Human Resource Management - Chapter 012
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CHAPTER 12: PROMOTING SAFETY AND
27 November 2013
Occupational Safety and health accidents are both numerous and costly to employers. To prevent losses
such as these, employers are concerned with providing working conditions, in all areas of employment
that provide for the safety and health of their employees. The more cost-oriented employer recognizes
the importance of avoiding accidents and illnesses whenever possible. Most organizations provide
employees with good working conditions because it is the right thing to do and because firms realize that
people are the most strategic asset they have.
SAFETY AND HEALTH: IT’S THE LAW
Occupational health and safety is regulated by the federal, provincial, and territorial governments.
OCCUPATIONAL INJURY is any cut, fracture, sprain, or amputation resulting from a workplace accident or
from an exposure involving an accident in the work environment. OCCUPATIONAL ILLNESS is any abnormal
condition or disorder, other than one resulting from an occupational injury, caused by exposure to
environmental factors associated with employment.
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Fundamental duty of every employer is to take every reasonable precaution to ensure employee safety.
Regulatory legislation is essential to the operation of our complex industrial society; it plays a legitimate
and vital role in protecting those who are most vulnerable and least able to protect themselves.
Duties of Employers. Besides providing a hazard-free workplace and complying with the applicable
statutes and regulations, employers must inform their employees about safety and health requirements.
Employers are also required to keep certain records, to compile an annual summary of work related
injuries and illnesses, and to ensure that supervisors are familiar with the work and its associated hazards.
Employers must provide safety training and be prepared to discipline employees for failing to comply with
safety rules. Employers are increasingly being required to prove due diligence.
Duties of Workers. Employees are required to comply with all applicable acts and regulations, to report
hazardous conditions or defective equipment, and to follow all employer safety and health rules and
regulations, including those prescribing the use of protective equipment. Workers have the right to refuse
unsafe work without fear of reprisal. An employee who suspects that work conditions are hazardous an
report this concern to his or her supervisor; this will trigger an investigation by the supervisor and a worker
Duties of Joint Health and Safety Commitments. Most jurisdictions require that health and safety
committees be set up, with both union and management representation. The point of these joint
committees is to establish a non-adversarial climate for creating safe and healthy workplaces.
PENALTIES FOR EMPLOYER NONCOMPLIANCE
The penalties for violating occupational health and safety regulations vary across provinces and territories.
Most health and safety acts provide for fines up to $500,000, and offenders can be sent to jail.
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Under worker’s compensation, injured workers can receive benefits in the form of a cash payout (if the
disability is permanent) or wage loss payments (if the worker can no longer earn the same amount of
money). INDUSTRIAL DISEASE is a disease resulting from exposure to a substance relating to a particular
process, trade, or occupation in industry. Compensation for stress, stress-related disabilities are usually
divided into three groups: physical injuries leading to mental disabilities (IE: Clinical depression after a
serious accident); mental stress resulting in a physical disability (ulcers or migraines); and mental stress
resulting in a mental condition (anxiety over workload or downsizing, leading to depression). Most claims
result from accidents or injuries.
PROMOTING A SAFE WORK ENVIRONMENT
The HR department or the industrial relations department is responsible for the safety program.
Organizations with formal safety programs generally have an employee management safety committee
that includes representatives from management, each department or manufacturing service unit, and
employee representatives. Committees are involved in investigating accidents and helping to publicize
the importance of safety rules and their enforcement.
CREATING A CULTURE OF SAFETY
Firms try to create a “culture” of safety within their organizations that goes beyond managing operational
processes and reducing accidents. A culture of safety exists when everyone within an organization
consciously works to improve its safety and health conditions.
Interviewing for Safety. One of the ways HR managers can help create a culture of safety within in an
organization is to encourage supervisors to incorporate safety into their interviews with job candidates.
Although asking job candidates about the injuries they have experienced is off limits, interviewers can ask
candidates other behavioral-type questions designed to elicit their propensity for safety (IE: Witnessing
unsafe incident and how they handled it). If managers and supervisors fail to demonstrate awareness,
their subordinates can hardly be expected to do so.
The Key Role of the Supervisor. One of a supervisor’s major responsibilities is to communicate to an
employee the need for work safety. Beginning with new employee orientation, safety should be
emphasized continually. Proper work procedures should be explained thoroughly. Where unsafe acts are
detected, supervisors should take immediate action to find the cause. Supervisors should foster a team
spirit of safety among the work group.
Proactive Safety Training Program. Safety training is good business and is legally required. When training
is mandated, employers must keep accurate records of employee education. Common topics are: first aid,
defensive driving, accident prevention techniques, hazardous materials, and emergency procedures.
Employees can offer valuable ideas regarding specific safety and health topics, it makes them feel a sense
of ownership in the instructional program.
ENFORCING SAFETY RULES
Specific rules and regulations concerning safety are communicated through supervisors, bulletin board
notices, employee handbooks, and signs attached to equipment. They are emphasized in regular safety
meetings, at new-employee orientations, and in manuals of standard operation procedures.
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