Management Leadership

Management provides the leadership, vision, and resources needed to implement an effective safety and health program. Management leadership means that business owners, managers, and supervisors:

  • Make worker safety and health a core organizational value.
  • Are fully committed to eliminating hazards, protecting workers, and continuously improving workplace safety and health.
  • Provide sufficient resources to implement and maintain the safety and health program.
  • Visibly demonstrate and communicate their safety and health commitment to workers and others.
  • Set an example through their own actions.

Action item 1: Communicate your commitment to a safety and health program

Action item 2: Define program goals

Action item 3: Allocate resources

Action item 4: Expect performance

Action item 1: Communicate your commitment to a safety and health program

A clear, written policy helps you communicate that safety and health is a primary organizational value –as important as productivity, profitability, product or service quality, and customer satisfaction.

How to accomplish it

Establish a written policy signed by top management describing the organization's commitment to safety and health and pledging to establish and maintain a safety and health program for all workers.

  • Communicate the policy to all workers and, at appropriate times and places, to relevant parties, including:
    • Contractors, subcontractors, staffing agencies, and temporary workers at your worksite(s)
    • Suppliers and vendors
    • Other businesses in a multi-tenant building
    • Visitors
    • Customers
  • Reinforce management commitment by considering safety and health in all business decisions, including contractor and vendor selection, purchasing, and facility design and modification.
  • Be visible in operations and set an example by following the same safety procedures you expect workers to follow. Begin work meetings with a discussion or review of safety and health indicators and any outstanding safety items on a "to do" list.
Action item 2: Define program goals

By establishing specific goals and objectives, management sets expectations for managers, supervisors, and workers and for the program overall. The goals and objectives should focus on specific actions that will improve workplace safety and health.

How to accomplish it
  • Establish realistic, measurable goals for improving safety and health. Goals emphasizing injury and illness prevention should be included rather than focusing on injury and illness rates.
  • Develop plans to achieve the goals by assigning tasks and responsibilities to particular people, setting timeframes, and determining resource needs.
Action item 3: Allocate resources

Management provides the resources needed to implement the safety and health program, pursue program goals, and address program shortcomings when they are identified.

How to accomplish it
  • Estimate the resources needed to establish and implement the program.
  • Allow time in workers' schedules for them to fully participate in the program.
  • Integrate safety and health into planning and budgeting processes and align budgets with program needs.
  • Provide and direct resources to operate and maintain the program, meet safety and health commitments, and pursue program goals.

Note: Resource needs will vary depending on your organization's size, complexity, hazard types, and program maturity and development. Resource needs may include: capital equipment and supplies; staff time; training; access to information and tools (e.g., vendor information, Safety Data Sheets, injury/illness data, checklists, online databases); and access to safety and health experts, including OSHA's free and confidential On-site Consultation Program.

Action item 4: Expect performance

Management leads the program effort by establishing roles and responsibilities and providing an open, positive environment that encourages communication about safety and health.

How to accomplish it
  • Identify a front line person or persons to lead the safety program effort, make plans, coordinate activities, and track progress. Define and regularly communicate responsibilities and authorities for implementing and maintaining the program and hold people accountable for performance.
  • Provide positive recognition for meeting or exceeding safety and health goals aimed at preventing injury and illness (e.g., reporting close calls/near misses, attending training, conducting inspections).
  • Establish ways for management and all workers to communicate freely and often about safety and health issues without fear of retaliation.

Note: Maintaining a positive and encouraging tone is important. Successful programs reward, rather than discipline, workers who identify problems or concerns, much like successful quality programs. Disciplinary measures should be reserved for situations in which an individual manager or worker is uncooperative or becomes an impediment to progress.