Most employers and employees recognize the need to create a safe and healthful workplace, but some find it difficult to prepare a program or identify the necessary resources. This document will serve as a guide to assist employers and employees in the development of a basic occupational safety and health program. Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) recommends that all occupational safety and health programs meet or exceed these core elements.
Reducing injuries and illnesses can save money.
An effective safety and health management program has economic benefits for an employer. Recent evidence suggests that a comprehensive occupational safety and health program can be an effective way to reduce the cost of absenteeism and lost production time. In addition, where effective safety and health management is practiced, injury and illness rates are significantly lower than rates at comparable work sites where safety and health programs are weak or non-existent. Lower injury and illness rates can translate into significantly reduced workers’ compensation costs.
Effective management of safety and health protection may also reduce other less obvious costs of work-related injuries and illnesses. Research indicates that for every dollar that an employer spends on the direct cost of a work-related injury and/or illness, more will be spent to cover indirect and hidden cost. For example, one work related injury might cost an employer:
$$$ Productive time lost by an injured employee, the supervisor, and other affected employees
$$$ Clean up and start up of operations interrupted by the accident
$$$ Time to hire or to retrain other individuals to replace an injured worker
$$$ Time and cost for repair or replacement of any damaged equipment or materials
$$$ Cost of continuing all or part of the injured employee's wages, in addition to compensation and medical payments
$$$ Reduced morale among employees
$$$ Increased workers' compensation insurance rates
For every dollar in medical or insurance compensation costs for a worker injury (direct cost), $5 to $50 more is likely to be spent to repair building, tool, or equipment damage; to replace damaged products or materials; or to make up for losses from production delays and interruptions (indirect cost). An additional $1 to $3 will be spent for hiring and training replacements and for time to investigate the incident (Management Guide to Loss Control, Frank E. Byrdm, Jr.).
There are other benefits of an effective safety and health program. The program provides an excellent basis for generating cooperative efforts between management and employees that may lead to increased worker morale, efficiency and productivity.
One plant manager found that during the first three years of participation in a voluntary safety and health program, the implementation of a single safe work practice at his 44 employee plant resulted in a greater volume of product and a reduction in rejected product. This change alone saved $265,000 a year. (Proceedings of Public Information Gathering Meeting of Suggested Guidelines for General Safety and Health Programs, U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Docket No. C-02, p-77, October 6, 1988).
MOSH and OSHA requirements
Many industries and workplaces must comply with very specific safety and health requirements due to the nature of the work processes and the standards governing them. MOSH and OSHA have adopted more than 600 safety and health standards and more than 700 Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs). It is essential that, as part of the safety and health program development process, a determination be made as to the specialized processes at the worksite and the safety and health protection required by applicable standards.
MOSH and OSHA standards also include specific monitoring, medical surveillance, and record-keeping requirements. It is imperative that the safety and health manager identify the applicable standards and include the necessary procedures and documentation in the program.
Any agenda for a safe and healthful workplace must include appropriate elements of recognition, evaluation, control, and surveillance. MOSH offers small employers an on-site Consultation Program that provides free of charge advice and analysis on preventing workplace hazards. Some workers' compensation insurance carriers offer the services of a risk-management expert to assist in the preparation of a safety and health program and in reviewing workplace operations and applicable MOSH/OSHA standards.
Each safety and health program must be specific to the site and the operations.
Many considerations will affect the formality, complexity and organization of a company's safety and health program. Some of the major considerations are:
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