OSH is like any other company function. Thus, it needs to be managed. Managed means that it needs a direction, a purpose, resources, and commitment.
Why manage OSH? The primary reason for managing OSH is forged in the responsibility of employers to provide to their employees a workplace free from known or anticipated safety and health hazards.
What does that entail? The assumption that the ultimate responsibility for providing for the safety and health of the workforce rests in management. Commitment, budgeting, and planning are all management responsibilities.
Managing OSH relies on all levels of management, including the elicitation of help from the workforce. If the president or chief executive officer (CEO) has not committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace, then all is lost, and a true effort to manage OSH is doomed to failure. This is why top management must demonstrate a managerial commitment to OSH. The type of commitment needed is more than just a verbal announcement. It should be in writing (signed) and supported by actions such as obeying OSH rules, providing a budget for OSH, and designating an individual (e.g., safety director) to coordinate and manage the company's safety and health initiative.
The failure to effectively manage safety and health manifests itself in the form of unsafe or unhealthy work situations or conditions and unsafe and unhealthy work performance by the workforce. This is another reason why management of OSH is a necessary part of doing business. The failure to manage the safety and health function of a company most often has had a deleterious effect upon the bottom line. In simple terms, failure to manage safety and health costs dollars.
From experience, it is recognized that accidents and incidents related to OSH are the result of management's inability to manage safety and health as they would manage any other company function.
There is the question as to why both supervisor and workers need to be involved in a management approach to OSH. This type of involvement will benefit management's safety and health initiative because it fosters ownership by stimulating investment, responsibility, and accountability, all of which results in integrating both supervisors and workers into an effective safety and health management approach.
The involvement of managers and supervisors as a function of management assures the communication of safety and health policies and procedures. This should result in structuring an environment for holding these individuals accountable and providing them the authority to implement and enforce the intent of upper management.
The first-line supervisor is critical to the management of the employer's safety and health effort. The reasoning for such a statement is vested in the function of the first-line supervisor, who is on the front line.