Updated OSHA Safety Program Guidelines Drives Worker Safety

22 January 2019

What is your company’s most valuable asset? If you said your workforce, you’re right. Without good workers, businesses tend to struggle badly. The last thing you want is to lose any worker to injury, illness (even for a short time), or even death. Losing workers this way will always have a major impact no matter how big or small your company.

Management guru Peter Drucker agrees with this assessment:The most valuable assets of a 20th-century company were its production equipment,” says Drucker. “The most valuable asset of a 21st-century institution, whether business or non-business, will be its knowledge workers and their productivity.”  

Creating an OSHA safety program is an effective way of protecting workers and boosting productivity. The key to creating an effective and healthy program is using OSHA’s program management guidelines. Following these guidelines provides numerous business benefits:

More specifically, OSHA safety program:

  •       Identify and resolve health and safety issues
  •       Build trust between management and workers
  •       Generate products and services of superior quality
  •       Boost worker productivity and efficiency
  •       Increase corporate profitability over the long-term

Despite these benefits, many companies still choose more traditional methods of forming safety programs, which they tend to publish in safety manuals and just ignore. This approach doesn’t cut it anymore. It fails to address workplace issues until it’s too late. This means that the accident has already occurred and the company, as well as any workers involved, now have to pay for it.

OSHA safety program take a much more aggressive, progressive approach. This means, creating programs based on the agency’s program management drives and measurable health and safety results. When it comes to keeping workers safe and boosting productivity, this is what needs to be done.

Implementing OSHA Safety Program Management Guidelines

OSHA introduced its program management guidelines in 1989. Over the years, these guidelines have provided businesses with a solid foundation and reliable plan, for creating an effective OSHA safety program. Many companies have used them to do just this, but a lot has changed in the workplace since these guidelines were first written.

For example, the increased hiring of temporary and contract workers has recently formed a higher risk for businesses than ever before.  Meanwhile, integrating technology into the workplace has resulted in some new and different health hazards.

This is why OSHA has recently updated its guidelines, bringing them into the 21st century. OSHA’s updated guidelines:

  1.      Reflect what the agency has learned from best-in-class programs
  2.      Place greater emphasis on involving and informing workers about it
  3.      Provide a more dependable evaluation element
  4.      Implement continuous program improvement
  5.      Emphasize the need for better coordination/communication
  6.      Build on successful methods and practices
  7.      Meet all national/international consensus standards.

OSHA’s updated guidelines target a diverse workplace. They can guide companies in both the manufacturing and service sectors. Plus, they include information designed specifically for dealing with temporary and contract workers, as well as multi-employer situations.

Emphasize Proactivity and Continuing Improvement

OSHA’s guidelines emphasize two things. One is a proactive approach to health and safety. It focuses on recovering and dealing with any hazards which could occur before they actually do. Put another way, proactivity forms a safer and more positive working environment, saving companies time and money, while boosting productivity and profitability. These are all good things.

OSHA’s guidelines also emphasize the importance of continuous improvement. This approach starts by building a basic program that sets modest goals, monitors performance, and evaluates outcomes. Over time, you continue to improve and update programs, producing a more impressive level of worker health and safety.

Using OSHA’s program management guidelines helps you to create a safety program that does everything you need it to, and more. This includes:

  1.      Improving product, service, and business process quality
  2.     Increasing employee morale at all company work-sites
  3.      Improving employee retention and recruitment
  4.      Developing an impressive reputation
  5.      Dramatically reducing compensation costs

One example is a  small Ohio company who cut their average cost per claim by 80% using these guidelines. They also cut the average time lost per claim by 87% and claims per million dollars of payroll, by 88%. They can also help you cut the indirect compensation costs of workplace incidents, estimated to be 2.7 times the direct costs.

Core Elements of OSHA’s Health and Safety Guidelines

OSHA’s guidelines cover seven core elements. These core elements are:

  1.      Management and Leadership
  2.      Worker Participation
  3.      Hazard Identification & Assessment
  4.      Hazard Prevention & Control
  5.      Education and Training
  6.      Program Evaluation & Improvement
  7.      Communication & Coordination  

Each of these elements suggests the best practices to use that are proven to work. These practices are specific, not prescriptive, so they work well across all economic sectors, dealing with any hazards, in either a fixed or mobile environment.

OSHA’s best practices are both interrelated and integrated. Actions taken that are based on one core element impact on actions taken under another core element or elements. However, you’ll need to tailor them to meet your company’s own needs and current situation.

Also, you’ll need to progress in each one of these core elements in order to maximize the total impact of the guidelines. The key to doing this rests primarily in the hands of the company, based on how dedicated they are to executing the best practices.

Worker Participation is a Critical Element

Worker participation is critical to meet OSHA safety programs. Workers must take part in the creation and implementation of all program elements. Much of the advice given and actions suggested in these guidelines, relies on the perspective, skills, and insights that best come from workers and their representatives.

The last core element recommends any actions that the host employer can take when dealing with contractors, subcontractors, and temporary workers to ensure that everyone at the worksite is well protected.

Combining these best practices using GoContractor’s platform, simplifies and streamlines this process dramatically. It also helps create a safer, more productive workplace for everyone included, an enormous benefit to any companies involved.

OSHA Website, Tools, and Resources

OSHA provides a website and numerous tools and resources to help you tailor its management guidelines, as well as the best methods of meeting your company requirements. You can also combine the safety program with other OSHA compliance programs, such as its Compliance Assistance Quick Start tool, delivering solid and measurable results.

Workers are your most valuable assets. Without good workers, businesses wouldn’t survive for long. Protecting your workers from illness, injury or even death has to be made your top priority, if you really want to survive and thrive in today’s ever-changing business arenas.

Creating an OSHA safety program based on the agency’s program management guidelines can help you do this in more a cost-effective way. Adopting the guidelines not only protects your most valuable asset but also lowers compensation costs, increasing worker uptime.

Given today’s modernized workplaces and the changes that have taken place over the years, creating an OSHA safety program could be the right method of boosting productivity and profitability. This is something that every company strives for no matter what its size or the industry involved.

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Jenny Snook
Jenny Snook

Jenny Snook is content executive at GoContractor with the job of researching the latest health and safety trends in the heavy industry. Her past-experience includes the research of large museum collections such as the Louth County Museum, many from the industrial age.

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