Section D Personnel Involved in Occupational Safety and Health

The final outcomes and successes of occupational safety and health (OSH) are directly related to those individuals involved and how they fill their roles as members of the teams that oversee, conduct, implement, carry out, and fulfill the intent of OSH within a given workplace.

The contents of this section are as follows:

Chapter 17—Management's Commitment and Involvement

Chapter 18—Line Supervisors

Chapter 19—Workers

Chapter 20—Safety Director or Manager

Chapter 21—Safety and Health Professional

Chapter 22—Industrial Hygienist

Chapter 23—Safety and Health Consultant

Management's Commitment and Involvement

In order for occupational safety and health (OSH) to function effectively, there must be a complete dedication and support for it. This is why the term commitment is really directed at management since it is solely management's responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace for its employees. When occupational injuries and illnesses occur, they are considered to be failings within the management system. Management sets the tone for safety and health within the workplace. It does so by demonstrating a commitment. The first item to look for is a safety and health policy that expresses the position of the company in relation to safety and health. This policy must be signed by the president, chief executive officer (CEO), or similar official, not the safety director. This is why the safety and health program must start at the top and work its way down to every level of the company.

A safety and health policy statement clarifies the policy, standardizes safety within the company, provides support for safety, and supports the enforcement of safety and health within the company. It should set forth the purpose and philosophy of the company, delineate the program's goal, assign responsibilities for all company personnel, and be positive in nature. It should be as brief as humanly possible.

It is expected that the top management will sign off on the company's safety and health program. This does not mean that they will develop it, but that they support it. This is another example of commitment.

This is why top management determines to whom safety and health professionals report. It has always been the contention that the higher, the better, since safety and health often needs some teeth when dealing with line management. The president of the company would be ideal. Of course, everyone realizes that due to size or other constraints, this is not always possible.

At one company, the author while sitting with the safety director trying to solve an existing accident problem for the company, the telephone was answered by saying, "Personnel." This told the whole story at once on what the safety director thought his/her job was and also provided an indication as to why they were having problems. The company did not have a true commitment to OSH. Commitment to OSH was only a necessary evil to this company. They had no direction in their program. This is a reason why commitment and actual support of safety and health are necessary.

Management helps to set the goals and objectives of the program and then signs off on them. Nothing can be accomplished in a positive fashion without attainable goals. Goals are the target. Most of us have been asked by others, "What are your goals?" If this cannot be answered, others will view the OSH effort as lost or at best nonmotivated. If goals have not been set, how will the workforce know what is expected of them in relation to OSH? This is why a company should not go through a year without setting some production goals, and logically, from this, OSH goals should be put in place.

Goals and objectives are very important and should be directly observable and measurable. They should be reasonable and attainable. The following are some examples of goals and objectives and the issues faced by those using them:

  • • Ensure zero fatalities or serious injuries. (This is usually a pie in the sky or unreachable goal for most employers. For example, if you had 25 accidents last year, 0 is probably not possible.)
  • • Reduce injuries, lost workday accidents, and workers' compensation claims by



  • • Prevent damage or destruction to company property or equipment. List real damage and destruction.
  • • Increase productivity through reduction of injuries by _____%.
  • • Reduce workers' compensation costs by decreasing the number of claims to _____

or cost by_%.

  • • Enhance company's image by working safely. Can you measure this in some way?
  • • Keep safety a paramount part of workers' daily activities. What are indicators of this? (They are the number of near misses, reports of hazards, or the number of observable unsafe acts.)
  • • Recognize and reward safe work practices. How is this part of a goal? What could be the measurable outcome of this objective?

Management should develop and implement a set of safety and health rules and policies. Since these rules are developed for the good and welfare of everyone, this is why everyone should obey and follow them at all times, even when it is not convenient. A manager should never enter a work area that requires protective eyewear without the required eyewear. No special favors should exist. After all, the manager is a direct reflection of management's commitment to the company's OSH. Managers are role models who must emulate the company's philosophy and commitment to the safety and health program, to which the top manager has given his support.

It cannot be expected that an OSH program can run without financial assistance. Thus, it is management's responsibility to support safety and health with an adequate budget. Safety and health should have its own allocated budgetary resources. This is the reason that a separate budget for OSH should be developed. In fact, safety and health should be managed like any other component of the company, whether it is research, development, or production. Management commitment should include tough love. This may sound silly, but what is meant is that if management is committed to enforcing its safety and health, to avoid any deviation from the company's rules and regulations and attaining its goals, there must be some form of disciplinary policy and procedure that results in negative consequences for failure to follow or abide by the company's safety and health expectations. See example under Chapter 19, "Workers." This is not just for the workforce but should be evenly applied to all of management and the line supervisors, for any events or times of noncompliance.

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