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OSHA: Time to Speak Up about Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines

OSHA: Time to Speak Up about Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines

OSHA is seeking public comment on an updated version of its voluntary Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines.

First published in 1989, OSHA’s voluntary Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines are being updated to reflect modern technology and practices and OSHA is seeking public input as part of the process.

The guidelines are intended to help employers establish health and safety management plans at their workplaces. Key principles include finding and fixing hazards before they cause injury or illness, and making sure that workers have a voice in safety and health.

“The goal of safety and health management is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Employers who embrace these guidelines will experience lower injury and illness rates, and their progress in improving the safety culture at their worksites will contribute to higher productivity, reduced costs and greater worker satisfaction.”

The guidelines are advisory only and do not create any new legal obligations or alter existing obligations created by OSHA standards or regulations.

In a statement, the National Safety Council said the guidelines “will provide much needed direction and support to any business striving to achieve safe operations, but especially small and mid-sized businesses and those with multiemployer worksites. We look forward to engaging with OSHA as they continue to develop these guidelines in our shared effort to drive down the rate of unintentional injury and death in our nation’s workplaces.”

ASSE President Michael Belcher said his organization appreciates OSHA’s commitment to encouraging better employer management of workplace safety and health risks in the draft update of its Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines, and that ASSE "looks forward to sharing the views of its members who are the leaders in addressing workplace risks through safety and health management plans."

Calling the updated guidelines "a step in the right direction,"  Belcher added that ASSE is disappointed that the Obama administration has not pursued an OSHA standard that would require all employers to develop and implement such plans.

"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.  It could also bring the U.S. closer to more effective workplace safety and health regulatory approaches increasingly being used by our international competitors," said Belcher. "We encourage OSHA not to let these guidelines be the agency’s last and best effort in moving the nation towards a more effective approach to protecting workers.” 

For more information and to review the draft guidelines and provide comment, visit OSHA’s Safety and Health Program Management webpage. Comments will be accepted until Feb. 15, 2016. Comments can also be posted directly to using Docket #OSHA-2015-0018.

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