Occupational Health and Safety Cartoon
Occupational Health and Safety Management (OH&S) is primarily concerned with protecting the safety, health and welfare of people engaged in work of any kind. The goal of all occupational safety and health programs therefore is to foster a safe work environment.
In practical terms this usually means providing safe premises, safe machinery and materials, safe systems of work, information, instruction, training and supervision which help to enhance safety and finally bringing about a suitable physical working environment and facilities. These goals are often written into national legislation for any given workplace but they are often best brought about in practical day-to-day terms by a focused approach to managing occupational health and safety in the most proactive way possible (and not being simply reactive whenever an accident or near-miss occurs).
A large part of the process of managing OH&S (at least in the initial stages) is in carrying out a well-structured hazard identification process followed by thorough risk assessment. This can then provide the basis for risk management, which includes risk elimination (where possible) or mitigation.
It is important to remember that the identification of hazards and the assessment of risk, in general, have two major aspects to performing the task. The first aspect is the appraisal of physical conditions in which people work and the second is an appraisal of the way in which people behave or act when working. The latter is likely to provide many more potential hazards and risks than the former.