Managing safety and health is an integral part of managing a business. Businesses need to do a risk assessment to find out about the hazards and risks in their workplace(s) and put measures in place to effectively control them to ensure these hazards and risks cannot cause harm to workers.
The ILO has produced guidelines on the development of occupational safety and health management systems ILO-OSH 2001
These guidelines were designed as a practical tool for assisting organizations (a company, operation, firm, undertaking, establishment, enterprise, institution or association, or part of it, whether incorporated or not, public or private, that has its own functions and administration) and competent institutions as a means of achieving continual improvement in occupational safety and health (OSH) performance. The guidelines have been developed according to internationally agreed principles defined by the ILO’s tripartite constituents. The practical recommendations of these guidelines are intended for use by all those who have responsibility for OSH management.
Occupational safety and health, including compliance with the OSH requirements pursuant to national laws and regulations, is the responsibility and duty of the employer. The employer should show strong leadership and commitment to OSH activities in the organization, and make appropriate arrangements for the establishment of an OSH management system. The system should contain the main elements of policy, organizing, planning and implementation, evaluation and action for improvement, as shown in figure 1.
Case study: An example of an OSH management system.
An employer’s policy is to ensure the safety and health of its workers and it has dedicated resources and personal to fulfil this desire and is committed to ensuring worker participation to achieve this.
The OSH manager is tasked with ensuring a safe workplace and is held accountable by management to achieve this and this has been communicated to workers. The OSH manager’s competence is enhanced by the attendance of training courses.
The employer uses chemical products in their manufacturing process and risk assessments have been conducted on their use and risk control measures are in place to ensure safe systems of work can be followed. Action plans have been developed to enhance the control measures to assist in reducing the risks.
The maintenance team present conducts planned preventative maintenance to ensure the control measures are functioning correctly to reduce the risks and with the aim of reducing the need for breakdown maintenance.
Through a management review of the process and in discussions with workers decisions were made to revise the use of some of the chemicals and to replace the extraction system that was in place thereby enhancing the control measures.
The OSH management system cycle recommenced with this announcement to workers.
This section provides information on what employers need to consider when managing health and safety and assessing the risks in their workplace. It shows how they can follow the continual improvement approach as shown above.
In this section:
Occupational safety and health policy
The employer, in consultation with workers and their representatives, should set out in writing an OSH policy to which they are committed and which is communicated to all workers.More information
The policy should be:
Worker participation is an essential element of the OSH management system in the organization.
The employer should ensure that workers and their safety and health representatives are consulted, informed and trained on all aspects of OSH, including emergency arrangements, associated with their work.
The employer should make arrangements for workers and their safety and health representatives to have the time and resources to participate actively in the processes of organizing, planning and implementation, evaluation and action for improvement of the OSH management system.
The employer should ensure, as appropriate, the establishment and efficient functioning of a safety and health committee and the recognition of workers’ safety and health representatives, in accordance with national laws and practice.
Responsibility and accountability
The employer should have overall responsibility for the protection of workers’ safety and health, and provide leadership for OSH activities in the organization.
The employer and senior management should allocate responsibility, accountability and authority for the development, implementation and performance of the OSH management system and the achievement of the relevant OSH objectives.More information
Structures and processes should be established which:
Competence and training
The necessary OSH competence (includes education, work experience and training, or a combination of these) requirements should be defined by the employer, and arrangements established and maintained to ensure that all persons, in particular new and young workers have been trained and are competent to carry out the safety and health aspects of their duties and responsibilities.
The employer should have, or should have access to, sufficient OSH competence to identify and eliminate or control work-related hazards and risks, and to implement the OSH management system.More information
Under the arrangements referred to in the first paragraph above, training programmes should:
Occupational safety and health management system documentation
According to the size and nature of activity of the organization, the OSH management system documentation should be established and provided to all members of the organization so that management and workers fully comprehend their respective duties and responsibilities and how OSH is managed in the organization.More information
The documentation may cover:
Workers should have the right to access records relevant to their working environment and health, while respecting the need for confidentiality.
OSH records may include:
Arrangements and procedures should be established and maintained for:
Planning and Implementation
The organization’s existing OSH management system and relevant arrangements should be evaluated by an initial review, as appropriate. In the case where no OSH management system exists, or if the organization is newly established, the initial review should serve as a basis for establishing an OSH management system.More information
The initial review should be carried out by competent persons, in consultation with workers and/or their representatives, as appropriate. It should:
System planning, development and implementation
The purpose of planning should be to create an OSH management system that supports:
Arrangements should be made for adequate and appropriate OSH planning, based on the results of the initial review, subsequent reviews or other available data. These planning arrangements should contribute to the protection of safety and health at work, and should include:
Occupational safety and health objectives
Consistent with the OSH policy and based on the initial or subsequent reviews, measurable OSH objectives should be established, which are:
Prevention and control measures
Hazards and risks to workers’ safety and health should be identified and assessed on an ongoing basis. Preventive and protective measures should be implemented in the following order of priority:
Hazard prevention and control procedures or arrangements should be established and should:
A hazard is something in an organization that has the inherent potential to cause injury or damage to people’s health, such as chemicals, electricity and working at height. Risk is when a hazard and person come together. Risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody could be harmed by the hazard, together with an indication of how serious the harm could be.
Management of change
The impact on OSH of internal changes (such as those in staffing or due to new processes, working procedures, organizational structures or acquisitions) and of external changes (for example, as a result of amendments of national laws and regulations, organizational mergers, and developments in OSH knowledge and technology) should be evaluated and appropriate preventive steps taken prior to the introduction of changes.
A workplace hazard identification and risk assessment should be carried out before any modification or introduction of new work methods, materials, processes or machinery. Such assessment should be done in consultation with and involving workers and their representatives, and the safety and health committee, where appropriate.
The implementation of a “decision to change” should ensure that all affected members of the organization are properly informed and trained.
For further information of how organizations can reduce the risks through hazard identification and risk assessment see the section on controlling the risks.
Emergency prevention, preparedness and response
Emergency prevention, preparedness and response arrangements should be established and maintained. These arrangements should identify the potential for accidents and emergency situations, and address the prevention of OSH risks associated with them. Quick and effective action may help to ease the situation and reduce the consequences. However, in emergencies people are more likely to respond reliably if they:
The arrangements should be made according to the size and nature of activity of the organization.More information
The arrangements should:
Have employers considered the following
matters with regards to emergency procedures?
Procedures should be established and maintained to ensure that:
Arrangements should be established and maintained for ensuring that the organization’s safety and health requirements, or at least the equivalent, are applied to contractors and their workers.More information
Arrangements for contractors working on site should:
Performance monitoring and measurement
Procedures to monitor, measure and record OSH performance on a regular basis should be developed, established and periodically reviewed. This activity is vital and many subject areas can be studied to establish what is working well and what could be improved. Responsibility, accountability and authority for monitoring at different levels in the management structure should be allocated.More information
The selection of performance indicators should be according to the size and nature of activity of the organization and the OSH objectives.
Both qualitative and quantitative measures appropriate to the needs of the organization should be considered. These should:
Performance monitoring and measurement should:
Monitoring should provide:
Active monitoring should contain the elements necessary to have a proactive system and should include:
Reactive monitoring should include the identification, reporting and investigation of:
Investigation of work-related injuries, ill health, diseases and incidents, and their impact on safety and health performance
The investigation of the origin and underlying causes of work-related injuries, ill health, diseases and incidents should identify any failures in the OSH management system and should be documented.
Such investigations should be carried out by competent persons, with the appropriate participation of workers and their representatives.
The results of such investigations should be communicated to the safety and health committee, where it exists, and the committee should make appropriate recommendations.More information
The results of investigations, in addition to any recommendations from the safety and health committee, should be communicated to appropriate persons for corrective action, included in the management review and considered for continual improvement activities.
The corrective action resulting from such investigations should be implemented in order to avoid repetition of work-related injuries, ill health, diseases and incidents.
Reports produced by external investigative agencies, such as inspectorates and social insurance institutions, should be acted upon in the same manner as internal investigations, taking into account issues of confidentiality.
For further information on this topic see the section on accidents and investigations.
Arrangements to conduct periodic audits are to be established in order to determine whether the OSH management system and its elements are in place, adequate, and effective in protecting the safety and health of workers and preventing incidents.
An audit policy and programme should be developed, which includes a designation of auditor competency, the audit scope, the frequency of audits, audit methodology and reporting.
The audit includes an evaluation of the organization’s OSH management system elements or a subset of these, as appropriate.More information
The audit should cover:
The audit conclusion should determine whether the implemented OSH management system elements or a subset of these:
Audits should be conducted by competent persons internal or external to the organization who are independent of the activity being audited.
The audit results and audit conclusions should be communicated to those responsible for corrective action.
Consultation on selection of the auditor and all stages of the workplace audit, including analysis of results, are subject to worker participation, as appropriate.
Management reviews should:
The management review should consider:
The findings of the management review should be recorded and formally communicated to:
Action for Improvement
Preventive and corrective action
Arrangements should be established and maintained for preventive and corrective action resulting from OSH management system performance monitoring and measurement, OSH management system audits and management reviews. These arrangements should include:
When the evaluation of the OSH management system or other sources show that preventive and protective measures for hazards and risks are inadequate or likely to become inadequate, the measures should be addressed according to the recognized hierarchy of prevention and control measures, and completed and documented, as appropriate and in a timely manner.
Arrangements should be established and maintained for the continual improvement of the relevant elements of the OSH management system and the system as a whole.More information
The arrangements should take into account:
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Controlling the Risks
As part of managing the safety and health of the organization, the employer must identify the hazards and control the risks in their workplace. To do this they need to think about what might cause harm to workers and others and decide whether they are doing enough to prevent that.
This process is known as risk assessment.
Risk assessment is about identifying and taking sensible and proportionate measures to control the risks in the workplace, not about creating huge amounts of paperwork.
Organizations are probably already taking steps to protect their workers, but the risk assessment will help them decide whether they should be doing more.
Employers should think about how accidents and ill health could happen and concentrate on real risks – those that are most likely and which will cause the most harm.
For some risks, national legislation may require particular control measures. The organization’s assessment will help identify whether it needs to look at certain risks and these particular control measures in more detail.
Mandated control measures should be assessed as part of the overall risk assessment.
Identify the hazards
One of the most important aspects of the risk assessment is accurately identifying the potential hazards in the workplace. An unidentified hazard cannot be controlled.
Employers in conjunction with their workers can start by walking around the workplace and thinking about any hazards. In other words, what is it about the activities, processes or substances used that could injure workers or harm their health?More information
When people work in a place every day it is easy to overlook some hazards, some tips to help employers and workers identify hazards include
Who might be harmed?
Then think how workers (or others who may be present such as contractors or visitors) might be harmed. Asking the workers what they think the hazards are is essential, as they may notice things that are not obvious and may have some good ideas on how to control the risks.
For each hazard employers need to be clear about who might be harmed – it will help them identify the best way of controlling the risk. That doesn’t mean listing everyone by name, but rather identifying groups of workers/people (e.g. ‘people working in the storeroom’ or ‘passers-by’).More information
Evaluate the risks
Having identified the hazards, organizations then have to decide how likely it is that harm will occur, i.e. the level of risk and what to do about it.
Risk is a part of everyday life and organizations are not expected to eliminate all risks. What they must do is make sure they know about the main risks and the things they need to do to manage them responsibly. Generally, they need to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm.More information
The risk assessment should only include what could reasonably be expected to be known – organizations are not expected to anticipate unforeseeable risks. They should look at what they are already doing and the control measures already have in place ensuring that the OSH hierarchy of controls are followed namely;
Improving safety and health need not cost a lot. For instance, placing a mirror on a blind corner to help prevent vehicle accidents is a low-cost precaution considering the risks. Failure to take simple precautions can cost organizations a lot more if an accident does happen.
Organizations must involve their workers, so they can be sure that what they propose to do will work in practice and won’t introduce any new hazards.
If organizations control a number of similar workplaces containing similar activities, they could produce a ‘model’ risk assessment reflecting the common hazards and risks associated with these activities.
In some cases ‘model’ assessments are developed by trade associations, employers’ bodies or other organizations concerned with a particular activity. Employers may decide to apply these ‘model’ assessments at each workplace, but should only do so if they:
Record the findings
It is good practice if organizations make a record of their significant findings – the hazards, how people might be harmed by them and what is in place to control the risks. Any record produced should be clear, practical and focused on control measures.
The paperwork produced as part of the risk assessment is intended to assist organizations to communicate and manage the risks in their business. For most this does not need to be a complex exercise – just note the main points down about the significant risks and what was concluded.More information
In many, but not all instances e.g. for complex processes, when writing down results it can be kept simple, for example ‘fume from welding – local exhaust ventilation used and regularly checked’.
The risk assessment must be appropriate for the activity being assessed, i.e. it shows that the organization:
Where the nature of the work changes fairly frequently or the workplace changes and develops (e.g. a construction site), or where workers move from site to site, the risk assessment may have to concentrate more on a broad range of risks that can be anticipated.
If the risk assessment identifies a number of hazards, they need to be put in order of importance and the most serious risks should be addressed first.
Organizations should identify long-term solutions for the risks with the biggest consequences, as well as those risks most likely to cause accidents or ill health. They should also establish whether there are improvements that can be implemented quickly, even temporarily, until more reliable controls can be put in place.
Remember, the greater the hazard the more robust and reliable the control measures to control the risk of an injury occurring will need to be.
Regularly review the risk assessment
Few workplaces stay the same. Sooner or later, organizations will bring in new equipment, substances and procedures that could lead to new hazards. So it makes sense to review what is being done an ongoing basis, the risk assessment ought to be reviewed and organizations should ask themselves:
Organizations must make sure the risk assessment stays up to date.
Accidents and Investigations
Employers should monitor the effectiveness of the measures they put in place to control the risks in their workplace. As part of the monitoring, they should investigate incidents to ensure that corrective action is taken, learning is shared and any necessary improvements are put in place.
Investigations will help them to:
Reporting incidents (Protocol of 2002 to the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981) should not stop employers from carrying out their own investigation to ensure risks in their workplace are controlled efficiently. An investigation is not an end in itself, but the first step in preventing future adverse events that includes:
Are these matters being reported to the correct authorities in a timely manner and in accordance with national legislation?
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Where employers share workplaces (whether on a temporary or permanent basis), they need to co-operate with each other to comply with their respective health and safety obligations. Many national OSH systems have specific requirements to ensure worker safety on multi-employer worksites.
Each employer needs to take all reasonable steps to co-ordinate the measures they adopt to fulfil those obligations. They also need to tell the other employers about any risks their work activities could present to their employees, both on- and off-site.
These requirements apply to self-employed people where they share a workplace with other employers or where they share a workplace with other self-employed people.
Deciding who can help employers with their duties
Employers should appoint someone competent to help them meet their safety and health duties. A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage safety and health. In many cases, employers will know the risks in their own business best. This will mean that they are the competent person and can carry out the risk assessments themselves.More information
Employers could appoint one or a combination of:
Possible sources of advice include;
Some points organizations should consider if using external help
Workplaces where workers are involved in taking decisions about safety and health are safer and healthier. It is therefore vital that employers consult workers and their representatives (if present) on all matters that affect occupational safety and health.
Collaboration with workers helps employers to manage safety and health in a practical way by:
Employers must consult all their workers, in good time, on safety and health matters. In workplaces where a trade union is recognized, this will be through union safety and health representatives. In non-unionized workplaces, they can consult either directly or through other elected representatives.
Representatives’ main role is to talk to their employer about issues affecting the safety and health of workers they represent in the workplace. Employers should ensure that any representatives receive paid time off during normal working hours so they can carry out their duties. They should also receive suitable training and access to any facilities needed to help them in their role.
Consultation involves employers not only giving information to workers but also listening to them and taking account of what they say before making decisions on safety and health. Employers have to give workers or their representative’s information to allow full and effective participation in consultation.
This should include:
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Providing Training and Information
All workers need to know how to work safely and without risks to health. Employers must provide clear instructions, information and adequate training for their workers. Workers also have responsibilities with regards to safety and health including cooperating with their employers and following the instructions they have received.
Employers must not forget contractors and self-employed people who may be working for them and make sure everyone has information on:
Some workers may have particular training needs, for example:
The employer’s risk assessment should identify any further training needs associated with specific risks. If they have identified danger areas in their workplace, they must ensure that their workers receive adequate instruction and training on precautions they must take before entering these areas.
Employers also need to think about any legal requirements for specific job training. If employers introduce new equipment, technology or changes to working practices/systems, their workers will need to know about any new safety and health implications.
Workers also have responsibilities under international labour standards with regards to safety and health namely to:
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Employers must provide an adequate and appropriate level of supervision for their workers;
Effective supervision can help employers monitor the effectiveness of the training that people have received, and whether workers have the necessary capacity and competence to do the job.
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Employers need to assess their first-aid requirements to help them decide what equipment and facilities they need, and how many first-aid personnel they should provide.
The minimum first-aid provision in any workplace is:
Employers also need to put up notices telling their workers where they can find:
Their assessment may also indicate that they should provide a first-aid room, particularly where their work involves certain hazards, including some of those found in chemical industries and on large construction sites or if required by national legislation.
The self-employed should have equipment to be able to provide first aid to themselves at work. They should make an assessment of the hazards and risks in their workplace and establish an appropriate level of first-aid provision.
If they carry out low-risk activities (e.g. clerical work) in their own home, they may only need to provide first-aid equipment appropriate to their normal domestic needs. If their work involves driving long distances or they are continuously on the road, their assessment may identify the need to keep a personal first-aid kit in their vehicle.
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Employers must provide safety signs if there is a significant risk that can’t be avoided or controlled in any other way, such as through safe systems of work or engineering controls.
There is no need for employers to provide safety signs if they don’t help reduce the risk or if the risk isn’t significant. This applies to all places and activities where people are employed. The installed safety signs must be relevant there is no benefit to installing safety signs detailing equipment that is not required as this tends to mean that workers ignore all the signs and requirements!
Employers should, where necessary:
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Which of the following is a challenge faced by the acceptable risk approach to health and safety?
Which of the following is a challenge faced by the acceptable risk approach to health and safety? It improperly places incentives because the risks faced at work could be controlled by others who might stand to benefit by not reducing them.
How will you ensure safety in the workplace?
10 Easy Workplace Safety Tips.
Train employees well. ... .
Reward employees for safe behavior. ... .
Partner with occupational clinicians. ... .
Use labels and signs. ... .
Keep things clean. ... .
Make sure employees have the right tools and have regular equipment inspections. ... .
Encourage stretch breaks. ... .
Implement safety protocols from the start..
Which of the following is a disadvantage of monitoring?
Which of the following is a disadvantage of monitoring? Monitoring tends to constrain effective performance since it can cause increased stress and pressure.
Which of the following is a true statement regarding the European Union's privacy directive?
Which of the following is true about the European Union's Directive on Personal Data Protection? It prohibits EU firms from transferring personal information to a non-EU country unless that country maintains "adequate protections" of its own.