The Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the United States has updated its voluntary Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines. First published in 1989, the guidelines are being updated to reflect modern technology and include illustrations, tools and resources.
The updated guidelines should be particularly helpful to small- and medium-sized businesses, said OSHA. They also address ways in which multiple employers at the same work site can co-ordinate efforts to make sure all workers are protected.
"The goal of safety and health management is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths," said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labour for Occupational Safety and Health. "Employers who embrace these guidelines will experience lower injury and illness rates, and their progress in improving the safety culture at their work sites will contribute to higher productivity, reduced costs and greater worker satisfaction."
Key principles of the guidelines include finding and fixing hazards before they cause injury or illness, worker education and training, the role of management and leadership, and making sure that workers have a voice in safety and health.
The president of the American Society of Safety Engineers, Michael Belcher, acknowledge that the updated guidelines are a step in the right direction, but said he was disappointed that the government has not pursued a mandatory standard.
“A well-written OSHA standard could help every U.S. employer move towards the safety and health management approaches that the best employers already use to protect workers and their profit margins,” he said. “It could also bring the U.S. closer to more effective workplace safety and health regulatory approaches increasingly being used by our international competitors.”
The draft of the guidelines is currently undergoing public consultation until Feb. 15.
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