In November of 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released draft documentation of their Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines to the public, seeking commentary that would help optimize the outlined changes.
In early March, the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH), a branch of OSHA that advises leaders within the Administration about occupational safety and health programs and regulations, approved the public commentary that was offered on the document. This allows OSHA to move forward with the proposed guideline updates, though they can edit the draft version as they see fit.
The suggested Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines are intended to replace and update the guidelines of the same name that were first released in 1989. Neither the original nor the new management guidelines impose any official regulatory standards; instead, they serve as suggestions for the best ways companies can establish, manage and maintain proper safety and health programs.
The guidelines establish seven “Core Elements” that health and safety programs should include. They are as follows: Management Leadership, Worker Participation, Hazard Identification and Assessment, Hazard Prevention and Control, Education and Training, Program Evaluation and Improvement, and Coordination and Communication on Multiple Worksites.
Each core element has several associated “Action Items,” which themselves have sub-items that are examples of steps that workers and employers should take in order to keep up and improve their safety and health programs. The draft documentation does make a point to say that these are not necessarily the right steps for every company to follow, saying “While the action items are specific, they are not prescriptive. There may be several ways to implement each core element and action item. Your safety and health program can and should evolve.
Experimentation, evaluation, and program changes are all part of the process.”