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Avoid Prison: Strategies to Promote a Safe Workplace

Question:

I’ve read a few articles about individuals at companies potentially getting sentenced to prison for accidents in the workplace. What is my responsibility as an HR Professional in ensuring a safe workplace?

Answer:

Human resources professionals play an important role in ensuring employee health and safety. In some organizations, health and safety are responsibilities within the human resources department. While in others, human resources professionals may not be directly involved in the daily operations of workplace health and safety. In either case, human resources should ensure that the company is proactively doing their part to ensure a safe workplace, and know and respond to employee concerns around health and safety.

As reported in an article from EHS Today in December 2015, OSHA and the U.S. Department of Justice put employers on notice in December 2015 that “serious jail time could be in their future if employees die as a result of violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and other Department of Labor Statutes.”

With this memorandum, prosecutors now have been encouraged to consider utilizing Title 18 and environmental offenses, which often occur in conjunction with worker safety crimes, to enhance penalties and increase deterrence.

Below are three strategies HR professionals and their companies can implement to promote health & safety and avoid potential OSHA violations and penalties:

  1. Clarify policies, roles, and responsibilities.

In order to meet these heightened responsibilities, human resources professionals must take an active role in safety. They need to understand and clarify the health and safety responsibilities of employers, managers, supervisors, and employees within the organization and implement policies to ensure everyone is aware of and practicing his/her responsibilities. In addition, Human Resources needs to establish effective ways of ensuring individuals can fulfill their health and safety responsibilities.

  1. Implement ways to improve collaboration.

Often times, since HR professionals are not out in the field or on the shop floor, it’s difficult to monitor what’s going on and be able to react quickly when an incident does occur, as many companies are still managing these processes manually via paper and email. That’s why we like technology solutions, like iReportSource.  iReport helps alert human resources when an incident occurs and provides easy access to one system of record for collaboration with the appropriate parties to get the incident resolved quickly and accurately.

  1. Make steps to cultivate a proactive culture.

In addition, Human Resources needs to monitor activities to ensure that safety audits, site inspections, near-misses, training, and appropriate interactions are happening consistently. A system like iReport proactively tracks these best practice measures, along with the data from accidents that occur, to allow HR professionals to not only monitor what’s happening but to identify where the next accident might occur, so that measures can be taken to prevent accidents from happening. This data isn’t possible to get to easily or quickly when you are using a manual, paper-based process. Better yet – the data is yours. It eliminates relying on your TPA or insurance company for this data.

Having a safe workplace is the basis to having a productive and engaged workplace. As a Human Resources professional, the responsibility is yours to ensure your company is actively managing safety. Employing a tool that makes it easy, helps reinforce the right behaviors consistently, and gives you insight to improve your outcomes makes it a no-brainer.

A special thanks to iReportSource for sharing their insights on safety in the workplace. For more information on iReportSource contact Nancy at nkoors@ireportsource.com and 513-442-8595.

 

Have you had a safety audit recently? Do you know which OSHA forms you are required to complete? A safe environment plays a key role in keeping a company Healthy, Safe and Secure. Strategic HR, inc. has the expertise you need to ensure your policies and practices are keeping your workers, and customers, safe. Visit our Health, Safety and Security page to learn more about how we can assist you.