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Your Guide to Building an Effective OHS Program

OHS Program

Taking a proactive approach with an OHS program is crucial to the prevention of incidents in your facility. Not sure where to begin? By following OSHA recommended safety practices it’s easy to break down the process into manageable stages.

Keep reading to discover 4 steps to planning and implementing your introductory OHS program.

Identify Potential Hazards in Your Facility

The first step in creating any occupational health and program is to inspect your workplace for health and safety hazards, and identify the related risks. Get people involved in your regular inspections of all operations, equipment, plant vehicles, and work areas. More buy-in from your team now results in more effective processes later on.

Always remember to document these inspections to later verify corrective actions. If company policy allows, take pictures and videos. A picture is worth a thousand words!

In addition to the inspections above, you should also conduct and document incident investigations. This includes close calls and near misses, such as instances in which someone could have fallen ill or sustained injury. Treat these incidents seriously to determine and correct for their root causes. Remember, operator error is never a root cause.

Lastly, identify any foreseeable emergency scenarios in routine and non-routine tasks. Consider your operation’s context including activities in the neighborhood of your facility. For example, you might be baking cookies with relatively low danger, but your neighbors might be making ammonium nitrate fertilizer that could cause an explosion that could affect you!

Evaluate Risk

After a thorough investigation of your facility, it’s time to evaluate each hazard’s risk. Take into account levels of severity, the likelihood of occurrence, and the number of potentially exposed people.

As you move to take corrective action, work on your highest risk hazards first. If you can’t immediately identify a permanent solution for each, you’ll need to use interim controls.

Select and Implement Controls

Now that you’ve identified your hazards and their risks, you want to control them. So, what are your options? Several resources are available to you, such as:

  • OSHA compliance standards and guidance
  • Industry consensus standards, manufacturers’ literature, and engineering reports
  • Control measures used in other workplaces
  • Input from your workers
  • For complex hazards, consult with safety and health experts

Always pick controls that are the most feasible, effective, and permanent. Discuss potential solutions with your workers to make sure they’ll function in your operation. Successful controls never make an employee’s job harder. Remember when implementing protective measures to follow the hierarchy of controls: Elimination, Substitution, Engineering Controls, Administrative Controls, then PPE only as a last resort.

Again, it’s essential to immediately eliminate or control all hazards causing or likely to cause death or severe harm. Ensure that new controls do not introduce new hazards into your facility.


Complete your OHS program by verifying your work. Have you truly minimized risk in your facility? Carefully test each safety control measure put in place. Have your workers join in on all parts of your internal audit to reach a safe consensus. You may need to rethink your corrective actions, introduce more OSHA compliance training and supervision, or include a new series of procedures.

For more information, please see OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs web page at If you would like assistance in implementing your program, including evaluating your compliance status, please contact Intertek Alchemy!

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