An effective occupational safety and health program will include the following five elements. The level of detail and complexity with which a program addresses each element varies from employer to employer. However, all programs should include all five elements.
1. Management commitment and employee involvement
Management commitment provides the motivating force and the resources for organizing and controlling the activities within an organization. In an effective program, management pursues worker safety and health with as much vigor as its other organization goals.
Employee involvement provides the means through which workers develop and express their own commitment to safety and health protection, for themselves and for their fellow workers. A program that is developed and implemented without employee involvement is less likely to have the employee commitment that is essential to its success. An effective safety and health program must meet the needs of both the company and its employees.
2. Worksite inspection/analysis
A variety of worksite examinations are required in this aspect of the program. The purpose of these analyses is to identify not only existing hazards, but also conditions and operations where changes might occur which would create hazards.
Lack of awareness of a hazard that stems from failure to examine the worksite is a sure sign that safety and health policies or practices are ineffective. Effective management actively analyzes the work and worksite to anticipate and prevent harmful occurrences, and encourages employees to point out hazardous situations as they occur.
3. Hazard prevention and control
Once hazards or potential hazards have been identified as part of the worksite analysis, the company must consider prevention and control measures. Where feasible, hazards should be prevented by effective design of the job site or job. Where it is not feasible to eliminate hazards, they must be controlled to prevent unsafe and unhealthful exposures. Elimination or control should be accomplished promptly after a hazard or potential hazard is recognized.
4. Safety and health training
The safety and health responsibilities of all personnel are addressed through training. Safety and health training is most often effective when incorporated into other training about performance requirements and job practices. This prevents safety and health responsibilities from being viewed as separate, less important requirements. The complexity of the training depends on the size and complexity of the worksite, and the nature of the hazards and potential hazards that exist.
5. Long term commitment
The employer must make a long-term commitment to a safety and health program for the program to be effective. Employees must understand that unsafe acts are unacceptable. Management must use a series of progressive actions that reflects the company’s continuing concern. These actions might begin with verbal warnings and culminate in termination of the employee for continuous failure to comply with company safety rules. Management must make it clear that it takes safety seriously and is willing to back up its policies; otherwise, the program is just another piece of paper.
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