Safety and Health Policy Statement
Statement: The goal of the safety management system is to maintain the health and improve the safety of employees. To do this we must establish a safety culture that begins with leadership that encourages and empowers employees at all levels to reduce unsafe actions, expose hazards, and report accidents and injuries.
This means that each employee must be personally responsible for the safety through an independent responsibility system (IRS). Arntz-Gray (2016) of Safety Science says, “All workplace parties are responsible for health and safety . . . . The greatest responsibility generally falls upon the employer, as they control the workplace, but supervisors and workers also share responsibility. The concept behind this . . . [is] the internal responsibility system (IRS). . . . Inspectors cannot be in all workplaces at all times, so workplace parties need to take responsibility for health and safety hazards to the extent that they can control them” (Arntz-Gray, 2016, p. 15). While managers and supervisors can establish and explain safety policies, it is the responsibility of each employee to maintain them.
An IRS creates a health and safety system in which each employee from the top levels of management down share responsibility for safety within the organization. In fact, safety should be considered an essential part of the job. IRS requires each worker to perform their duties with health and safety as the major focus of the job. Each person must take the initiative to perform their work in the safest manner possible. If that means reporting or correcting a potential hazard, wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), attending a safety training meeting, or some other safety related action, each employee must consider it his or her responsibility to maintain the safest work environment possible. IRS also means that employees collaborate with one another to ensure that the organization is operating in the safest way possible. This is how a safety culture is established.
Each employee should take responsibility for safety under the IRS, but managers are still ultimately responsible. However, a manager can delegate safety authority and responsibility to his or her subordinates and create accountability for safety actions. This means that every employee should feel that they have the authority to report unsafe situations without fear of reprisal. The European OSHA and Business Europe (2012) published a guide for managers and safety management systems. In it they say, “Effective upward communication is key — workers are listened to and what they say is acted upon. Equally importantly, workers accept their responsibility to follow the health and safety rules at the workplace, and are engaged with management in a constructive and helpful way. This two-way process creates a culture” (EU-OSHA/Business Europe, 2012, p. 13). However, this does not eliminate the responsibility of managers.
Once an unsafe situation is reported, though, it is the manager who then has the responsibility to rectify the situation. “The key to the success of a safety management system is allocation of authority, the creation of safety responsibility, and the holding of managers and employees at all levels accountable for safety actions in the form of doing what the safety system standards require of them” (McKinnon, 2017, p. 64). By forming a safety committee with authority and responsibility, appointing and activating safety representatives, and eliminating hazards, the organization will be operating under a safety management system with IRS as its key feature.
Occupational Safety and Health Objectives
Form safety committees within 30 days
Different committees will be established throughout the organization that are tasked with meeting once per month during regular operating hours. The committees are responsible for facilitating the management of occupational safety and health (OSH) issues. Committees are the vehicle through which employees communicate with management about safety and health concerns. For this reason, there should be at least one member of management on each committee. Committees should be formed in various departments and include representatives from each area of the department. Committees can recommend policy changes, but are not accountable for the policies as that is a function of management (McKinnon, 2017, p. 70). Committees could also consult with safety representatives.
Appoint and activate safety representatives within 60 days
Safety representatives should be appointed at all levels of the organization. While IRS is expected, it should not be that no one is responsible until someone gets hurt, and then responsibility takes the form of blame. If a safety representative is appointed at all levels of the organization, and their appointment is made known throughout the organization, then each employee knows to whom they will be responsible for their own and their co-workers’ safety. In turn, each representative is responsible for reporting health and safety concerns through the chain of command. McKinnon (2017) says, “Setting standards of authority, responsibility, and accountability makes it clear as to exactly what an individual’s safety responsibility is” (McKinnon, 2017, p. 71). Each safety representative should be responsible at their level within the organization and should be able to operate within the bounds of their authority when it comes to health and safety issues.
This seems like a no-brainer. One would think that employees would become aware of a safety hazard and report it or eliminate it. However, some employees may feel that it is not within their job description to be responsible for their co-workers’ health and safety. Either that or they believe that they would be perceived as usurping someone else’s authority if they mention a hazard. Some employees may not understand what constitutes a hazard and may not realize one exists. However, if there are safety committees who recommend policy changes, training priorities, and other health and safety issues, then training on what constitutes a hazard in each department should be immediate. Safety representatives can also point out hazards or take the health and safety concerns of other employees to management so that management is aware of any situations that may be hazardous and can eliminate them right away.
Performance Criteria Roles and Responsibilities
The criteria necessary for the safety management system plan proposed begins with a definition of safety and health responsibilities, accountabilities and the authority to act. This comes from the CEO, executives and vice presidents to all subordinate managers and then through managers to employees. However, the responsibility to see that each of the objectives is carried out is still the responsibility and accountability of the mangers (McKinnon, 2017, p. 72). One way to be sure that these objectives are carried out is to evaluate the measures taken
Measurement Strategies for Objectives
The best way to discover whether the safety objectives have been implemented and are being performed by each employee is to carry out inspections. “By carrying out safety inspections, the condition of the workplace and the ongoing processes are now measured against the accepted safety management system standards” (McKinnon, 2017, p. 76). Some types of inspections include formal inspections, inspections carried out by safety representatives, and management safety inspections. Inspections can reveal many of the issues that the objectives are designed to address. Roux (2014) of Safety Pro lists several types of information that can be gathered from regular inspections such as whether or not employees and management are engaged in the safety management system. Inspections can also reveal whether company policies and regulations and OSHA regulations are being followed. Of course, inspections can also identify potential hazards and the effectiveness of management controls. Finally, inspections also reveal in what areas management and employees need training (Roux, 2014).