While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the rate of worker deaths and reported injuries has fallen by more than 60% since the passing of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act in 1970, organizations should be looking for ways to improve safety every day. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) annual Safe + Sound Week is a great way to recognize and promote safety in the workplace and create a stronger internal safety culture.
Each August, OSHA holds a Safe + Sound Week that highlights the successes of health and safety programs within various U.S. workplaces and provides information on how to improve safety. Safe + Sound Week is taking place August 15-21, 2022, and as of the time of this writing, nearly 1,900 participants have signed up so far.
During Safe + Sound Week, organizations can create a health and safety program, promote health and safety through events or recognize the success of an already established program. Companies can sign up to participate in Safe + Sound Week on OSHA’s website.
As the saying goes, “there’s no time like the present.” If you haven’t already started preparing for Safe + Sound Week and you’re planning on participating or starting a health and safety program, we’ve got you covered with what you need to know.
Participating in Safe + Sound Week
Organizations should ensure their workplaces are safe for all employees. And, as OSHA points out, safe workplaces are sound businesses. Safe + Sound Week offers the perfect opportunity to either start a workplace safety program or show ongoing commitment to existing programs.
Here are a few ideas on how to participate in Safe + Sound Week:
1. Create a safety pledge.
In honor of the first Safe + Sound Week that took place in 2017, Sphera published our own safety pledge outlining our commitment to safety in the workplace. OSHA encourages organizations to establish health and safety as a core value and developing a safety pledge is a great way to do that.
To give you an example, here is Sphera’s safety pledge that we put together for the first Safe + Sound Week:
Sphera’s Employer Oath for Workplace Safety
- A company will do everything in its power to keep workers safe and never compromise on safety.
- A company will train and encourage workers to record and report incidents, hazards and near-misses.
- A company will provide workers the necessary tools to record and report incidents, hazards and near-misses easily.
- A company will use the data at its disposal to help mitigate risks.
- A company will remind its workers that there is always time to do it right. When in doubt, stop and ask someone with the right knowledge and expertise before proceeding.
2. Develop a health and safety program.
According to Sphera’s 2021 Safety Report, 40% of companies have a well-defined roadmap to improve safety performance. Health and safety programs are essential to preventing injuries and improving operations in the long term.
If you don’t already have a health and safety program in place, now is the time to start one. OSHA recommends that all health and safety programs have the support of management and leadership, a systematic way to find and fix hazards, as well as participation from employees. OSHA has some great resources on how to start a health and safety program.
Another key part of ensuring safety in the workplace is focusing on compliance and promoting functional safety. In our Top 10 Operational Risks for 2022 article that published earlier this year, Sphera experts identified regulatory change, compliance gaps and functional safety audits as some of the areas of operational risk to focus on this year. These risks will be helpful to keep in mind as you think about your health and safety program.
3. Plan activities.
OSHA recommends that organizations plan specific activities for your employees and community to participate in during Safe + Sound Week. For example, during the 2018 Safe + Sound Week, Sphera employees participated in a safety scavenger hunt and other activities focused on spotting risks in the workplace. Every organization is different, so be sure to plan your activities around your organization’s needs. OSHA also provides example activities if you’re looking for inspiration.
4. Recognize participation.
Plan to recognize your organization’s participation in Safe + Sound Week after its conclusion. This includes highlighting employee contributions and your organization’s health and safety achievements. OSHA also offers a certificate you can download and a virtual challenge coin that recognizes your organization. Companies can also use the hashtag #safeandsoundatwork to promote their participation on social media.
Promoting Workplace Safety Long Term
While the “E” in ESG (environmental, social and governance) has been top of mind considering recent regulatory developments from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), climate reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the release of the draft European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) under the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), it’s important to not lose sight of the importance of governance. Promoting safety in the workplace is critical to a good governance program.
It’s essential that companies invest in the right programs, solutions and expertise to ensure greater safety in the workplace. After all, safety should be a priority every week of the year, not just during Safe + Sound Week.