This year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is hosting its annual safety and health event, Safe + Sound Week, August 13-19. Safe + Sound Week is a nationwide event designed to emphasize the importance of workplace safety and health programs. By successfully implementing safety and health programs, companies can identify and address hazards before they cause injury or illness.
The idea behind Safe + Sound Week is the philosophy that a safe workplace creates a sound business. When companies invest in proactive safety programs, they take actions that improve the sustainability of work practices and their bottom line. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the rate of worker deaths and injuries have decreased by more than 60 percent since the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act was passed. However, every year, more than 5,000 workers are killed on the job, and more than 3.6 million suffer a serious job-related injury or illness.
Serious job-related injuries and illnesses don’t just hurt workers and their families; they also hurt businesses. Effective safety and health programs help prevent injuries and illnesses, which improves compliance with laws and regulations, reduces workers’ compensation costs, increases worker engagement, improves social responsibility, and enhances productivity and overall business operations.
Participating in Safe + Sound Week is a great way for companies to develop a new safety program or to revitalize an existing one. It’s also a great way for companies to demonstrate their commitment to safe, healthy workplaces to their workers, customers, the public, and supply chain partners.
There are three core elements of a good workplace safety and health program: management leadership, worker participation, and a systematic approach to finding and fixing hazards. An effective program starts with a commitment from company leaders to improve safety and health continually. Developing and communicating a safety and health policy, providing the necessary resources, and considering safety and health in planning and decision-making are some of the ways management can lead their programs by example.
Effective safety and health programs also depend on the contributions of experienced workers, who often know the most potential hazards of their jobs. Programs are most effective when workers can use their knowledge and insights to solve workplace safety and health challenges. Active participation helps keep workers involved and invested in the program.
The best way to prevent workplace incidents is to identify potentially hazardous conditions and address the hazard. The process of finding and fixing hazards is typically reactive, as hazards are often identified only after an incident has occurred. But the most effective programs use a systematic approach to eliminate hazards proactively before someone is hurt. Involving workers, reviewing all available information, conducting regular inspections, investigating incidents, and using the hierarchy of controls are all ways to take a proactive approach to hazard elimination.
The goal of OSHA’s Safe + Sound Week is to promote workplace safety and health practices and to help businesses of all kinds improve their safety and health programs. For more information or to learn about participating in Safe + Sound Week, visit osha.gov/safeandsoundweek.