Effective Management of Health and Safety Programs: A Practical Guide, 3rd edition. Moser R Jr., ed., Berverly Farms, MA: OEM Press, 2008 Mar; :57-63
One outcome of planning is the delineation of several organizational goals. Although goals may steer an activity in a particular direction, they are typically stated in very general terms. For example, some health and safety goals have included "improve the quality of health care provided to workers (underserved groups, or some other population)," "reduce the numbers of injuries and illnesses in the work force," or "improve the rates of use of passive restraints in vehicles in the community." Such vagueness can make it difficult to determine whether progress in accomplishing a goal is actually being made. How should quality be defined? Reducing injuries and illnesses appears straightforward, but does the effort translate into the actual number of injuries, severity of injuries, lost days, or some other aspect? "Increase the rates of use of passive restraints" may apply to drivers, to passengers, or to both. Does the goal apply to use of car seats for children? What percentage increase and in what age group is it desired? Another problem in attempting to use only goals to direct organizational efforts is that it is difficult to establish priorities among the competing goals. If planning is properly done, all the goals are relevant to the mission of the health and safety unit and, hopefully, to that of the organization or other population the unit supports. However, it is unusual to have all the personnel, financial, equipment, and other resources needed to accomplish all goals simultaneously. As a result, the manager typically has to emphasize some goals and relegate others to a lower priority. It is difficult to establish priorities for the competing goals unless the manager has some information on approximate resource costs, including time, money, equipment, and personnel, to meet the different goals. Managers can use a number of techniques to assign priorities to goals and also to measure progress in achieving goals. One approach that many have found useful is the Management by Objectives process. Peter Drucker created the concept of Management by Objectives (MBO) to help overcome the problems of working from goal statements . (In today's management settings, MBO may also stand for Management Buy Out [2,3], so it is important to ensure that the proper meaning be used in discussions or plans.) Other, similar processes such as Project Management  can be just as effective, depending on the preferences of the manager.