Principles of Osh Management

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                               USING OSH TO BUILD COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

The extensive safety and health law and guidance can seem daunting to enterprises particularly SMEs, but
employers need not be overwhelmed. They should have the confidence that if they have the ideas,
systems and capacity to run a business, then they have the resources and talents to manage safety and

Understanding the drivers behind occupational safety and health (OSH), where they come from and the
principles behind them will help employers apply them more easily in practice and this information is aimed
at helping employers apply the common principles of OSH to the range of business objectives that they
have to achieve and the business operations that they have to manage.

The easiest way to manage safety and health is to make sure the OSH systems are aligned with and
integrated into existing business systems. OSH should not be managed or viewed as something separate
from other business functions.

When businesses have a particular challenge e.g. during mergers, takeovers, expansion and downsizing, a
focus on integrating and defining OSH management systems for the future entity can provide a unifying
and effective tool to assist the whole process.

There are many tools that contribute to good safety and health performance in business and together they
can give an enterprise a competitive edge when they are targeted towards the business objectives.


Clearly enterprises do not have legal obligations to their workforce about what they do in their homes or
their private lives where they have no control over them, but many companies recognise that accidents
and illhealth outside work mean costly absence from work. On a voluntary basis, they use the basic
information from risk assessments to advise their employees on how to prevent accidents in the home as
many activities in the home, such as DIY, electrical safety, storage of cleaning materials etc. are similar to
those encountered at work and the same principles of preventing harm can be applied.

                                                PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
                                               THE BUILDING BLOCKS FOR OSH

The key elements that influence occupational safety and health performance are
     The law
     A safety culture
     A prevention policy
     Risk management approach
     Occupational safety and health management systems

                                         PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
                                          OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH LAW

The OSH law and practice has often come from diverse sources depending on the country culture e.g.
common law remedy for negligence and compensation for injury, engineering controls to prevent
accidents and disasters, medical recognition of work-related illhealth, social and welfare provisions,
behavioural science.

Whatever its origins, occupational safety and health has generally been an area for laws and regulation
across global jurisdictions. In this way a baseline of enforceable minimum OSH standards has been
established, that all businesses have to respect to protect workers, prevent work-related harm and ill health
and so minimise business disruption and the risk of business failure.

At international level the ILO has developed instruments for OSH that require countries that ratify them to
transpose the provisions into national law. The European Union and many other political alliances have
developed their own instruments but many Member States took initiatives during the latter part of the 20th
Century to consolidate, often piecemeal bits of OSH technical requirements, into cohesive frameworks
unified by risk management principles.

Employers have the main duties to comply with safety and health standards. The law defines their
responsibilities and so endorses their authority to manage all matters relating to their business, including
occupational safety and health. The law also requires the cooperation of employees. This reflects the right
balance of authority and responsibility at the workplace.

                                                 PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH

At the international level, since its creation in 1919, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has been
developing instruments covering work, employment, social security, social policy and related human rights.
Nearly half deal directly or indirectly with occupational safety and health issues. They are developed by
government, employer and employee representatives coming to a consensus about the content, so that
the instruments can be applied in practice at the workplace as well as in principle in the legal and cultural
systems in each country.

The ILO has adopted more than 40 standards and over 40 Codes of Practice specifically dealing with
occupational safety and health. Their objective is to achieve safe and healthy working environments and if
they are applied in a way that is aligned with business objectives, they can also improve quality,
productivity and competitiveness at the enterprise level.

These instruments are focused on particular economic sectors, particular risks or workers particularly at risk. In
the past they have often been introduced in response to certain events and have developed in piecemeal
fashion. They are directed at the Governments of Member States who, if they ratify them, have to show
there is legislation and systems to put them into effect at the relevant workplaces.

                                                 PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH

  More recently it has been recognised that efforts to tackle OSH problems, whether at international or
  national levels, are often dispersed and fragmented and so do not have the most effective impact. A
  more strategic approach was adopted in the ILO global strategy of 2003 to make sure all players are
  working to the same end to improve performance at the workplace by:

         Developing relevant instruments aimed at the building and maintenance of a preventive safety
         and health culture at national levels,
         introduction of a systems approach to OSH management at the workplace.
         Promoting the instruments and providing technical assistance.
   The ILO Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (No. 187) was
  developed to start the process. It requires ratifying States to develop, in consultation with the most
  representative organizations of employers and workers, a national policy, national system, and national
  programme on occupational safety and health.

  National programmes include tools to promote occupational safety and health, and should have inbuilt
  means of measuring progress. National systems provide the machinery for implementing national policy
  and programmes on occupational safety and health comprising the laws, regulations, inspection and
  enforcing arrangements.

  A national preventative safety and health culture is one in which the right to a safe and healthy working
  environment is respected at all levels. Building and maintaining a preventative safety and health culture
  requires making use of all available means to increase general awareness, knowledge and
  understanding of the concepts of hazards and risks and how they may be prevented or controlled. Such
  a systems approach to OSH management at the enterprise level was developed in the ILO Guidelines on
  Occupational Safety and Health Management Systems (ILO-OSH 2001).

                                                   PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
                                            APPLYING THE LAW AT NATIONAL LEVEL

Ratification of the ILO instruments requires national systems but still relies heavily on national laws that can
be implemented by businesses and enforced by authorities. There are as many legal variations as there are
Member States and all are subject to particular interpretation in the light of the national legal systems,
cultures and sanction arrangements.


OSH legal systems fall into 2 broad categories:

Detailed legal obligations set in specific standards – e.g. for a simple case - every workplace must have x
numbers of sanitary conveniences per y employees and they must be kept clean etc etc

The risk assessment approach – employers must determine, in the light of the risks and working conditions,
the number of sanitary conveniences that are required and must install and maintain them. Usually there is
some supporting guidance which is similar to the standards but if an employer can justify deviating from this
e.g. most of their workers use the workplace as a meeting place for a couple of hours a week and travel
out from there then they could justify installing fewer than the stipulated standard.

Generally Employers Organisations support the approach that gives most flexibility from the law because

       the law, when stated in broad principles, does not need constantly updating to adapt to technical

       the flexible law allows employers to use innovative solutions and develop business opportunities
       from them

       employers can justify risk control measures that recognise the restrictions of existing conditions and
       the expense of retrofits

       employers can defend and justify their actions in the event of an incident, claim or infringement.

                                                  PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
                                             APPLYING THE LAW AT NATIONAL LEVEL

However, the more flexible approach requires a proactive effort by employers to identify, assess and
manage all risks at the workplace, identify those that are significant and justify the control measures
proposed. This may be viewed as an administrative burden but if performed in line with other business
systems can help track and manage business processes as they are performed in practice.

There are many people involved in workplace activities but the main legal duties in occupational safety
and health are those between employers and their employees. This often relates to the common or civil law
of employment contracts or other defined rules of the rights and obligations of employers and employees.

Many legal systems however recognise the interdependence of all who may be involved in the world of
work. The legal system may not be limited to the duties to those between employers and employees but
may place duties on the many other people involve work in their capacity as



       self employed

       people in control of premises e.g. landlords

       other people at the workplace e.g. visitors or contractors, employees of others

       people outside the workplace who may be affected by the work activity e.g. the public

       suppliers of equipment, goods and services used at the workplace

       competent persons contracted to provide advice to employers

                                               PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
                                           APPLYING THE LAW AT NATIONAL LEVEL

Generally the legal obligations reflect the strength of the relationship and the ability of the duty
holder to control the situation.

                                           PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH

Many jurisdictions relate the duty holders obligations to the workplace, work activities, work-related activities
or the world of work. These subtleties mean that there are different obligations and interpretations
depending on the legal systems and case law. Some jurisdictions interpret work or work-related activity very
broadly so that accidents to and from the workplace, between workplaces and commuting to work are
covered as well as work involving domestic workers in domestic premises. The workplace can be anywhere
where work takes place and many workers do not have static workplaces, they may be selling goods to
many other workplaces or they may be repairing equipment in domestic premises.

Some countries do not apply OSH law to all workplaces they may restrict it to specific areas of economic
activity .eg manufacturing generally, or have particular and different rules for special areas of economic
activity such as mining, fishing, agriculture and construction where a general framework would be more
challenging to apply because of the employment arrangements and rapidly changing workplace
conditions. Many countries exclude security and defence services from the framework of occupational
safety and health legislation as they believe that the legal obligations would undermine the ability of the
service to carry out their duties.

It is not always necessary to resort to legal arrangements but social dialogue between employers and
employees organisations national or regional level or between employers and employees at enterprise level
can come to agreements on specific issues that may take into account local conditions. Psychosocial
issues, such as stress or violence at work, where legislation may not be appropriate, could be dealt with by
tailored social dialogue agreements.

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                                                        DEVELOPING A SAFETY CULTURE

Developing a workplace safety culture relies on the cultural norms of the community and society in which
it operates. A safety culture comes from attitudes embedded in society, taught in the education system,
seen on television and in other media and encouraged in the workplace. These values change over time
as can be seen in public attitude to the wearing of car seat belts and protective clothing.

The culture of an organisation is the mix of shared values, attitudes and patterns of behaviour that give it
a particular character. It is the way that things are done and can be highly visible and easy to read. The
corporate culture can make the difference between mediocrity and excellence, between extinction and
survival. It extends beyond the workplace. An expensive advertising campaign can be completely
undermined by pictures of dilapidated worksites, quotes from dissatisfied suppliers and disgruntled
customers. Successful companies manage events rather than respond to them so that the manageable is
routine, freeing up resources to deal with a real crisis when it arises. However it is important that such
management does not become complacent as a result of good performance and that rules and
procedures do not become more important than the objective and end product itself.

The safety culture of an organisation is the ideas and beliefs that all members of the organisation share
about risk, accidents and ill health. Most successful businesses see ‗managed risk taking‘ as essential to
keep them at the edge of their game and maximize their entrepreneurial and innovative capacity. But it
is the eyes wide-open attitude that distinguishes them from the companies that thrash around, then
stumble and fail. It does not view safety and health management as a set of laws, rules and regulations
that impose costs and restrictions on enterprises, but sees safety and health as a competitive advantage
and business opportunity. Key attributes to the successful development and implementation of a safety
culture are:

       leadership and commitment of the chief executive.
       The role of line management, the involvement of all employees and openness of communication
       care and concern for all those affected by the business.

                                                PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH

Having set the scene, and adopted a culture for occupational safety and health, it is important for
companies to think about what they want to achieve and how. A prevention policy aims to anticipate and
prevent harm rather than simply having the systems to respond to an incident.

Particularly in health matters there is 3 stages of prevention - primary, secondary and tertiary prevention
which should be integrated. ―Primary prevention‖ refers to measures taken to prevent exposure.
―Secondary prevention‖ aims at preventing ill health occurring once an exposure has taken place e.g. post
-exposure prophylaxis, etc and ―Tertiary prevention‖ involves treatment and accommodation to prevent
disability, particularly from affecting normal life and the ability to work.

 Many countries legislation and the ILO Guidelines on Occupational Safety and Health Management
Systems (ILO-OSH 2001) require that enterprises write an Occupational Safety and Health Policy or an
Occupational Safety and Health Prevention Policy. This accepts that accidents, incidents and ill health can
be prevented and it should be within a company‘s objectives to achieve this. The written statement should
cover who will act and how the objectives will be achieved. These may be summarised in a headline
document and detailed elsewhere depending on the complexity of the organisation and the nature of the

There are templates for such company policies and it is possible to cut and paste, put the company logo on
it and hang a framed version prominently in the workplace reception. However a lot is to be gained by
thinking through what you really want to achieve and how you want to do that.

A policy statement indicates the degree of an employer's commitment to safety and health, it influences
future decisions and helps promote an effective programme. It is a pledge from the employer to the
employees and others and should be signed and dated by the Chief Executive Officer.

It is quite legitimate to state openly that your objective is for the company to comply with the standards
required by the legislation, or you may decide to be a good practice company or a company that goes
that step further to be a best practice performer. The choice is yours.

                                               PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
                                                     A PREVENTION POLICY STATEMENT

A prevention policy statement should cover the following:

       senior management's commitment
       responsibility and accountability of all personnel
       consultation and co-operation between management and employees for effective implementation
       regular reviews of the policy and monitoring its effectiveness, and
       commitment to provide resources

The policy statement should

       Detail the arrangements to implement it. E.g. safety meetings, safety training
       Identify the hazards associated with the workplace and the safe working procedures
       Establish communication with and involvement of employees
       Detail reporting arrangements
       Propose OSH performance targets
       Provide a clear link between the objectives and the workplace duties and actions

                                                PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
                                            CHECKLIST FOR PREVEN TION POLICY

Does the statement express a commitment to health and safety

Does it say which senior officer is responsible for seeing that it is implemented and reviewed, and how
this will be done

Is it signed by a senior executive     indicating ultimate responsibility for safety rests with senior

Have the views of managers, supervisors, safety representatives and safety committees been
discussed and considered

Does it show clearly how the duties for health and safety are allocated, and are the responsibilities
throughout the organisation described

Does it include the names of managers responsible for making the policy work in specific areas

Does it state the employer‘s duty and arrangements for instructing and training employees in health
and safety

Does it outline the development and maintenance of health and safety rules and procedures

Does it ensure that health and safety matters will be taken into account when planning new methods
processes or premises

Do people understand the part they have to play, how their performance is to be assessed and what
resources they have to carry out their tasks

Do people understand that the cooperation of all is essential to the success of the health and safety

                                           PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH

Does it say who is responsible for the following matters

           Investigation reports and accident records.

           Fire precautions and emergency procedures.

           First aid.

           Safety inspections.

           Training programmes.

Does it include arrangements for providing employees with comprehensible information on health,
safety and welfare matters

Are arrangements for liaison with contractors specified

Are health and safety considerations integrated and prioritised into procurement arrangements for
equipment and substances

                                            PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
                                                     RISK MANAGEMENT IN ENTERPRISES

Risk assessment and management is one of the key tools for companies to manage their occupational
safety and health risks in the same way as they manage other business risks. Many businesses may not have
thought about it this way and may not have recognised the discreet steps, but they remain in business
because they intuitively identify, assess and manage other business risks, such as financial, marketing and
human resources.

As the legislation in many countries and the ILO Guidelines on Occupational Safety and Health
Management Systems (ILO-OSH 2001) are also based on requirements to assess and manage risks, then this
approach should provide sound company safety and health performance, based on management systems
and procedures that also contribute to legal compliance.

A risk assessment and management approach provides a single framework to demystify the range of
occupational safety and health requirements that companies have to consider.

Sometimes experts can be very cautious in their risk management advice and extrapolate one incident to
generalise it as a common risk which then becomes counter to common sense e.g. in an unfortunate
incident during an outdoor event the branch of a tree broke and killed a spectator. Public authorities then
responded by insisting that all trees in the vicinity of an event venue be assessed.

It is therefore essential to keep a sense of proportion. Sensible risk management is not about:

       Creating a totally risk-free society
       Generating useless paperwork mountains that sit on the safety advisers shelves
       Scaring people by exaggerating or publicising trivial risks
       Stopping important recreational and learning activities for individuals where the risks are managed

                                                 PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
                                                      RISK MANAGEMENT IN ENTERPRISES

A risk assessment is an important step in protecting businesses and employees. It should help businesses
focus on the risks that really matter in their workplace – the ones with the potential to cause real harm.

In many instances, straightforward measures can readily control risks, for example ensuring spillages are
cleaned up promptly so people do not slip, or cupboard drawers are kept closed to ensure people do not
trip or cabinets fall over.

Obviously the more complex the risk – the more complex the thinking and methodology should be to come
up with ways of managing it. Sophisticated techniques are used to assess risks in petrol refineries and
nuclear power stations, involving fault tree analysis, decision tree analysis, failures rates of equipment etc.
but here we are just going to consider everyday workplaces and everyday risks.

For employers, a risk assessment is simply a careful examination of what, in your work, could cause harm to
people, so that you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to
prevent harm.

Employers will be wasting their time if they just consider the risk assessment /management process as an
exercise to identify risks and control measures, provide a written description that is then filed in an office.
Employers should consider it part of the whole management process of acting on the information, reviewing
it, improving it, amending it and acting on these changes.

                                                 PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH

           AND MANAGMENT





                      PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
                                                                               HAZARDS AND RISKS

There are 2 main concepts to grasp to begin the risk assessment and management process— ‗hazard‘ and

A hazard is anything that can cause harm. It comes from the inherent properties of the item e.g. chemicals,
electricity, working from ladders, noise, hot surfaces

Risk is the chance, high or low, that someone will be harmed by the hazard.


       The hazard of electricity does not create a risk if it is turned off.
       A chemical in a container does not cause a risk unless it starts leaking; someone moves it or starts
       using it.
       Someone touching the terminals of a 12 volt battery may feel a sting. Someone bridging the
       terminals of 11,000volts will most likely die.
       If there is a leak of dilute acid then you may get an acid burn on your skin. If there is a leak of
       cyanide that you inhale you will most likely die.

Risk assessment is the process of identifying the hazards and risks

Risk Management is making a judgement about how much effort you put into controlling the risk. 12 volt
batteries can be found on cars, 11,000v cable systems are either buried deep or suspended high. Dilute
acid can be carried in large tankers. Cyanide is only put in small containers, made in situ and completely
contained or only handled by people wearing chemical resistant air fed suits.

                                                   PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
                                                       STEP 1: IDENTIFY TH E HAZARD

Employers need to work out how people could be harmed in the workplace.

Working in a place every day makes it easy to overlook some hazards, so use all the resources to get a
full picture. Look at tasks from many perspectives and you may even see ways of getting production
efficiencies as well.

Walk around your workplace and look at what could cause harm.

Ask your employees as they may have noticed things that are not obvious to you.

Your employers’ organisation or trade association may have a model risk assessment or guidance that
can give you a start

Check manufacturers’ instructions or data sheets for chemicals and equipment

Look at accident and ill-health records – these often help to identify the less obvious hazards.

Think about long-term hazards to health (e.g. high levels of noise or exposure to harmful substances) as
well as safety hazards.

                                           PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH

For each hazard you need to be clear about who might be harmed; rather identifying groups of
people than individuals (e.g. ‗people working in the warehouse‘ or ‗visitors to loading bay‘).

Some workers may be particularly susceptible and have particular requirements, e.g. new and young
workers (who may not have experience and training), new or expectant mothers and people with
disabilities may be at particular risk.

Extra thought will be needed for some hazards; cleaners, visitors, contractors who come onto your site,
maintenance workers etc, who may not be in the workplace all the time; members of the public if
they could be hurt by your activities. E.g. cleaners may be asked to clean up spills of colourless liquids
that could be water or harmful chemicals. How can they know the difference – unless they deal with
each one as a worst case scenario and always wear high level protective clothing you will need a
system to train or inform them.

Identify how they might be harmed, i.e. what type of injury or ill health might occur. For example, ‗shelf
stackers may suffer back injury from repeated lifting of boxes‘

                                           PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
Having identified the hazards, you then have to decide what to do about them. You can work this out
for yourself, but the easiest way is to compare what you are doing with good practice.

There is a hierarchy of risk control measures to consider

     Controlling risks at source
     Adapting work to the individual
     Use personal protective equipment
You should always start with trying to get rid of the hazard altogether

     When controlling risks, consider the following in order:
     try a less risky option (e.g. switch to using a less hazardous chemical);
     prevent access to the hazard (e.g. by guarding);
     organise work to reduce exposure to the hazard (e.g. put barriers between pedestrians
     and traffic);
     issue personal protective equipment (e.g. clothing, footwear, goggles etc); and
     provide welfare facilities (e.g. first aid and washing facilities for removal of

                                           PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
Improving health and safety need not cost a lot. For instance, placing a mirror on a dangerous
blind corner in a warehouse to help prevent forklift truck accidents is a low-cost precaution
considering the risks. Failure to take simple precautions can cost you a lot more if an accident
does happen.

Precautions for maintenance workers may be quite different from those for production workers
as e.g. maintenance workers may be exposed to dangerous machine parts which they have to
repair or higher concentrations of chemicals that may be leaking from a container. They often
need specialist training and equipment.

                                          PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH

        This helps you be consistent in your decisions and share your thinking with employees. In the event that
        something happens it will at least enable you to justify that you had done a risk assessment and you
        can show;

             A proper check was made;
             You asked who might be affected;
             You dealt with all the obvious significant hazards, taking into account the number of
             people who could be involved;
             The precautions are reasonable, and the remaining risk is low; and
             You involved your staff or their representatives in the process.

        But it is not just the report of findings that is important it is taking action on them that is the
        whole point of managing occupational safety and health risks.

   You may find that you have quite a long list of improvement to be made - some may be minor and some
   major. You don‘t have to tackle them all at once but you need to show you have a sensible programme to
   deal with the most serious things first.

                                                   PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
                        STEP 5: MONITOR PERF ORMANCE AND REVIEW
     Taking action and ensuring that it is effective in dealing with the challenges and risks you
     have identified is the most important part of the whole process.

     The Safety and health actions should be integrated into normal standard operating
     procedures and that way supervision of the process will be monitoring safety and health
     outcomes as well

     This should be supplemented by regular audits—and a mixture of fundamental root audits
     looking at all aspects, as well as spot checks is best. These can be carried out by trained in-
     house staff or by external auditors. In which case, there may be an opportunity to gain
     verified certification to a recognised standard.

     If in-house staff perform audits the team should involve safety representatives and other
     staff from departments or sites other than that being audited.

     You should ensure that if problems are found or it is clear that the original plans are not
     working, then action should be taken to feed back into the beginning of the risk assessment
     process. And reassess whether you had identified the right risks and control measures or
     whether the procedures are not being followed as you had planned.

If your workers move round a lot from site to site, you need to identify the hazards you can
reasonably expect and assess the risks from them. This general assessment should stand you in
good stead for the majority of your work. You need to train your workers to check that the
conditions, at the site at the time that the work will be done, match the situation of your risk
assessment. If there are significant differences you need to have a procedure for the site workers
to be able to deal with them.

If you share a workplace, tell the other employers and self-employed people there about any
risks your work could cause them, and what precautions you are taking. Also, ask others what
their risks are and how they could affect your workers.

                                             PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
Workplaces are constantly changing so you should have a formal regular review to see that the decisions
you made are still valid e.g.

       you may have made changes or
       you may have heard of a situation that you previously judged to be safe but someone had an acci-
       dent in a way that you hadn’t anticipated.
       your workers also change, someone may return to work after a back injury and you may need to ma-
       ke allowances for that, you may take on work experience people who may need special supervision.
These are all opportunities for learning and improving. if you know there are changes then that should trigger
a review well before your regular planned one.

                                                 PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
                                               TAKE A COMMON SENSE APPROACH

Some people consider that the difference between the outcomes is often the result of luck (good or bad)
e.g. there was no one under the scaffolding when the load of bricks toppled over onto the street. But
good risk management means you don’t have to rely on luck, the scaffolding would have had good
edge protection, bricks were not stored on scaffolding and people were not allowed to walk immediately
under the scaffolding.

You can‘t always rely on luck but at least a risk assessment and risk management approach will put the
odds in your favour. You and your risk management will make the difference to the outcome.

Of course there are always the commentators that say how dangerous a bucket of water is if you put your
head in it for 10 minutes. Risk assessment can be a high science, when applied to designing nuclear
power stations or it can be an art when trying to estimate the likelihood of an event for which you have no
experience. But your assessment will often be as valid as that of the labour inspector before the event. The
difference is often that you have seen an activity many times without an accident and the labour
inspector might only investigate the same activity when there has been an accident. The power that
labour inspectors have comes from knowledge gained after an event, but risk assessments are not meant
to be done in hindsight. However, you are expected to learn from knowledge of previous incidents. It is
just more challenging for employers to have that knowledge of previous incidents.

                                                PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
                                                        SOME HAZARDS TO THINK ABOUT
What can cause an outcome and how much is needed for the outcome to be life threatening or to threaten
your business.
In evaluating risks and prioritising action it might help to consider how harm arises and some of the
consequences. As a very broad consideration think about the following list as though it was something that
happened in a small general workplace or even at home.

Obviously they are not exact categories as most of the elements that could cause serious injury could also
in extreme circumstances cause death or indeed may not even cause an injury at all.

          What can cause death? e.g.
          Falls from height

          What can cause serious injury? e.g.
          Objects falling from heights
          Lack of oxygen
          Vehicles/traffic routes
          Toxic chemicals
          Machinery hazards
          High/low pressure

          What can cause injury and ill health? e.g.
          Chemical or Biological agents
          Radiation - ionising/non-ionising
          Hot/cold temperatures - Surfaces or liquids
          Noise and vibration
          Slips/trips on a level
          Extreme weather conditions

                                                PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
                                                              MORE HAZARDS TO CONS IDER
          What can affect wellbeing? e.g.
          Constantly having unachievable deadlines,
          Unreliable teams,
          Stress, Harrassment

          What are the risks to business continuity? e.g.
          Destruction of premises and processes
          Disconnection of protection systems
          Destruction of process
          Loss of integrity of systems
          Loss of reputation

Many companies overlook one of the main risks that many of their workers are exposed to and cause more deaths
and injuries than ‗traditional workplace accidents‘. Some countries consider accidents to and from work as
occupationally related whilst others do not. Hence the difficulty in comparing occupational injury statistics worldwide.
But whatever country you are in, the number of road traffic accidents and often the number of accidents in the
home will be far more than the number of ‗traditional workplace accidents‘. Think of these for your business. Your
sales force, your delivery people, your service engineers are at work when they are driving on company business and
are far more likely to be injured in a road traffic accident than your production employees are to be injured at the

Knowing that, means that you should take action to minimise the risks by making sure company vehicles are properly
maintained, loads are balanced and secured, and drivers are well trained, driving hours well managed and drivers
do not use substances that impair their performance. However, of course you cannot influence the many other road
users and often after an accident the true cause does not come to light. Unfortunately it is so easy to lay the blame
at the ‗deepest pocket‘. So even after the most perceptive risk assessment and management process, make sure
that you have the appropriate insurance cover.

                                                     PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH

   There are many examples of management systems that provide more detail on national and company
   measures to manage safety and health at the workplace. Some of them provide a holistic view of the OSH
   management process from safe design through operation to decommissioning. They also look at normal
   working, maintenance, onsite emergencies and emergencies that may involve or have an effect on
   people outside the site. Many of them are based on engineering principles but they follow the concepts
   that have been discussed above.

   Many of them are capable of being integrated with environment, security, quality systems and other
   management systems allowing companies to gain efficiency by minimising duplication.

   Whatever the system, five key elements are identified as required to make it effective and provide
   measurable benefit to the organisation that decides to adopt it.

          Obtaining the support and involvement of all stakeholders: This is vital for an organisation-
          wide sense of accountability, responsibility and authority. Management must be fully
          committed to the initiative and provide the necessary resources. At the same time,
          employees need to participate in the programme from the outset, either directly or via
          representative bodies, such as safety committees.
          Setting measurable goals, following a baseline hazard assessment: A risk assessment needs
          to be conducted to identify existing and potential problem areas. Quantifiable and
          practically achievable goals to improve OSH standards also have to be set. These can
          range from illness and injury rates, possibly benchmarked against enterprises in the same
          sector, to measures of the workforce's general health and well-being.

                                               PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
       Focusing on staff safety when implementing the system: The health and safety of staff should
       be centre stage, supported by training and appropriately qualified OSH personnel. Clearly
       documented and well-publicised OSH management procedures are equally important,
       including preventive measures to protect staff and hazard control systems to reduce the
       impact of any unexpected problems. Procuring goods and services that conform to the
       organisation's safety standards is also advisable.
       Communicating progress and 'room for improvement': An OSH audit system is needed to
       monitor safety and health and investigate and analyse the root causes of any accidents.
       The results, together with other OSH-related information, should be regularly communicated
       across the organisation to foster an OSH culture.
       Working towards continual improvement: Regular management reviews of the system are
       required in order to identify areas where it can be improved, especially if there are major
       organisation changes. It is essential that the system is integrated into every facet of the
       business, including linking it to existing management systems.

There is much benefit in adopting a systematic OSH management approach. This can help companies to
ensure a high level of protection of their workforce and is likely to improve overall performance. But there is
no ‗one-size-fits-all‘ formula in this field. OSH management approaches like other areas of company
management must be tailored to the organisation's needs and circumstances.

                                                  PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
                                                                        RECOGNITION SCHEMES

Some of these systems are audited by external consultants and the company can be certified in line with
an internationally recognisable standard. Such recognition schemes can help establish and defend a
company‘s reputation with their suppliers, customers, workers and investors.

There are a large number of schemes worldwide that ‗recognise‘ specific products, service providers, and
companies as OSH-friendly. The initiators of schemes include sector organisations, public authorities, expert
organisations, trade unions and insurance companies.

Some are quite limited in their application and what they seek to achieve, for example, the inclusion of a list
of good practice items to be followed or an attempt to increase the level of OSH awareness within the

Others are acknowledged voluntary certification systems that are comprehensive schemes with extensive
documentation. Companies should be well aware of these limitations and what it might signify for their
stakeholders. It would be inappropriate to put in place significant systems for recognition that only provided
a limited statement or recognition of achievement or applications.

Regardless of their size, sophistication or scope such schemes can be effective in promoting or improving
OSH performance, providing they themselves meet certain criteria. It is clear that schemes should relate to
the main elements of the OSH management system, having policies, organisation, planning and
implementing, evaluating and acting for improvement, for example as given in the ILO Guidelines on OSH
management systems.

                                                  PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
                                              A GOOD RECOGNITION SCHEME

takes account of the positive, developmental improvement in participating enterprises’ OSH
takes account of OSH performance at all levels in the enterprise;
requires senior management commitment and involvement in a formalised way;
requires worker and trade union participation;
promotes the improvement of training and education of workers in OSH issues;
requires contractors to be considered as equals to workers in the application of the best
uses guidelines that are well-structured and easy to use;
requires a systematic follow-up of participants (not just a one-off recognition);
promotes continuous improvement;
links into, or has the potential to link into, other quality initiatives in the participating
provides meaningful benefits to participants;
promotes the sharing of best practice and therefore is concerned about the transferability of
best practice to other workplaces etc.;
is open and transparent;
involves social partners;
plans a regular update of its criteria, as a quality assurance;
has been expanded or applied in more than one country.

                                       PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH
                                                                                  CONTACT INFORMATION

                                          Dr. Janet L ASHERSON
                                          Environment, Safety and Health
                                          International Organisation of Employers
                                          Phone       :    +41(022) 929 00 08
                                          Fax         :    +41(0)22 929 00 01
                                          E-mail      :

This information is provided as guidance only to assist employers consider approaches to use to manage occupational
safety and health risks. It is not comprehensive and definitive and could never cover all the risks, control measures and
different legislation in all the countries of the world. It is intended that employers could use it as a basis and adapt it for
their own situations and circumstances. I would welcome any comments that would improve the publication and help
me to help you.
May 2010

                                                        PRINCIPLES FOR MANA GING OSH

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