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New OSHA Guidance for Safety & Health Programs

February 6, 2017 Personal Injury

For more than 25-years, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been publishing guidelines on how safety and health programs can be utilized in the prevention of workplace illnesses and workplace injuries. The guidelines were written in 1989 and OSHA has simply republished the same guidelines each and every year in order to reinforce the agency’s recommendations. Now, however, OSHA has finally released updated guidance and has altered its suggestions to incorporate new knowledge and to better suit today’s workplaces.

Companies do not have to follow all of the suggestions OSHA makes when it comes to health and safety initiative guidelines. However, smart businesses will do everything possible to reduce the risk of worksite injuries and fatalities. Accidental injuries can be costly to deal with, and devastating for both the company and the employees who are harmed. Those employees who get hurt while on-the-job should consult with a New York workers’ compensation law firm to understand their options for pursuing a benefits claim.  Companies should try to avoid injuries leading to workers’ comp claims by following best practices for safety.

OSHA Updates Safety Guidelines to Provide Important New Injury-Prevention Tips

OSHA’s guidelines provide tips and advice that employers can utilize in implementing safety efforts. The voluntary guidelines have helped companies across a wide variety of industries, from higher education to tech to retail to public service. The guidelines both aim to make companies more sustainable and aim to show employers how to design safety and health programs that will systemically prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.

In this update, OSHA adjusted its guidelines to address multi-employer workplaces, which are becoming more common. OSHA also changed the focus of the guidelines to emphasize continuous improvement, and provided updated insight into how safety programs should be designed.

Over the years, a lot has been learned about how different safety programs and initiatives impact workplace injury rates. OSHA has updated the guidelines to reflect new knowledge.  For example, while traditional approaches to promoting work safety were generally reactive, addressing issues only after injury or illness happens, OSHA suggests being proactive so a safe environment can be created and maintained before something goes wrong.

OSHA identified seven core components that companies should incorporate when proactively developing safety and health programs. The components include:

  • Identifying workplace hazards through a safety assessment.
  • Preventing hazards and controlling hazards.
  • Working with management to take a leadership role in safety initiatives.
  • Finding ways to encourage employee participation.
  • Offering training and education to workers on hazards and risk avoidance.
  • Effective communication among staffing agencies, contractors, and employers.

OSHA believes these core principles are key to the development of proactive injury-preventing safety initiatives.

Unfortunately, injuries can still happen even if employers care about safety. Whether an employer has safety initiatives in place or not, injured workers still have rights if they get hurt at work. Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff can provide assistance to victims in seeking benefits following a workplace injury or fatality. These benefits can generally still be available even if an employer does everything right, since workers’ comp aims to provide the broadest possible protection for anyone injured on-the-job.