One of the upper management’s key duties in the development and administration of a Health and Safety Program is to ensure its effectiveness. In order to manage the program using a balanced approach, the program must have clearly defined objectives that upper management can assess. In most organizations, the senior management staff will develop policy objectives and delegate responsibility to human resources with collecting the necessary performance metrics data. Depending on the type of organization under review, the parameters can vary considerably in their particulars. Overall, there are some statistics that do remain consistent with every organization.
The Baseline of Success
There are essentially two types of success for an organization to strive for. There is success as measured by achieving the objectives outlined by upper management and success achieved by hitting regulatory agency standards. Organizational measures will have to be within compliance of the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) criteria at a minimum. OSHA regulates the environment of every organization by industry and size. Depending on the specific products, service, or operational nature of the organization OSHA will possibly have a very specific set of rules that must be adhered to. Success in achieving OSHA compliance is success in external metrics that the organization has no control over. The failure to comply with any metric of the OSHA standards can result in penalties that are challenging to overcome and draw unwanted attention in the form of audits and inspections that can be very costly.
One way organizations overcome the risks associated with noncompliance with OSHA standards is to maintain higher standards than those set by the government. Achieving success with the internal objectives is a crucial indicator of how a company would perform under the scrutiny of OSHA if there ever were an incident when the organizational standards are more intense than the OSHA standards. In converse speculation, if the company health and safety program is loosely constructed and the standards cannot be met then the corporation would not fare well under OSHA scrutiny. It is vital that management teams establish a baseline of success that is in excess of the requirements of OSHA and that they subsequently meet or exceed these elevated standards.
Of all the data that a company can review for measuring the success of its programs, there are three areas that must be given absolute priority over all other variables. A violation of these metrics is going to raise red flags at OSHA and place that company on the radar of the reporting agencies processing teams.
Deaths of employees or customers on the premises from work-related behaviors are unacceptable. There should never be an incident that creates the potential for the death of anyone as a result of negligence, incompetence, or intentional malpractice. Organizations that do facilitate a culture of haphazard conduct by its personnel will pay the ultimate price under the scrutiny of the law and its representatives. The shortest path to federal oversight of regulatory compliance in your organization is to have multiple incidents that result in death, or an event where reporting a death was not within statutory compliance. Failure to report within the established time frames is a serious offense. Every organization should have a firm grasp of the reporting requirements of the federal government and establish metrics that monitor this metric. One way to set or measure the ability of an organization to achieve success in this area is to simulate a death in the workplace and monitor the responsiveness of the management teams. Any deviation from the protocols of the Health and Safety policies of the company should result in retraining until the failures are overcome.
There is more to life than death, and it is the same with OSHA guidelines. In addition to the reporting and handling of death in the workplace, injuries and illness reporting play a major part of Health and Safety oversight. OSHA does not oversee the death of customers directly, just employees. While this may provide a little relief to organizations, it does not remove the liability of the company for actions that lead to any consumer illnesses. OSHA does oversee the loss of limbs, appendages, or serious illnesses in general. Because there is a dual concern for companies, there are a few metrics that are worth premier placement in the human resource department data collection team processing. Any illness or injury to a customer or an employee as a result of workplace behaviors or actions should receive serious attention from the upper management team. As human resources take notice of events of this nature, they have got to be aggressive in handling them in ways that comply with federal regulations completely. The reporting requirements may not be the same in terms of how quickly the data has to be processed with OSHA, but failing to meet the reporting requirements can have significant consequences.
Some pundits and critics will try to sell the idea that success is in the eye of the beholder. This is only true if the eye of the beholder is looking at the correct standards when it comes to compliance with health and safety programs. If your success is measured by having less than ten deaths a year from workplace incidents and your organization has nine fatalities, this is not success. The government regulations are put in place to mitigate the risk as much as possible. When organizations comply with federal oversight and promote safety then everybody benefits. No deaths, injuries, or illnesses are an accurate measure of success. If the business fails to accomplish this set of goals, reporting and follow-up to the incidents will determine the viability of the company’s health and safety programs. Keeping federal oversight out of your organization, now that is success.
About the author:
The writer, Ray Donato, is a freelance writer who specializes in health and safety matters, and sometimes writes on ways to prove your programs are working. If you’re not meeting your desired metrics, he recommends employing consulting and software from www.ecompliance.com. If you wish to learn more about Ray you can visit on Google+.