OSHA's Safe + Sound Week
This article is about participation in OSHA’s Safe + Sound Week, which takes place August 15-21, 2022. The guidance can be applied to other awareness events too. It also talks about safety and health programming and why, at the center of every effective program, is a systematic process for identifying and controlling workplace hazards.
We’re approaching another Safe + Sound Week, a nationwide event held each August that recognizes the successes of workplace health and safety programs and offers information and ideas on how to keep America's workers safe.
There are several reasons why you should support the campaign, beyond the obvious one that we all want to remain Safe + Sound. Below are our favorite four that are also valid for other such awareness events if they are sponsored and supported by the right stakeholders.
- In the case of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), we are dealing with the organization that makes sure of safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance. So, we’re in safe hands, literally.
Why take part?
- Be Safe + Sound
- Scrutinize your safety systems and best practices
- Meet like-minded businesses
- Raise the profile of your company
Let’s look at each of them in a little more detail:
1. Be Safe + Sound
Safe + Sound is a year-round campaign to encourage every workplace to have a safety and health program. Successful safety and health programs can proactively identify and manage workplace hazards before they cause injury or illness, improving sustainability and the bottom line. Safe + Sound gives companies an opportunity to freshen up their safety messages. When workers get tired of seeing and hearing the same announcements, they might become complacent, but new graphics, logos, and messaging can reinvigorate an entire workplace.
2. Scrutinize your safety systems and best practices
Participating in Safe + Sound Week can help get your new safety program started, energize an existing one, or provide a chance to recognize your safety successes. Sometimes it takes the focus of an awareness day, week, or event, to really prioritize safety and make a review of current standards happen. After all, in any business, it’s easy to overlook the things that we think are small hazards that can wait to be fixed for another day. That’s (not) ok, until it causes an accident, near-miss, and / or grows into a significant, reoccurring problem.
At the center of every effective safety program, is a systematic process for identifying and controlling workplace hazards, OSHA says.
3. Meet like-minded businesses
All organizations looking for an opportunity to recognize their commitment to safety are welcome to participate. Last year, more than 5,300 businesses helped to raise awareness about workers' health and safety. Safe + Sound Week encourages companies to identify activities and events to plan and promote for a workplace or community. It’s a great way to meet companies and their individuals that might be facing similar challenges and opportunities—around safety and other issues.
This can be especially useful is a business has relocated to a new area or entered a new marketplace. For start-ups, it can be a fast-track into networking groups and local communities.
4. Raise the profile of your company
As above, successful safety and health programs can improve sustainability and the bottom line. OSHA encourages people to share their activities throughout the week, which gives them a chance to market themselves, albeit in an authentic way that puts safety—not the brand—first. After you've completed your events, you can download a certificate and virtual challenge coin to recognize your organization, for example.
It’s a good idea to talk about what Safe + Sound Week teaches you about the place where you work; this will help others in similar positions, and it might be that further avenues of mutual opportunity can be explored in future.
Safety and health programs
Did you know that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of worker deaths and reported injuries in the United States has decreased by more than 60% in the past four decades since the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act was passed? However, every year, more than 5,000 workers are killed on the job (a rate of 14 per day), and more than 3.6 million suffer a serious job-related injury or illness.
These injuries or illnesses don't just hurt workers and their families but can harm business in a variety of ways. Implementing a safety and health program can improve small- and medium-sized businesses' safety and health performance, save money, and improve competitiveness.
OSHA points to six ways that this happens:
- Prevent workplace injuries and illnesses
- Improve compliance with laws and regulations
- Reduce costs, including significant reductions in workers' compensation premiums
- Engage workers
- Enhance social responsibility goals
- Increase productivity and enhance overall business operations
Leading the way
As OSHA says, there must be a commitment from the top to implementing a program and using it to drive continuous improvement in safety and health. When management leadership is sincere and is supported by actions, workers know that safety and health are important to business success. This means that the steps they take to improve safety and health will be valued. Management can demonstrate its commitment by providing the resources needed to implement and operate the program, and recognizing or rewarding safety and health contributions, for example.
Workers often know the most about potential hazards associated with their jobs. When they are involved in finding solutions, they feel invested in the program, OSHA says. To maximize participation, workers must feel free of any fear of retaliation or discrimination, for example, for reporting an injury or hazardous conditions. We’ve seen workers participate by reporting incidents, including near misses; defining and documenting safe work practices; training current co-workers; and more.
Workers often know the most about potential hazards associated with their jobs.
Finding and fixing hazards: a proactive approach
OSHA talks about ways to find and fix hazards. At the center of every effective safety and health program is a systematic process for identifying and controlling workplace hazards. Traditional approaches can be too reactive; actions are taken only after a worker is injured or becomes sick, a new standard or regulation is published, or an outside inspection finds a problem that must be fixed. Finding and fixing hazards is proactive. It’s about ‘before’ not ‘after’.
Workplaces are always evolving as new technologies, processes, materials, and workers are introduced but it is still possible to stay on top of emerging hazards that could lead to injury or illness. OSHA reiterates the importance of involving workers (who, remember, often have the best understanding) in conducting inspections, investigating incidents, and checking that existing controls are intact and remain effective.
It’s always worth circling back to OSHA’s central mission. With the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance. OSHA is part of the United States Department of Labor. The administrator for OSHA is the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. OSHA's administrator answers to the Secretary of Labor, who is a member of the cabinet of the President of the United States.