The goal of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is to promote the health and safety of the American workforce. Some of the ways OSHA accomplishes that is by setting safety standards, providing educational resources, and encouraging businesses to improve workplace safety. One prime example: OSHA’s Safe + Sound campaign – a year-long program that raises awareness of the importance of occupational health and safety.
The main event of the campaign is OSHA's Safe + Sound Week, taking place August 10-16, 2020. It’s not too late to learn more – and to find ways for your organization to get involved, whether it’s in the weekly or year-long efforts.
What Is Safe + Sound Week?
Safe + Sound Week is meant to raise awareness of occupational safety and promote management and worker participation in workplace health and safety programs. Another key goal is identifying and fixing workplace hazards. Safe + Sound Week particularly emphasizes the importance of establishing health and safety programs for small and mid-sized businesses. Because small businesses often have limited resources, health and safety programs can be a struggle point. However, successful safety and health programs can identify and eliminate workplace hazards before an accident occurs, improving sustainability and worker retention while reducing business liability.
The Importance of Workplace Health and Safety Programs
As businesses try to maintain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, workplace health and safety has never been more important. A comprehensive, robust safety program not only protects workers from injury, but it can also increase productivity, boost employee morale and reduce turnover.
Finding and fixing hazards is at the core of every effective health and safety program. This year, OSHA is promoting the ongoing process of better identifying and controlling the sources of potential hazards by suggesting that employers:
- Conduct Analysis to Identify Hazards: As workplaces constantly evolve, it’s critical to remain aware when it comes to new hazards. OSHA recommends conducting a job hazard analysis to identify a work activity or process that could lead to a health or safety hazard. Reviewing injuries that are common to your specific industry is also advised as this research could help your organization develop new controls to mitigate hazard interaction.
Spotlighting Hazards and Controls: Utilize all available resources to inform employees about safety hazards they may face while on the job. This can be done through training and via email or video blasts that clearly highlight the different types of hazards and the appropriate controls in place to avoid them. Posting highly visible safety labels and signs is an effective way to alert people of hazards, remind of them of PPE requirements and reinforce company policies.
OSHA’s initiatives, and employers’ responses, are creating positive change in workplace safety. For example, statistics show that worker deaths have dropped dramatically in the past few decades, from about 38 workers per day in 1970 to 14 a day in 2017. Additionally, worker injuries have fallen from 11 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to 3 per 100 workers in 2017.
Getting Involved in Safe + Sound Week
OSHA’s Safe + Sound campaign recognizes the successes of workplace safety programs and offers information on how you can improve or establish a program at your workplace. Organizations of any industry or size are encouraged to participate to promote safety. Participating in the event can help your business reenergize an existing health and safety program or start a new one. In 2019, more than 3,300 businesses participated.
Some companies choose to co-sponsor training and events with other local businesses to share expenses and build partnerships. While OSHA provides activity ideas and recommendations, you can celebrate Safe + Sound Week in a way that’s most meaningful to your workplace. Here are a few ways other companies participate and engage their workers:
- Solicit information from employees on why safety is important to them.
- Recognize employees with the best safety records.
- Encourage leadership to share a message with employees regarding why they think safety is fundamental to success.
- Display safety graphics in workplace gathering places.
- Conduct health and safety training.
- Organize an employee volunteer event.
To participate and see OSHA’s resources (activities, plans, events and graphics), you can sign up on OSHA’s Safe + Sound website. After the event, you’ll also be able to download a certificate to display in recognition of your safety week activities and achievements.
Wider Opportunities in the Year-long Safe + Sound Campaign
Besides participating in Safe + Sound Week, there are other ways you can get involved in the cause and engage with OSHA:
- Volunteer to help other small businesses establish a health and safety plan. You can use your company’s existing plan as a reference or use the sample plans from OSHA as inspiration.
- Continually update, revise and energize your company’s occupational health and safety management system throughout the year.
- Sign up to receive email updates from OSHA. The agency regularly sends out safety updates and resources for hosting events.
- Participate in OSHA’s quarterly health and safety webinars and challenges.
- Check OSHA’s website regularly throughout the year for updates and new events.
The Big Picture for Advancing Safety
Safety initiatives like Safe + Sound Week are instrumental in encouraging workplaces to develop new, and evaluate existing, health and safety programs. They remind companies that systems that prioritize employee safety — including those related to visual safety communication — are worth investing in. After all, effective health and safety programs help identify and manage workplace hazards, improve employee morale and reduce the risk of workplace injury. Reach out to the Clarion Safety team to learn how we can support your efforts to advance safety on your equipment or at your workplace.