Whether you just started a business or you’re ready to take safety on the job site more seriously, OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs provides a step-by-step approach to getting a safety and health program started. The goal of your program should be to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths, as well as alleviate the suffering and financial hardships of workers and their families when these unfortunate incidents occur.
Any successful safety and health program should be built around these seven core elements, as outlined by OSHA:
- Management leadership: Business owners, managers, and supervisors must be committed to health and safety on the job site. Their top priorities must be to eliminate hazards and protect workers, as well as provide education regarding onsite hazards and information about filing for worker’s compensation and other benefits if injuries occur on the job.
- Worker participation: Employees should have a way to report hazards or health concerns without fear of retaliation, and reporting injuries or illnesses should be a simple process. Workers should also have the opportunity to voice their opinions before any significant workplace changes are implemented.
- Hazard identification and assessment: This critical element of safety on the job site involves finding hazards before they cause an incident. Plan to conduct periodic workplace inspections, investigate close calls, consider emergencies that could arise, and identify trends in injuries and illnesses that occur.
- Hazard prevention and control: To effectively prevent and control hazardous workplace conditions, seek worker insight, implement a hazard control plan, and routinely evaluate the effectiveness of your program. Review new technologies and techniques for providing more reliable, cost-effective protection for your workers.
- Education and training: Understanding workplace risks and how to stay safe is critical. Employers, managers, supervisors, and workers should receive the necessary education. This may take the form of peer-to-peer or on-the-job training, which should cover the skills needed to perform a job safely, how to identify and report hazards, and any special training where unique risks are present.
- Program evaluation and improvement: When a safety and health program is implemented for the first time, it should be closely evaluated to ensure it’s working as intended. Then, employers should reevaluate the program at least once a year to stay on track with their goals.
- Communication and coordination for host employers, contractors, and staffing agencies: It’s common for host worksites to facilitate multiple contractors or subcontractors simultaneously. In these cases, it’s vital for the host employer and each contractor to communicate and coordinate to ensure a safe job site for all workers, whether temporary or long-term.
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