Implementing a safety management plan is arguably the most effective way for small- and medium-sized businesses to address workplace hazards, prevent injuries and illness, and meet compliance. Also known as safety and health programs, these plans are a proactive and collaborative approach to maintaining workplace safety.
Safety management programs incorporate seven core elements as identified in OSHA's Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs:
- Management Leadership: Top management must be committed to the development of the safety management program, setting program expectations and goals while providing the adequate resources for managers at all levels to get involved.
- Worker Participation: Employees will need to be involved in every step of the program and should feel comfortable in bringing up concerns or making suggestions for improvement.
- Hazard Identification & Assessment: As part of the preventative approach, workplaces need a set of procedures to properly identify hazards, evaluate risk, and get to the root cause.
- Hazard Prevention & Control: There must be a clear and methodical plan for eliminating, preventing, and controlling workplace hazards. Managers and workers should work together to identify and select controls, working through the Hierarchy of Hazard Controls.
- Education & Training: Everyone in the organization needs to be trained on safety procedures, employers understand their responsibilities for creating a safety work environment, and all workers should be trained to recognize hazards and identify possible control solutions.
- Program Evaluation & Improvement: The safety and health program must be continuously improved upon through periodic evaluation, feedback from workers, and program modification.
- Communication & Coordination: If applicable, the same commitment should be provided across all worksites or departments.
The framework provided by OSHA can help any size of business is any kind of industry introduce and develop their own safety management plan. It’s important to remember these recommended practices are just that, recommended. The best safety and health programs are ones tailored to fit the needs of the organization and is continuously improved.