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The Role of HR in Creating a Safe and Healthy Workplace

May 12 2017 - On average, 150 workers died from illnesses and injuries at work every day in 2015, according to the AFL-CIO. And what's even more shocking, is that these cases could have been prevented. As workers spend a huge part of their life every day, at work, it's crucial that they have a safe working environment. It's the responsibility of the employer and its HR team to ensure that workers are provided with a safe environment to work in. And while the priority should be about protecting the health and wellbeing of employers, it can also reflect positively on the firm's balance sheet too.

HR communicates, collaborates and listens

An organization's HR plays a key role in administering, communicating, and championing health safety policies across the company. The HR has three main roles in health and safety:

  • Communicating to the entire organization that it is everyone's responsibility, from the CEO to the lowest ranked worker, to ensure a safe working environment.
  • Collaborating with either internal, or external safety and health agencies on behalf of the company.
  • Listening to the issues of the employees, while conveying the company's commitment towards its employees, and boosting employee morale.
Occupational Safety and Health Act

Under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, employers must provide their employees with a workplace free from hazards that could cause physical harm or death. This responsibility under the OSH Act applies to all employers who have at least one employee. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) works in partnership with the Department of Justice to penalize employers that knowingly risk employees safety or try to cover up an accident.

Safety policy and procedures

The United States Labor Department and OSHA recommend that companies set up a safety policy and procedure at every location. It's estimated that organizations have to spend $170 million each year on injury cases. But if companies follow the policies recommended by OSHA, it can help reduce up to 40% of accidents every year. The organization's health and safety policy should reassure employees that the company is committed to providing a safe and healthy, and work-friendly environment.

Job Safety Analysis (JSA)

So that HR can develop or assist in the development of a safety and health program for the company, they must identify hazards at the worksite. A Job Safety Analysis (JSA) is the best way to do a comprehensive and thorough examination of the worksite to identify those hazards. Once safety and health hazards have been identified, it is critical that measures are put in place to eliminate or control the hazard. These responsibilities concern staff working at all location, even for those working away from the usual worksite.

A safe and healthy workplace can be good for business

It is generally agreed that a happy workforce is most likely going to also be a highly productive workforce. Coordination between the HR and safety and health results in the company policies being more consistently applied and followed, results in greater satisfaction of employees working at the site. By ensuring consistent HR and safety and health policies, the HR team can help to improve employee morale, while at the same time improving their safety. This will result in an organization boasting happy and productive employees, improved quality, efficiency and profitability.

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