"According to the National Safety Council, workplace injuries and illnesses cost our economy 198.2 billion dollars a year. That's over half a billion dollars each day! Employers who invest in injury and illness prevention programs can expect significant cost savings in addition to reducing fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. Workplace safety is not only the right thing to do for your workers; it's the right thing to do for your business." - Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor.
An effective Safety and Health Program (sometimes referenced as Injury and Illness Prevention Program, also IIPP or I2P2) details how an organization will perform its safety and health compliance responsibilities. OSHA recommends an effective Safety and Health Program consist of seven (7) core elements:
1. Management Leadership: top management visibly commits to investing in and constantly developing safety and health programs, makes safety and health a core company value, and leads by example.
2. Worker Participation: workers are included and empowered while building and implementing safety and health programs, and must fully understand their safety rights and responsibilities.
3. Hazard Identification and Assessment: there should be procedures in place to conduct job hazard analysis (JHA) to identify and evaluate risks before accidents happen.
4. Hazard Prevention and Control: management and employees work together to decide and implement best method for eliminating, controlling, or preventing identified workplace hazards.
5. Education and Training: management and employees should all be properly and effectively trained to understand why and how safety and health programs work, as well as how to implement them effectively.
6. Program Evaluation and Improvement: control measures should be monitored and evaluated for effectiveness to constantly improve safety and health programs.
7. Communication and coordination for host employers, contractors, and staffing agencies: host employers, contractors and staffing agencies must commit to providing the same level of safety and health protection to all employees, and coordinate before work starts to resolve any conflicts that could negatively affect safety and health.
Safety leaders, ask yourselves these four questions:
- Am I readily prepared to defend my safety and health program under any worst case scenario?
- Am I sustaining my competitive business advantage by not having an effective safety and health program?
- Am I jeopardizing my workforce by not having an effective safety and health program?
- Is my safety and health program applicable to my current operations?
And remember, creating this documentation is only a small part of the overall process. Your safety and health program must be continually maintained, evaluated and revised as needed, at minimum on an annual basis. Creating a written safety and health program is one thing. Actually implementing it is another. Don’t become a “policy on paper only” organization, so walk the talk! Please visit OSHA’s new Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs for more information.