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The 10 Pillars of a Health and Safety Program


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The challenges inherent in managing health and safety within an organization are numerous, but an effective EH&S program will reduce injuries, incidents and can improve the quality of products that are shipped.

For a health and safety program to be effective, it needs to address the challenges that threaten failure. It should be planned, include goals and be based on the on-going measurement of metrics that define success.

We believe there are 10 pillars every health and safety program should adhere to, and in this post we’re going to summarize them in bite-sized form.

1. The vision

The vision for the safety of your organization is an idea around which a program can be structured.  Your vision may be to ensure that nobody gets hurt or to foster an environment in which tasks are only ever undertaken in a safe manner. Whatever it is, the vision should be the basis for all goals and objectives within your health and safety program.

2. Your goals

Goals are tangible milestones that will help you fulfil the organization’s vision for safety. While the vision is common, health and safety goals can vary between department, but may include the completion of job hazard analyses, safety training implementation or annual personnel monitoring.

3. The legal stuff

Governing bodies impose legal health and safety requirements which may be unique to the geographic boundary within which your organization operates. Therefore, a solid working knowledge of the legalities and regulations for health and safety in your location is essential.

4. Gaps

No health and safety program is perfect, which is why it is essential you regularly review yours in order to identify strengths, weaknesses and gaps in compliance and knowledge. This can be done through surveys, job safety analyses and compliance audits.

5. Metrics

How well is your health and safety program performing? Measuring your success is vital and, given that you will have outlined your vision and set some goals, you’ll begin building datasets and statistics from which you can draw key metrics.

6. The culture

The culture of an organization has a direct impact on the health and safety program. This is why it is essential to create a culture that has health and safety at its core. In order to achieve buy-in across the board, the EH&S program must have the full support of top management and encourage the rotation of roles and responsibilities in order to allow team members to develop their own safety skills.

7. Training

Adherence to safety regulations by all employees will only come as the result of ongoing health and safety training. That means staff should be given every opportunity to increase their knowledge in risk assessment and hazard identification.

8. The EH&S system

In order to achieve the legal requirements, enterprise standards and to document any training plans, the introduction of a health and safety management system is essential. The right system will help progress a basic health and safety program to one that achieves ‘best-in-universe’ performance.

9. Continual improvement

There’s always room for improvement within any health and safety strategy. This is where the audit program comes in and should be conducted every 1 to 3 years (depending on the maturity of the program) to measure the effectiveness of the health and safety management system. In addition, compliance audits focus on adherence to health and safety standards, thus helping reduce incidents and injuries.

10. The standard

Setting up a health and safety program isn’t easy which is why global standards are available to help assist organizations with this task. The upcoming ISO 45001 standard (publication is foreseen for November 2017) is probably the most appropriate for health and safety. It strikes the balance between aiding an organization’s ability to identify and control risks while assisting with legal compliance and improving the overall performance of the program.


Setting up, implementing and continually improving a health and safety program, while challenging, shouldn’t be seen as an obstacle to creating a safer working environment. Adhere to the 10 pillars above, and you’ll create a program that will serve your organization and its staff well for years to come.

Find out more in our Managing Safety For Global Business White Paper.

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