A Safer Workplace Is Everybody’s Job
Accountability for injury and incident prevention can vary significantly from organization to organization. Who is ultimately responsible in your company? Does everyone understand his or her role and responsibilities?
In a safer workplace, management responsibilities include:
- Providing a workplace free from recognized hazards
- Evaluating workplace conditions, and controlling or eliminating potential hazards
- Complying with all OSHA standards
- Providing employees safe, properly maintained tools and equipment (including PPE), and ensuring they use it
- Maintaining appropriate records of illnesses, injuries, and fatalities
But a safer workplace requires more than that. It requires management commitment—to responsibilities and to employees.
These are some examples of the management commitment necessary for the success of a safety program:
- Visible involvement in program from top management (provide overall leadership)
- Resources—time, money, and clout
- Clear program goals and objectives set by management and communicated to all employees
- A safety and health policy statement
- Assignment of safety and health responsibilities and authority to responsible personnel such as supervisors
- Accountability on the part of managers, supervisors, and employees for meeting their safety responsibilities
Management sometimes takes the view that safety is mainly their responsibility and employees can do little to help create a safer workplace besides just following safety rules.
Employees often take the view that safety is management’s responsibility, not theirs, and all they have to do is follow the rules.
In both cases, nothing could be further from the truth. Without employee involvement and cooperation, management alone can’t successfully ensure workplace safety and protect employees.
OSHA recognizes this fact and has assigned basic safety responsibilities to employee including:
- Follow your safety and health rules
- Wear and use all required PPE correctly
- Follow safe work practices
- Report hazardous conditions to a supervisor
Beyond meeting their non-negotiable responsibilities, employees can also demonstrate involvement by taking an active role in safety. They can do this via participation in:
- Workplace inspections such as incident/injury investigations or near-miss/near-hit investigations
- Hazard recognition and reporting
- Development of safe work rules
- Training of coworkers and new hires
- Safety committee membership
Management commitment and employee involvement complement one another.
- Management provides the motivating force and resources for the safety and health program.
- Employee involvement provides workers opportunities to develop and express their own commitment to and ownership of the safety and health program.