Designing a Company’s Health and Safety Program
One of the fundamental obligations of the employers is to provide employees with a workplace free from health and safety risks. Employees are also obliged to participate actively in ensuring that their safety and health is well taken care of. As Maine (2000) was able to prove, employees have the experience and knowledge for performing their duties as well as what could impair their ability to do their work effectively. Organizations where employees actively participate or contribute to health and safety awareness program have a lower rate of accidents and occupational hazards. It is the role of the organizational management and in particular the Human Resource manager to constantly instruct, inform, train, and consult employees on their health and safety. For this reason, it is paramount to have in place a powerful health and safety program with the objectives of providing employees with the necessary knowledge and skills to perform their duties safely. This essay provides a detailed employee involvement in safety and health training program. The program comprises among other things the communication plan, employee orientation and training plan, and the evaluation plan.
Establishing and communicating clear goals for what the management expects from employees regarding health and safety is important so that everyone understands the desired results. There must be a favorable environment that supports open communication. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (2013) recommends that all stakeholders must be willing to give and receive feedback. While the managers should create an enabling environment for listening and sharing information, employees should not fear approaching managers with suggestions or information for improving health and safety in the workplace. The information needs to be concise and clear to address the safety and health needs. Managers also have the responsibility of explaining to the employees why the safety and health rules were set even if the reasons may seem obvious to them. It is also crucial for managers to give a positive feedback such as thanking the employees for maintaining safe work practices.
To verify employees understanding of the health and safety policy, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (2013) recommends that managers should conduct assessments. The assessment includes interviews and questionnaires to determine whether employees understand the importance of having in place a powerful health and safety program. The assessment also checks whether employees participate in making decisions which have an impact on their health and safety. To maintain proper communication, it is paramount for the Human Resource department to assign specific people with the responsibility of regularly updating employees on issues about health and safety. The assigned parties must be given resources and the authority to perform their duties effectively. Some of the platforms where organizations can provide updates include an individual email address for employees, internal memo, and during staff meetings. Further, it is the role of HR manager to hold accountable the supervisors and other parties assigned with the responsibility of communicating health and safety updates to ensure that the program is well understood across the entire organization.
Employee Orientation and Training Plan
An orientation plan needs to be available to every new employee including the interns or volunteers whether at the employee, supervisor, or managerial level. According to Taylor (2005), new employees need to be furnished with timely information and the contents of the safety and health policy. For this reason, departmental managers must be conversant with the organizational health and safety policy to ensure that the decisions they make are in line with the program. Understanding the health and safety program early enough especially for the new employees protects them against potential hazards as they begin on their duties. Although topics for employees’ orientation depend on factors such as audience type, some of the general topics that need to be covered include the rights and responsibilities of employees, the applicable regulations, procedures for reporting hazards and incidents in the workplace, and emergency response processes. Safety training is also necessary every time a company introduces a new process or equipment or when procedures are updated.
To further ensure safety and health training, adequate individual employee records must be maintained. If for instance, a worker is injured, the records will provide information whether any of the aspects of training caused the injury. Each worker’s training record should be properly maintained for future reference. Taylor (2005) further notes that orientation is critical to ensure that the newly recruited employees are conversant with every bit of the organizational health and safety policy. Employees should receive ongoing safety and health training through attending trade fairs that keep them up to date on any changes in the industry. It is also the responsibility of the organization, through the HR department to engage occupational health and safety professions on a regular basis to provide formal training on hazard identification procedures, health and safety evaluation techniques and the application of the relevant regulations.
According to Friend & Kohn (2007), after establishing a sound health and safety program, the last step involves evaluating it to determine if it is being executed as it was intended. Then the organization should periodically assess the program to establish if it is track and to identify what is working and what has failed. Monitoring is a better way of evaluating individual employees on their ability to follow health and safety rules. Lagging indicators should be applied to tracking individual injuries that have occurred. Leading indicators, on the other hand, should be applied in determining how well the health and safety program has been implemented. Performance indicators may either be qualitative or quantitative. However, quantitative indicators are better because they are measurable and can show to what degree the organization has achieved the goals of the health and safety program. To evaluate the departmental ability to follow health and safety program, the entire organization must evaluate the program to ensure that it is operational and effective in controlling hazards. To accomplish this, it is important to review the results of compliance report to ensure that any shortcomings are identified and that the right action is taken to prevent recurrence. Another method to evaluate the effectiveness of departments in implementing the safety program is reviewing the key components of the program to determine if they are being followed. Each department should be able to determine whether key processes are operational and whether they are in place as was planned.
Impacts of Health and Safety Program
A well thought out health and safety program impact the whole organization in many ways. Other than being a key social and legal obligation, it also ensures that the health condition of the employees remains the same as they were before joining the organization. As Reese (2016) points out, it ensures that employees’ health is not impaired in any way while at work. Compliance with safety and health standards also increases an organization’s profitability and overall competitiveness. An organization that maintains high safety and health standards motivates employees to work hard which means high productivity and a high return on investment. An organization that is fully committed to safety issues also influence other stakeholders such as investors. Stakeholders believe that a sound health and safety program demonstrates that the organization is socially responsible (Reese, 2016). It also helps in protecting as well as enhancing the organizational credibility. Stakeholders also believe that it helps in building a happier, healthier and more competent workforce. Also peculiar to a well-designed health and safety program is the ability to bring down organizational costs related to nursing injuries. Finally, it encourages employees to serve the organization for a longer period as well as enhancing the organization’s ability to meet the needs of its customers without disruptions.
In conclusion, it is clear from the above discussion that an effective approach requires that both the organizational management and the employees show a positive and active commitment to a health and safety program. For this reason, organizations must include health and safety issues in their corporate governance programs. Moreover, it is the management’s role to ensure that risks and hazards are not only identified but also properly addressed by all the stakeholders. Motivating all parties across the entire organization to understand and maintain high safety standards is of great importance. As indicated in the above discussion, simple improvements in matters related to health and safety can have greater impacts on the employees, stakeholders, and to the organization as a whole.
Foster, J., & Barnetson, B. (2016). Health and safety in Canadian workplaces. Edmonton, AB: AU Press, Athabasca University.
Friend, M. A., & Kohn, J. P. (2007). Fundamentals of occupational safety and health. Lanham, Md: Government Institutes.
Maine. (2000). Basic elements of an effective safety and health program. Augusta, Me.: Maine Dept. of Labor.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. (2013). Health and safety training. Washington, D.C.: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Reese, C. D. (2016). Occupational health and safety management: A practical approach. Boca Raton: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group.
Taylor, B. (2005). Effective environmental, health, and safety management using the team approach. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley-Interscience.