Occupational health and safety in the workplace is about ensuring people are aware of the potential dangers and the means of reducing risk. All accidents should be viewed as preventable.
It is the responsibility of the employer to cultivate a safe workplace culture and for the employer and employee to maintain this safe culture.
The formation of an OHS workplace committee offers the opportunity for a collaborative approach to workplace safety where the safe culture of the workplace can be developed.
Benefits of a proactive approach
Improves productivity and customer service.
Investing energy into creating health and safety standards and a safe working environment gives your employees and customers confidence that your business is responsible and capable and that you CARE about them. This helps create a high degree of ownership and pride amongst employees and an overall improvement in productivity and customer service.
Improves your overall business operating systems.
When you start to examine job tasks to identify and control hazards you are indirectly improving your business processes as you will also have the opportunity to examine
whether tasks are being performed with the most efficient use of time and resources.
There is a myth that safety slows down the task. For example, waiting ten minutes for
an employee to help you split and carry a heavy load turns out to be a valuable ten minutes, when instead, you complete the task alone and injure your back resulting in the afternoon off.
Improves your overall business image.
Businesses underestimate the benefits of promoting good health and safety standards.
For example your products/services displaying information regarding the extra efforts your company has taken to ensure a safer product/service. Think of the opposite.
Whenever your Business name, products, services or employees are involved in an incident or complaint that harms members of the public and/or employees your business may be viewed as dodgy or unethical.
This could affect your company image and your future profits.
Protects your business profits,
Maintaining a safer and healthier workplace will save you the costs associated with work related injury/illness.
These costs result from production down time, plant and equipment failure, injured employees working slower, cost of replacing employees or overtime of existing employees.
There are also the costs associated with possible litigation. Every dollar invested in safety and prevention protects your profit.
Characteristics of a proactive health and safety workplace
Listed below are just some of the characteristics or 'visible signs' of a proactive health and safety workplace culture.
No workplace injuries/accidents;
- Policy statements are visibly displayed;
- Good employee morale and fewer customer complaints;
On-the-job training for employees;
- You consult with your employees regarding all health and safety issues;
- There is an emphasis on eliminating hazard through redesign;
- Maintenance systems are in place for plant, tools and equipment;
- There are visible safety signs and reminders;
- There is safety labelling on your goods, products and services advertising the extra care your company has taken;
- Everyone is clear on what to do in an emergency;
- All employees are aware of the company's safety rules.
These characteristics and how to achieve them are addressed throughout the module.
Avoid falling into the trap of the 'reactive approach' which involves only responding to health and safety problems as they arise or after the accident has happened. You may have heard the following excuses used for not being proactive about health and safety and include:
"Our injuries are not that serious just lots of little things" "Injuries/accidents are the nature of the job or the business" "We do not worry about safety because it's common sense" "Accidents are just bad luck"
"We provide the safety clothing and equipment but the employees won't wear or use it"
All of the above excuses send the message that you are not really serious about health and safety.