Thought Leadership

What are your safety and health principles?

April 11, 2012

I have been spending time reviewing the draft of a new ISO document – Guide 82 – Guide for addressing sustainability in standards. (For standards geeks, this document was recently circulated as Committee Draft 2 and is intended to be a guidance document for ISO standards writers.

In reviewing this document, I noted that one of the intents of this document is to list general principles of sustainability. To accomplish this goal, the document lists principles associated with several topics from environmental labeling and sustainable buildings to risk management and social responsibility.

In reviewing these lists of principles for other areas, I realized that I was not aware of a comparable list of worker health and safety principles. As I discussed this with other OH&S professionals, they were not aware of any generally-recognized list of worker health and safety principles, either.

I thought about it and came up with the following list of seven principles (modeled after the list of Quality Principles set out in ISO 9000.

Worker Health and Safety Principles

1 Health and Safety Focus

Worker health and well-being is an important organizational resource to be protected through the prevention of injury and ill health.

2 Leadership Commitment

Top management needs to provide the leadership and resources necessary for effective management of OH&S issues.

3 Worker Engagement

Workers need to have the information, opportunities and accountability necessary for them to actively participate in ensuring their own safety.

4 Factual Approach to Decision-making

Decisions and actions related to evaluating and controlling OH&S risks should, to the extent feasible, be based on the analysis of factual information.

5 Prioritization of Controls

Hazards should be controlled using process, equipment and facility controls before administrative controls and personal protective equipment are utilized.

6 Prevention instead of Reaction

Establishing systematic processes to identify and address OH&S risks is more effective than waiting until after an incident has occurred to react.

7 Supply Chain Accountability

Organizations need to act ethically when transferring OH&S risks to others in their supply chain.

What do you think?

Let me know by posting a comment to this blog or send me an email at



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