Lesson 1: Using Vision and Management Skills
The leader must have a vision of wellness for the organization ’ s workers. This vision has to be articulated to workers so often that it becomes an accepted norm of the culture of the business. To assist workplaces in improving safety and health leadership, OSHA has developed the Safety and Health Program Management module, which addresses the following management actions required to achieve this goal (OSHA, 2009b):
- Establishing a safety and health policy
- Establishing goals and objectives
- Providing visible top management leadership and involvement
- Ensuring employee involvement
- Ensuring assignment of responsibility
- Providing adequate authority and responsibility
- Ensuring accountability for management, supervisors, and rank-and-file employees
- Providing a program evaluation
If these actions are carried out, the chances of producing an excellent workplace safety and health program increase dramatically. The two key components of the process are assigning ownership and developing an evaluation process. Both of these components involve managers and workers. The way the program is evaluated is especially critical. The organization must develop an evaluation process that includes the measurement of goals, objectives, and the various program elements.
Completing this list of actions will go a long way toward improving the health and safety of employees, which in turn will reduce health and disability costs while also improving worker productivity. Many of these components can be catalysts for a long healthy life and the prevention of premature death. The leader has to be aware of how the workplace can influence workers ’ health and the quality of life for workers and their families. Because of these high stakes the leader needs to pay a great deal of attention to possible injuries and illnesses among his or her followers during and even after their working years. The diseases or injuries produced in the workplace are taken with the worker into retirement.
The health of workers is definitely affected in many ways during their time in the workplace. Although the workplace can be dangerous, it can also be a source of opportunity for wellness if visionary leadership is present. A workplace focused on wellness can move people from potential poor health to high – level wellness through positive actions that reduce and prevent injuries and chronic diseases and their complications during the working years. The improvement of the process of work to reduce or eliminate workplace injuries and illnesses requires the emergence of leadership committed to protecting the workplace.
OSHA has instituted the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) to increase worker protection, cut business costs, and improve employee productivity and morale. According to OSHA (2004b), this program was developed to benefit workers and management by offering each side incentives to keep workers safe and healthy. OSHA points out that this program has had tremendous success, reporting that for every $ 1 saved on medical or insurance costs (direct costs), an additional $ 5 to $ 50 more is saved on indirect costs, such as repair to equipment or materials, training of new
workers, or losses due to production delays. This is why innovative safety and health programs have to be developed, implemented, and evaluated. Then a set of best practices for workplace health and safety can be shared with all businesses in America, allowing all employees and employers to share in the successful ventures. Once real value, in terms of cost savings, can be proven, it will become much easier to sell the prevention concept to all employers. This is why leadership in occupational safety and health is such an important topic for all businesses.