As we discussed in Part 1 of this topic, the main goal of safety and health programs is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Safety in the workplace will also the suffering and financial hardships that these events can cause for workers, their families, and employers. To assist companies with developing a safety and health program, OSHA has outlined recommended practices which are built around six core elements of a successful program.

In this article, we will discuss the last 3 elements of a successful safety and health program: Hazard Prevention and Control, Education and Training, and Program Evaluation and Improvement.

Hazard Prevention and Control

Once you have identified potential hazards, you need an effective hazard control plan. This plan will help your workers to avoid injuries, illnesses, and incidents; minimize or eliminate safety and health risks; and help employers to provide workers with safe and healthful working conditions. To effectively control and prevent hazards, you should involve your workers. They 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. Develop and use this hazard control plan to guide the selection and implementation of controls, and implement controls according to the plan. Be sure to keep in mind measure that will protect workers from hazards during emergencies and non-routine activities when developing your hazard control plan. Controls should be evaluated regularly for effectiveness to determine whether they continue to provide protection, or whether different controls may be more effective. New technologies should be reviewed periodically as well to determine if they could provide more thorough, more reliable protection or be less costly than your current measures.

Education and Training

Education and training provide two important benefits to your workers and managers. First, informing workers and managers about workplace hazards and controls allows them to work safely and be more productive. Second, providing them with a greater understanding of the safety and health program itself allows your workers to contribute to its development and implementation, which is critical for success.

Education and training provides employers, managers, and workers with the knowledge and skills needed to do their work safely and avoid creating hazards that could place themselves or others at risk. An increased awareness and understanding of workplace hazards, how to report the hazards and control them is a key element to a successful safety and health plan. When work involves unique hazards, specialized training may be necessary. You may also want to provide specialized training for those in leadership positions with the safety and health program, so they fully understand their roles and how to perform them. Consider training outside of a formal, classroom setting. Peer-to-peer training, on-the-job training, and worksite demonstrations can be effective in conveying safety concepts, ensuring hazards and controls are understood, and promoting good work practices.

Program Evaluation and Improvement

Once you have started your health and safety plan, evaluations should begin to verify that it is being implemented as intended. After this, you should perform a thorough evaluation annually to assess what is and is not working effectively, and whether the program is on track to achieve its goals. When your evaluations identify opportunities for improvement, work with your managers and workers to make adjustments to the plan and monitor the new results. Sharing the responsibility for plan management and changes, as well as evaluation and monitoring results, will increase participation and drive further improvement.

Your plan evaluations should include establishing, reporting, and tracking goals and targets to indicate whether the program is making progress. Ongoing evaluations and updates allow workers to participate in the program evaluation and improvement to further buy-in and improve results.

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