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OSHA Updates Recommended Practices for Workplace Safety and Health Programs

Release Date: October 24, 2016

After nearly 30 years, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a set of Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs to help employers establish a methodical approach to improving safety and health in their workplaces. The recommendations update OSHA’s 1989 guidelines to reflect changes in the economy, workplaces, and evolving safety and health issues. The recommendations are advisory only and do not create any new legal obligations or alter existing obligations created by OSHA standards or regulations.

The programs are not prescriptive, but are built around a core set of business processes that can be implemented to suit a particular workplace in any industry. OSHA has seen the programs successfully implemented in manufacturing, construction, health care, technology, retail, services, higher education, and government. Key principles include leadership from the top to send a message that safety and health is critical to the business operations; worker participation in finding solutions; and a systematic approach to find and fix hazards.

A new, easier-to-use format that should be particularly helpful to small- and medium-sized businesses has been adopted, as well as a new section on multi-employer workplaces and a greater emphasis on continuous improvement.

Seven core elements for a safety and health program are addressed:

“Since OSHA’s original guidelines were published more than 25 years ago, employers and employees have gained a lot of experience in how to use safety and health programs to systematically prevent injuries and illnesses in the workplace,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “We know that working together to implement these programs will help prevent injuries and illnesses, and also make businesses more sustainable.”

OSHA’s “Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs” website can be accessed at https://www.osha.gov/shpguidelines/. The site includes case studies, audit tools, and other useful resources.

COPYRIGHT ©2016, ISO Services, Inc.

The information contained in this publication was obtained from sources believed to be reliable. ISO Services, Inc., its companies and employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with either the information herein contained or the safety suggestions herein made. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that every acceptable safety procedure is contained herein or that abnormal or unusual circumstances may not warrant or require further or additional procedure.


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