OSHA offers a change in approach

OSHA has recently “launched” a Campaign for Safety & Health Programs, that it indicates is an approach that has been proven by “best in class” employers to reduce injuries and illnesses and improve their businesses. Brent I Clark and Craig B Simonsen at law firm Seyfarth Shaw assess the change

“In a recent news release out of OSHA’s Region 7, it notes that OSHA’s national “Safe and Sound Campaign” will assist employers in keeping workplaces safe and healthy. OSHA is highlighting both the launch of the “Safe and Sound Campaign” webpage, calling on employers to review their safety and health programs to protect workers, and reduce workplace injuries and deaths, and its “Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs” webpage, that offers “practical advice on how any organization can integrate safety and health programs.”

OSHA claims that the safety and health program approach has been proven by “best in class” employers which have reduced injuries and illnesses and improved their businesses. To OSHA, all effective safety and health programs have three core elements: Management leadership. Top management commits to establishing, maintaining, and continually improving the program, and provides any necessary resources. Worker participation. Effective programs involve workers in identifying solutions. Improved worker engagement is linked to better productivity, higher job satisfaction, and better worker retention.

A systematic find and fix approach.

All effective programs are centered around a proactive process of finding and fixing hazards before they can cause injury or illness. OSHA suggests that initiating a safety and health program doesn’t have to be complicated.

“There are some simple, do-it-yourself steps to get started.” OSHA suggests that employers learn more about how to integrate safety and health programs in their organizations by visiting the OSHA Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs webpage, and beginning program design and implementation there.

OSHA states that employers “will find that implementing these recommended practices also brings other benefits.”

  • Safety and health programs help businesses
  • Prevent workplace injuries and illnesses
  • Improve compliance with laws and regulations
  • Reduce costs, including significant reductions in workers’ compensation premiums
  • Engage workers. Enhance their social responsibility goals
  • Increase productivity and enhance overall business operations.

In addition, Kim Stille, OSHA’s Regional Administrator in Kansas City, states that “with just a phone call, companies can contact OSHA for assistance in achieving safety compliance. Working together with businesses, unions, and employees …. [to] implement and sustain workplace safety and health programs that can help employees avoid preventable injuries and deaths.”

From our view, it is interesting for OSHA to take a more cooperative approach to worker safety and health issues. Whether this news release and these associated webpages signal a change in the overall approach OSHA will take under President Trump’s new Administration is yet to be seen. But this is not the tone we have seen from OSHA in the last several years.”

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