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Effective safety and health management significantly lowers injury and illness rates

Learn how OSHA guidelines can help improvement safety and decrease accident and injury in your workplace.

In an effort to reduce workplace injury and illness, OSHA issued a set of guidelines designed to aid facilities in developing, implementing and maintaining effective safety and health programs. OSHA believes that “systematic management policies, procedures and practices are fundamental to the reduction of work-related injuries and illnesses and their attendant economic costs”. OSHA offered the guidelines to urge employers to create programs that address their specific workplace conditions and operations.

OSHA decided to issue the Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines as a voluntary program, rather than issuing the guidelines as mandatory standards. Therefore, there is no general OSHA requirement for using safety and health programs, although they may be required in some states, and some OSHA Standards may require safety and health management programs. Whether or not safety and health management is required, it is a good idea. OSHA representatives have noticed that facilities with effective safety and health management have significantly lower rates of injury and illness than the rates at comparable worksites where there is weak or non-existent safety and health management.

Through many years of enforcement experience OSHA was able to see a strong connection between effective safety and health management and improved conditions affecting safety and health such as better control of exposure to toxic substances and lower incidences and severity of injuries in employees. This awareness lead OSHA to increase their emphasis on management practices. Some Standards began to specifically require management programs, such as the Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200). Through Instruction Standard 3-1.1, OSHA emphasized the importance of safety and health management programs in the construction industry. Additionally, OSHA created voluntary programs encouraging the improvement of workplace safety and health as well as consultation services and educational materials.

Recordkeeping at worksites participating in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) indicated that effective safety and health management improves employee morale, lowers lost work-days, improves productivity, reduces workers compensation costs, and reduces indirect costs associated with occupational injury and illness. Through evaluation of worksites involved in their enforcement, consultation, and cooperative programs such as VPP, OSHA concluded that effectively managing the safety and health protection of workers is “a decisive factor” in the reduction of both the extent and the severity of injuries and illnesses in the workplace.

Tags: OSHA injury, OSHA accident, workplace safety, OSHA compliance, OSHA labeling