Safety Articles

OSHA’s Initiative On Employer Injury and Illness Prevention Programs

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) doesn’t kill jobs; it helps prevent jobs from killing workers. 

Supported by decades of empirical evidence, this message has been confirmed by a peer-reviewed study published in Science, one of the world’s top scientific journals, but we will also discuss it here.

Training and Programs One of OSHA’s main initiatives is to educate United States employers about moving beyond reactive compliance to embracing a proactive culture of safety. Many workplaces already have injury and illness prevention programs.

These programs are common-sense tools that give employers a process to find and fix hazards in the workplace before someone gets hurt. These programs are not new: 34 states and many nations already have requirements or voluntary guidelines for workplace injury and illness prevention programs. Numerous employers in the United States already manage safety using injury and illness prevention programs. Every participant in Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) and Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Programs (SHARP) use them with great results. OSHA emphasizes that all employers can and should do the same.

Most successful injury and illness prevention programs are based on a common set of key elements. These elements include:

  1. Management leadership,
  2. Worker participation,
  3. Hazard identification,
  4. Hazard prevention and control,
  5. Education and training, and
  6. Program evaluation and improvement.

Successful injury and illness prevention programs include these six core elements, which focus on finding hazards in the workplace and developing a plan to prevent and control those hazards. Management leadership and active worker participation are essential to ensuring that hazards are identified and addressed. Employees need to be trained about how the program works, and, finally, the employer needs to evaluate the program periodically to determine whether improvements need to be made.

Common Hazards
The hazards commonly identified during OSHA workplace accident investigations include: falls, struck-by, caught-in-between, and electrocution. Employers should develop injury and illness prevention programs that encourage worker participation in identifying these and other hazards in their workplaces. Employers should also offer workers recognition for their efforts to prevent the possible injuries that could result from those hazards.

Proven benefits of having these programs include but are not limited to:

  • Transforming the workplace safety and health culture,
  • Reducing worker injuries, illnesses, and deaths,
  • Lower workers’ compensation and other costs,
  • Improving morale and communication,
  • Enhancing image and reputation, and
  • Improving processes, products, and services.

The basic idea behind these programs is to continuously improve the workplace safety and health culture. It involves developing a process to figure out where the hazards are and fix them. 

This OSHA initiative involves outreach and education on the benefits of these programs, as well as employers developing, initiating, and evaluating the effectiveness of their own workplace safety and health rulemaking. OSHA is asking that employers follow the examples of those employers who have already implemented these beneficial programs and join “the rest of the best” to help prevent workplace accidents and injuries.

About the Author
Elias Vela is the OSHA Compliance Assistance Specialist at the Dallas Area Office and has more than 16 years of experience working within OSHA. Vela has conducted safety and health inspections in the construction, oil and gas production, and general industries. For more information, contact: OSHA,

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