Revamping Your Occupational Health and Safety Program: Simple but not Easy: Part 2

Are you starting or revamping an occupational safety and health program? Well, here is some good advice: The steps are simple, but the process is not easy.

In November of 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, issued an updated Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs. The last time OSHA issued recommendations for establishing a safety and health program was 1989.

The new recommendations give employers an excellent blueprint on starting and maintaining an occupational safety and health program.

“The Recommended Practices are designed to be used in a wide variety of small and medium-sized business settings. The Recommended Practices present a step-by-step approach to implementing a safety and health program, built around seven core elements that make up a successful program.”


Here are the seven core steps:

  1. Management Leadership
  2. Worker Participation
  3. Hazard Identification and Assessment
  4. Hazard Prevention and Control
  5. Education and Training
  6. Program Evaluation and Improvement
  7. Communication and Coordination for Host Employers, Contractors, and Staffing Agencies

Part 2 Starts Here.

4.         Hazard Prevention and Control

This is the job for the competent person.

A well trained and educated Competent Person! This is a person authorized by the company(employer) to take prompt corrective actions to address the hazards that the company found in step 3 (Hazard Identification and Assessment).

Effective controls protect workers from workplace hazards; help avoid injuries, illnesses, and incidents; minimize or eliminate safety and health risks; and help employers provide workers with safe and healthy working conditions. The processes described in this section will help employers prevent and control hazards identified in section 3.

To effectively control and prevent hazards, employers should:

  • Involve workers, who often have the best understanding of the conditions that create hazards and insights into how they can be controlled.
  • Identify and evaluate options for controlling hazards, using a “hierarchy of controls.” (See image below.)
  • Use a hazard control plan to guide the selection and implementation of controls and implement controls according to the plan.

Great app for paperless control plans: SiteDocs Safety Management Software

  • Develop plans with measures to protect workers during emergencies and non-routine activities.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of existing controls to determine whether they continue to provide protection, or whether different controls may be more effective. Review recent technologies for their potential to be more protective, more dependable, or less costly.

Actions items to accomplish the fourth step.

Action item 1: Identify control options

Action item 2: Select controls

Action item 3: Develop and update a hazard control plan

Action item 4: Select controls to protect workers during nonroutine operations and emergencies

Action item 5: Implement selected controls in the workplace

Action item 6: Follow up to confirm that controls are effective

This implementation of controls along with the follow-up plan is so important. As with the rest of the steps, the organization must treat this plan as an ongoing commitment to improvement.

Here are four resources the organization should consider accomplishing this step:

CPWR | Hazard Alert Cards

CPWR | Toolbox Talks

CPWR Exposure Control Database (

Solution | Job Hazard Analysis | Construction Solutions (

5.         Education and Training

Believe this: Education and training without management follow-up is useless!

Try answering this question: What is the difference between education and training?

Simply put, training is the policy and procedure while education is the why we do the policy and procedure. Education is the element that is very often missed.

Education and training are important tools for informing workers and managers about workplace hazards and controls so they can work more safely and be more productive.

Another role of education and training, however, is to provide workers and managers with a greater understanding of the safety and health program itself, so that they can contribute to its development and implementation.

Education and training provide employers, managers, supervisors, and workers with:

  • Knowledge and skills needed to do their work safely and avoid creating hazards that could place themselves or others at risk.
  • Awareness and understanding of workplace hazards and how to identify, report, and control them.
  • Specialized training when their work involves unique hazards.

Additional training may be needed depending on the roles assigned to employers or individual managers, supervisors, and workers.

For example, employers, managers, and supervisors may need specific training to ensure that they can fulfill their roles in providing leadership, direction, and resources for the safety and health program. Workers assigned specific roles in the program (e.g., incident investigation team members) may need training to ensure their full participation in those functions.

Effective training and education can be provided outside a formal classroom setting.

Peer-to-peer training, on-the-job training, and worksite demonstrations can be effective in conveying safety concepts, ensuring understanding of hazards and their controls, and promoting excellent work practices.

Action item 1: Provide program awareness training.

Action Item 2: Train employers, managers, and supervisors on their roles in the program.

Hint: Most organizations do not have an effective education and training program for front line supervisors.

Action item 3: Train workers on their specific roles in the safety and health program.

Action item 4: Train workers on hazard identification and controls.

Action item 1: Provide program awareness training.

Managers, supervisors, and workers all need to understand the program’s structure, plans, and procedures.

Having this knowledge ensures that everyone can fully participate in developing, implementing, and improving the program.

More resources:

Safety & Prevention | NIOSH | CDC

Stay tuned for Part 3.

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