OSHA Handbook for Small Businesses

Establish Your Four-Point Safety and Health Program

Establish Your Four-Point Safety and Health Program

The success of any workplace safety and health program depends on careful planning. This means that you have taken time to think through what you want to accomplish, and you may even have a general idea of what it will take to accomplish your goals. Based on that, you can design a step by step process that will take you from the idea stage to having a fully effective operation.

The most effective way to create the safest possible workplace for you and your employees is to institute the Four-Point Program discussed in Section II of this handbook. Use the guidance presented in Section II to help you develop your program.

Establish your management commitment and involve your employees. No safety and health program will work, especially in the long term, without this commitment and involvement. You should have already taken the first step by designating the person who will be responsible for your program.

Be certain that your employees are as widely involved in the program as possible from the beginning. They are the people most in contact with the potential and actual safety and health hazards at your worksite. They will have constructive input into the development of your safety and health program. Its ultimate success will depend upon their support—support that will be more forthcoming for a program in which they have had a meaningful input.

Make sure your program assigns responsibility and accountability to all employees in your organization. A good safety and health program makes it clear that each and every employee from you through the supervisory levels to the line worker is responsible for his or her part of the program. You will make their safety and health duties clear and each of them will be held accountable for his or her safety and health related duties.

Refer to the recommended actions to take in Section II - Worksite Analysis. These will help start your program off on the right track. You will be building the foundation for a successful safety and health program.

Establish and regularly conduct your worksite analysis. You cannot have a successful Safety and Health Program if it has not identified all the hazards and potential hazards present in your workplace. This is an ongoing process that includes routine self-inspections if you are to know where probable hazards exist and whether or not they are under control.

Create the systems and procedures necessary to prevent and control the hazards that have been identified through your worksite analysis. These control procedures will be your basic means for preventing accidents. The OSHA standards that have been promulgated can be of great assistance to you since they address controls in order of effectiveness and preference. The hierarchy of controls is a follows: engineering, administrative, work practice and personal protective equipment. Whenever feasible, engineering, administrative, or work practice controls should be instituted even though they may not eliminate the hazard or reduce exposure to or below the permissible exposure limit. They must, however, be used in conjunction with personal protective equipment to reduce the hazard or exposure to the lowest practical level. Where no standard exists, creative problem solving and consultant resources should help you create effective controls. The basic formula OSHA follows is, in order of preference:

  • Eliminating the hazard from the machine, the method, the material or the plant structure.
  • Abating the hazard by limiting exposure or controlling it at its source.
  • Training personnel to be aware of the hazard and to follow safe work procedures to avoid it.
  • Prescribing personal protective equipment for protecting employees against the hazard.

Be sure to establish and provide ongoing training for employees, supervisors and managers. This should ensure that everyone at your worksite will know about the hazards that exist and how to control them.

Each of these points is crucial if you want to establish a safe and healthful workplace for you and your employees. Together, these elements reinforce your program, thereby making it more difficult for accidents to occur and for work-related health problems to develop.

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