OSHA Seeks Public Comments on Updated Program Management Guidelines

The agency says the the updated guidelines should be particularly helpful to small- and medium-sized businesses and address how multiple employers at the same work site can coordinate their efforts to make sure all workers are protected.

OSHA announced it is seeking public comments on an updated version of its voluntary Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines. First published in 1989, they are being updated to reflect modern technology and practices, according to the agency's Nov. 16 announcement, which says the the updated guidelines should be particularly helpful to small- and medium-sized businesses and address how multiple employers at the same work site can coordinate their efforts to make sure all workers are protected.

"The goal of safety and health management is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths,” Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels said. "Employers who embrace these guidelines will experience lower injury and illness rates, and their progress in improving the safety culture at their work sites will contribute to higher productivity, reduced costs, and greater worker satisfaction."

New elements of the guidelines are:

  • a proactive approach to finding and fixing hazards before they cause injury, illness, or death
  • improved safety and health in all types of workplaces
  • help for small and medium-sized businesses to effectively protect their workers
  • increasing worker involvement so all workers have a voice in workplace safety and health
  • better communication and coordination on multi-employer work sites

Comments will be accepted until Feb. 15, 2016, and can be posted at www.regulations.gov by using Docket #OSHA-2015-0018.

ASSE President Michael Belcher issued a statement about the updated guidelines: "ASSE appreciates OSHA's commitment to encouraging better employer management of workplace safety and health risks in the draft update of its Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines. Likewise, ASSE appreciates OSHA's effort to engage stakeholders in the development of final guidelines and looks forward to sharing the views of its members who are the leaders in addressing workplace risks through safety and health management plans. While recognizing that updated guidelines are a step in the right direction, ASSE is disappointed that this Administration has not pursued an OSHA standard that would require all employers to develop and implement such plans. A well-written OSHA standard could help every U.S employer move towards the safety and health management approaches that the best employers already use to protect workers and their profit margins. It could also bring the U.S. closer to more effective workplace safety and health regulatory approaches increasingly being used by our international competitors. We encourage OSHA not to let these guidelines be the agency's last and best effort in moving the nation towards a more effective approach to protecting workers."

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