While the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) is commending OSHA for its efforts to update the agency's 1989 Guidelines for Safety and Health Management Programs, its Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs (RPSHP) fail to stress the importance of using safety and health professionals to manage the programs.

"The best-performing companies employ occupational safety and health professionals to implement and manage safety and health programs throughout the U.S. and across the globe,” said ASSE President Thomas Cecich, CSP, CIH. Cecich said the Recommended Practices can encourage more employers to apply the risk management principles inherent in safety and health management programs succeed in helping make workplaces safe and productive in companies of all sizes.

“To identify workplace risks and establish a plan to address those risks, larger companies rely on safety and health professionals to utilize systematic approaches offered in widely accepted voluntary consensus standards like ANSI/ASSE Z10 and ISO 45001, which is currently in the final stages of development,” said Cecich. “ASSE has developed resources to help occupational safety and health professionals to master and keep up their skills and knowledge to implement effective safety and health management systems.

“The Recommended Practices are a resource that gives small and medium employers the opportunity to establish a program in much the same way as large companies who have the benefit of a safety and health professional. ASSE is concerned, however, that the Recommended Practices do not sufficiently stress to employers that the effective management of many complex, difficult risks require professional skills and knowledge. Like first-aid manuals that tell when medical personnel should be called, a tool that encourages untrained people to practice facets of safety should also clearly address when professional help is required.”

Nonetheless, Cecich said his organization looks forward to working with OSHA to help disseminate the new Recommended Practices and to develop resources that can help employers implement “appropriate and effective safety and health management programs for the unique risks each workplace faces."