Summary: Why Management?

A short summary as to why management is needed to accomplish the desired outcome for the OSH initiative is as follows:

1. Management is ultimately responsible for OSH.

Thus, the need for commitment, budgeting, and planning for safety falls upon management's shoulders.

2. Poor safety conditions and safety performance by the workforce result from management's failure to effectively manage workplace safety and health.

Accidents and incidents result from management's inability to manage safety and health as they would any other company function.

3. Worker and supervisor involvement are critical to good workplace safety and health.

A workforce that is not involved in safety and health has no ownership and thus feels no investment, responsibility, or accountability for it.

4. Workplace safety and health is not a dynamic, fast-evolving component of the workplace, since it should go hand in hand with your normally evolving business.

In safety and health, there is little that is new, since we know the causes of occupational injuries and illnesses as well as how to intervene to mitigate and prevent their occurrence. There should be no excuses for accidents and incidents, since the philosophy should be that all are preventable.

5. You cannot have an effective safety and health program without specifically holding the first-line supervisors accountable for their own and their employees' safety and health performance (as well as other management personnel).

First-line supervisors are the key to the success or failure of a safety and health program. All your planning, budgeting, and goal setting are for naught if they are not accountable and committed to safety and health.

6. Hazard identification and analysis are critical functions in assuring a safe and healthy work environment.

If management and the workforce do not tolerate the existence of hazards and constantly ask the question, "How could this have happened?", they are better able to get to the basic causes of adverse workplace events.

7. Management's philosophy, actions, policies, and procedures regarding safety and health in the workplace put workers into situations where they must disregard good safety and health practices in order to perform their assigned task or work.

Workers in most cases perform work in an unsafe or unhealthy manner when they have no choice or are forced to do so by existing conditions and expectations.

8. It is critical to obtain safe and healthy performance or behavior by effective communications and motivational procedures that are compatible with the culture of your workforce.

If you do not understand what it is that fulfills the needs of your workforce, you will not be able to communicate or motivate them regarding safety and health outcomes no matter how good your management approach.

Further Readings

Reese, C.D. Accident/Incident Prevention Techniques (Second Edition). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2012. Reese, C.D. Occupational Health and Safety Management (Third Edition). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2016.

Reese, C.D. and J.V. Eidson. Handbook of OSHA Construction Safety & Health (Second Edition). Boca Raton, FL: CRC/Lewis Publishers, 2006.

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