play an active role in safety activities
- The company should hold meetings that focus on employee health and safety
- All members of management and rank-and-file workers should follow all safety and health rules
- Time, effort, and money should be invested in the safety and health program–it doesn’t happen on its own
Let’s look at some additional aspects of manager and employee involvement next.
Management Leadership of the Safety and Health Program
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:
- The reasons why the safety and health program was created
- The goal for the safety and health program
- The way to reach the goal
Other ways to effectively lead the safety and health program include:
- Visible involvement of management in safety and health issues
- Assigning responsibility for safety and health issues to specific personnel
- Communicating those assignments clearly
- Providing adequate authority and resources to people in charge of safety and health
- Holding people in charge of safety and health accountable for safety and heatlh
- Creating a method for workers to report hazards
- Explaining to workers how to report hazards and encouraging them to do so
- Encouraging workers to report near-misses, injuries, illnesses, and other incidents
- Never acting to discourage reporting of hazards, near-misses, injuries, illnesses, or other incidents
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:
- Be seen on the floor in informal safety activities and formal safety inspections, etc.
- Make yourself accessible to workers on health and safety issues
- Lead by example, always knowing and following health and safety rules
- Be involved in and actively participate in the safety and health committee, meetings, etc.
Now let’s turn our attention to the other half of the equation–employee involvement.
Employee Involvement in Safety and Health Program
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:
- The rank-and-file workers are the ones who interact most closely with health and safety hazards. As a result, they have the most to win from an effective health and safety training program.
- Including more people leads to better results. More eyes, more brains, more solutions, etc.
- People are more likely to participate in a program they helped to create. On the flip-side, they’re less likely to participate if they feel it’s a “top-down” approach.
- Including workers makes them feel heard and appreciated. This in turn makes them more satisfied and productive workers.
How Can Employees Be Involved In Health and Safety Management?
Here are some ways that employees can participate in health and safety management:
- Participating in worksite safety inspections
- Performing job hazard analyses (JHAs or JSAs)
- Helping to prepare safe work practices
- Helping to eliminate workplace hazards or control workplace hazards
- Helping to develop and update safety and health rules
- Helping to train new and current employees on health and safety issues
- Being encouraged to report hazards
- Being allowed to fix hazards that are within their means to fix
- Being encouraged to provide feedback to coworkers who are working unsafely or are unaware of hazards (gently, of course)
- Being included in change-analysis teams when new equipment or processes are introduced
Here’s a previous blog post about how online training can help building a safety culture in the workplace by Convergence Training.
Safety and Health Management Programs: Responsibility, Authority, and Accountability
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:
- Create company policies, procedures, and rules that make performance standards related to safety and health clear
- Provide all resources needed to meet those standards–a safe and healthy workplace, effective health and safety training, appropriate oversite of work operations.
- Create and communicate to workers a system by which performance can be measured and judged acceptable or not acceptable
- Create positive and negative consequences for accountability and make these known in advance
- Apply these rules and standards at all levels of the organization
Click to read more about responsibility, authority, and accountability for health and safety management.
Safety and Health Program Yearly Audits and Reviews
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.
Safety & Health Management Program Component 2: Analysis of Worksite to Identify Hazards
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.
Conducting the Worksite Analysis
OSHA provides these suggestions for conducting a worksite analysis:
- Become aware of the hazards that exist in your industry
- Create safety teams at work
- Create a system for employees to report hazards
- Encourage employees to report hazards using that system
- Have properly trained personnel conduct inspections of the worksite and correct hazards
- Ensure that any process changes or new systems are reviewed for hazards
- Get assistance from safety and health experts (insurance companies, consultants, etc.)
- Request a free OSHA consultant visit to get help from the experts
In addition, OSHA recommends these four actions as cornerstones of your worksite analysis:
- Comprehensive surveys
- Change analysis/analyses
- Hazard analysis/analyses
- Safety and health inspections
We’ll look at each in more detail below.
This should include (at least):
- A survey of noise levels
- Review of the respirator program
- Review of ergonomic risk factors
- Inventory of chemicals and hazardous materials
- Review of HazCom program
- Analysis of air samples for industrial hygiene purposes
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:
- New equipment
- New/different materials
- New processes
- New buildings
- New staffing
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:
- What-if checklist
- Hazard and operability study
- Failure mode and effect analysis
- Fault tree analysis
Safety and Health Inspections
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:
- Past problems/hazards
- Standards that apply to your industry
- Input regarding safety and health from all employees
- Your company’s safety policies, procedures, rules, and practices
Keep the following in mind about these inspections:
- They should cover ever part of the worksite
- They must be done at regular intervals (weekly and daily, for example)
- They must be done by people trained to recognize and control hazards
- Hazards that are identified must be tracked through to correction/control of the hazard
- Information from these inspections should be used to improve the hazard prevention and control program
Dealing with Hazards That Escape Safety and Health Program Controls
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:
- Employee hazard reporting
- Accident and incident investigations
- Analysis of injury and illness trends
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:
- Supervisor chain of command
- Safety and health committee member
- Voice mail
- Suggestion box
Effective hazard reporting systems must include:
- A policy that actively encourages employees to report hazards
- Appropriate and timely responses to the employee making the report (unless the report is anonymous, in which case responses could be made publicly)
- Time and appropriate correct action when necessary
- A system to track hazard reports and hazard corrections
- Use of that hazard reporting/correcting system
- Absolute protection of employees reporting hazards from any negative consequences
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.
Safety & Health Management Program Component 3: Hazard Prevention and Control to Protect Workers
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:
- Inspect and maintain equipment thoroughly and on a regular basis
- Make sure all hazard identification and correction procedures are in place
- Make sure everyone knows how to use PPE, how to main it, and is in fact using it appropriately
- Make sure everyone knows and follows established safe work procedures
- Make sure that, when needed, your worksite has a medical program appropriate for your facility
- Continually review the work environment and work practices to control or prevent workplace hazards
Hazard Prevention and Control: The Hierarchy of Controls and More
Identified hazards should be controlled using the hierarchy of controls and with other methods.
The hierarchy of controls includes the following:
- Engineering controls
- Safe work practices
- Administrative controls
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).
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:
- If possible, design the facility, equipment, or process to eliminate the hazard
- Next, if possible, try to substitute something that is less hazardous
- If removal or substitution is not possible, try enclosing the hazard
- If enclosure is not possible, try guards, barriers, and/or ventilation
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:
- Respiratory Protection [29 CFR 1910.134].
- Lockout/Tagout [29 CFR 1910.147].
- Confined Space Entry [29 CFR 1910.146].
- Hazard Communication [29 CFR 1910.1200, 29 CFR 1926.59].
- Blood borne Pathogens [29 CFR 1910.1030].
- Hearing Conservation [29 CFR 1910.95].
- Laboratory Chemical Hygiene [29 CFR 1910.1450].
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:
- Additional relief workers
- Shorter job shifts in area where hazard is present
- Rotation of workers
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.
Before we leave the topic of he hierarchy of controls and move on to the next section, here’s an e-learning course about the hierarchy of controls created by the Convergence Training blog team.
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.
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:
- Train and/or plane accidents
- Workplace violence
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:
- Create a list of all possible emergencies
- Place actions to reduce the impact of each emergency
- Inform employees of the plans and provide proper emergency training
- Hold emergency drills
Here’s an OSHA document on emergency preparedness.
The medical program at a company will depend on many factors, including:
- The size of company
- Processes and materials
- Hazards present
- Type of facilities
- Number of workers at the facility
- Characteristics of the workforce
- Location of facility in terms of proximity to health care facilities
The medical program may be in-house or made through arrangements through a local medical clinic.
Safety & Health Management Program Component 4: Safety and Health Training
OSHA believes that:
- Safety and health training is vital to every work place
- Safety and health training is most effective when it’s integrated into a company’s overall training in performance requirements and job practices
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.
Five Principles of Effective Safety and Health Training
OSHA suggests you follow these five principles of effective health and safety training:
- Employees should understand the purpose of the training
- Organize information so the training is most effective
- Allow employees to immediately practice and apply new skills and knowledge
- As employees practice, provide helpful feedback
- Provide training in a variety of methods
Blended Learning for Safety Training
Consider a blended learning solution that makes use of training materials of different “types” or “methods,” including:
- On-the-job instruction/shadowing/following/mentoring
- Task-based instruction
- Written training materials
- e-Learning courses
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.
Who Needs Safety & Health Training?
All employees do.
However, place a special emphasis on:
- New hires
- Contractor workers
- Workers in high-risk areas
- Workers who have to wear PPE
Managers and supervisors should also be included in the health and safety training plan.
- Health and safety training for managers should emphasize:
- The importance of their role in providing visible support for the safety and health program
- Setting a good safety and health example for all workers
- Health and safety training necessary to keep them safe at work
Health and safety training for supervisors should include:
- Training on company policies and procedures (for safety and health)
- Hazard detection and control
- Accident investigation
- Handling emergencies
- How to train and reinforce training
- Training necessary to keep them safe and healthy at work
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.
Basic Safety and Health Training for Everyone
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:
- What to do in the event of a fire or other emergency
- When and where PPE is required
- The types of chemicals at the workplace
- The hazards associated with those chemicals
- The precautions for working with those chemicals safely
Other health and safety training to consider includes:
- Orientation training for site workers and contracts
- JSAs, SOPs, and other hazard recognition training
- Training required by OSHA standards, including the Process Safety Management standard
- Training for emergency response people
- Accident investigation training
- Emergency drills
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.
Evaluate Safety and Health Training
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).
Safety and Health Training Records
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.
Conclusion: Safety and Health Management Programs
Well, that was a bit of information, but hopefully it was helpful.
Here are some additional resources to get you moving forward:
- Printable checklist to review your safety and health management program.
- Online tool to evaluate your health and safety training management program.
Effective EHS Training: A Step-by-Step Guide
Learn how to design, create, deliver, and evaluate effective EHS training by following these best practices with our free step-by-step guide.