Employment: OSHA Encourages Injury and Illness Prevention Programs
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") recently issued a white paper detailing the benefits of and encouraging employers to implement injury and illness prevention programs. An injury and illness prevention program is a proactive process to help employers find and fix workplace hazards before workers are hurt. The main goal of injury and illness prevention programs is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, deaths, the suffering these events cause workers, and the financial hardships they impose on both workers and employers. Oklahoma encourages the implementation of these programs through reductions in workers' compensation premiums.
Each year, 4,500 workers lose their lives and nearly 4 million are seriously injured on the job. OSHA believes the adoption of injury and illness prevention programs can help businesses improve their compliance with existing laws and regulations, decrease workplace injuries and illnesses, reduce costs, and enhance overall business operations. Furthermore, studies show that injury and illness prevention programs transform workplace cultures, improve morale and communication, enhance image and reputation, increase productivity, and improve processes, products, and services.
Most successful injury and illness prevention programs include a similar set of common-sense elements that focus on finding workplace hazards and developing a plan for preventing and controlling those hazards.
Accordingly, OSHA has identified five basic elements of a successful program:
management leadership and worker participation,
hazard identification and assessment,
hazard prevention and control,
education and training, and
program evaluation and improvement.
However, illness and injury prevention programs should certainly be tailored to the employer, as every business is different and one size does not fit all. Programs should be scaled and adapted to meet the needs of the business, depending on size, industry sector, or complexity of operations.
** We will discuss this issue in greater depth at The Employer's Workshops on April 5 (Oklahoma City) and April 17 (Tulsa). **
By Ken Short, email@example.com