The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently updated the “Guidelines for Safety and Health Programs” it first released 30 years ago to reflect changes in the economy, workplaces, and evolving safety and health issues.

The new recommended practices have been well received by a wide variety of stakeholders and are designed to be used in a wide variety of small and medium-sized business settings. The recommended practices present a step-by-step approach to implementing a safety and health program, built around seven core elements that make up a successful program.

The main goal of safety and health programs is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths, as well as the suffering and financial hardship these events can cause for workers, their families, and employers.

The recommended practices use a proactive approach to managing workplace safety and health, according to OSHA. Traditional approaches are often reactive – that is, problems are addressed only after a worker is injured or becomes sick, a new standard or regulation is published, or an outside inspection finds a problem that must be fixed. These recommended practices recognize that finding and fixing hazards before they cause injury or illness is a far more effective approach.