Occupational health & safety management systems (OHSMS) are becoming the method of choice for "high-performance" organizations looking for excellence in their safety and health process. This article is focused on the management aspect of these systems and the overall continuous improvement process.
There are numerous guidelines and voluntary standards for management systems dealing with safety and health. Implementation of management systems, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), have routinely demonstrated that they can reduce occupational injuries and illnesses and their associated costs by one half. There are currently 1,256 VPP worksites according to OSHA's Web site.
In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports approximately 6,000 occupational deaths and another 6 million injuries and illness annually resulting in nearly 2.8 million lost workdays. The Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index estimated that occupational accidents in the United States cost employers $49.6 billion in 2002. These concerns extend beyond the United States. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates there are 1.2 million occupational deaths resulting from 250 million accidents and 160 million illnesses worldwide each year.
Realizing these numbers and costs, more employers are implementing health and safety management systems as a method to continuously improve their safety and health performance as well as …