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The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Law is an important tool of safety management. The provisions of Occupational and Health Laws, as well as the procedures by which they are enacted and administered interact directly with the responsibilities of enterprise management and are therefore of direct concern to employers and their organizations.
OSH Laws establishes the rights and duties of employers, employees, owners, occupiers, etc., in the use of safety and health resources, and; sets mandatory quality standards, assigns powers, responsibilities and liabilities. Safety legislation has been on the statute book for many years but the development of safety management as a subject is a recent innovation. It is now recognized that the levels of safety expected by employees and the general public cannot be achieved without utilizing safety management strategies. So much has been written about the subject that it sometimes forgotten that conventional management techniques are just as applicable to safety as to any other aspect of business.
Effective safety management does not occur by chance. It arises out of a clear understanding of obligations and the application of considered strategies and techniques. Managing safety does not exist in isolation from other aspects of the business. An enterprise may change direction in terms of the business plan, its products or markets which may in turn result in, increases or reduction in the number of employees, relocation of premises and adopting changing technologies. In all these circumstances the obligations to the safety of its employees, customers and the public at large remain but it is only style and techniques applied that differ.
Recognizing changing operational environments and adjusting the management techniques to suit are essential to improving health and safety quality management systems.
Health and Safety policies should influence all activities and decisions, including those to do with the selection of resources and information, design and operation of working systems, design and delivery of products and services and control and disposal of waste. Policy must contribute to business performance. Policies should be cost effective and aimed at achieving the preservation and development of physical and human resources and reduction in financial losses and liabilities.
2004 proved to be the beginning of a new era for occupational safety and health in Trinidad and Tobago with the assenting by Parliament of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), 2004 in January 2004. The OSHA was amended by the Occupational Safety and Health (Amendment) Act, 2006 and was proclaimed on February 17, 2006 and has been operational since that date. The OSHA seeks to promote voluntary compliance by facilitating a shift to stronger self-governance by the employer and the workers and a more regulatory role by the Government. It seeks to ensure that the promotion of high safety and health standards does not hinder business performance, productivity and efficiency while, on the other, it addresses employee rights issues such as sufficient protection and avenues for redress in accordance with the law and good industrial relations practices.
An examination of the Health and Safety Policy at Trinidad Hilton revealed that the hotel is committed "so far as is reasonably practicable" to protect the safety and health of all employees and to protect any other third parties that can be affected by its work". Harrylal Matra, Safety and Security Manager (and the person delegated to manage and ensure (OSHA) compliance) in an interview stated that Hilton assumes the responsibility to provide "â€¦working environment that is safe and healthy, materials that are safe and without risks to health, safe systems of work and an environment whereby all information, instructions and training as necessary to ensure the health and safety of everyone".
Hilton's safety policy establishes basic procedures and other requirements to provide for the safety and security of guests and employees and to minimize disruptions of operations and damage to property in the event of an emergency. Other Health and Safety policies at Hilton include their Non Smoking policy which was reviewed to ensure absolute compliance with the recently passed Tobacco Control Act, 2009.
New hires undergo job safety training to bring about awareness, competence and ensure adherence to health and safety practices at the hotel. In addition to the initial Orientation Training on Health and Safety, team members are expected to attend such training sessions as First Aid & CPR, Emergency Procedures, Fire & Safety Training and Lock Out Tag Out.
Since the passing of the Occupational Health and Safety Act the hotel has established a Safety Committee. Its purpose is to bring workers and management together in a non-adversarial, cooperative effort to promote safety and health in the hotel. The committee helps management and makes recommendations for change regarding occupational safety and health issues.
The committee is composed of an equal number of employer and employee representatives. Employee representatives are either volunteers or elected members. Members include, Safety & Security Manager, Human Resources Management Trainee, Chief Engineer, Supervisory Representative, and five (5) line employee representatives. Committee representative are required to serve a continuous terms of at least one (1) year.
The Health and Safety Committee develops a written agenda for conducting meetings, they hold regular meetings at least once a month except months when quarterly workplace safety inspections are made. Minutes are made of each meeting which management review and maintain for three years for inspection by the division. Copies are made available for all employees and are sent to each committee member. All report, evaluations, and recommendations of the safety committee are made part of the minutes of the safety committee meeting. A reasonable time limit is established for management to respond to in writing to all safety committee recommendations. The committee has established systems to allow all members to obtain safety-related suggestions, reports of hazards, or other information directly from all persons involved in the operations of the workplace. The information obtained is then reviewed in the next safety committee meeting and is recorded in the minutes for review and necessary action by management.
The committee assists management in evaluating the accident and illness prevention program and makes written recommendations to improve the program where applicable. The committee establishes procedures for workplace inspections at least quarterly and they make recommendations to management on hazard elimination and unsafe work practices. There are established procedures for the review of all safety and health inspection reports made by the committee. Based on the results of the review, the committee makes recommendations for improvement of Hilton's accident and illness prevention program.
Ineffective Health and Safety Management systems increase the risk of major deficiencies in Hilton's safety and health practices at the hotel. Much is written, but little is adhered to or implemented in terms of procedures. The authority of the Safety and Security Manager to enforce the safety and health requirements in compliance with OSHA should be documented in the Safety and Health Policy. Measuring and documenting the level of employee exposure to risks is the key element in implementing the health and safety program at Hilton. Hilton should be structured and operated to put health and safety policies into effective practice. This will be helped by the creation of a positive culture, which secures involvement and participation at all levels. It shall be sustained by effective communication and the promotion of competence, which enables all employees to make responsible and informed contribution to the health and safety effort. Hilton needs to adopt a planned and systematic approach to policy implementation. Their aim should be to minimize the risk created by work activities, products and services. They must use risk assessment methods to decide priorities and set objectives for hazards elimination and risk reduction.
Risk identification may be achieved by physical inspections, management and worker discussions, safety audits, job safety analysis hazop studies and accidents and reports. Section 25(G) of the OSHA Act which dealt with Risk Management was totally repealed but has been inserted as a new section and has been labeled Section 13(A) after Section (13) of the Main OSHA (2004). The particulars of this new section 13(A), focuses on, (inter alia), "Suitable and Sufficient Annual Risk Assessment". Put simply this means that a risk assessment should be done annually, it should identify the significant risks and disregard the trivial ones; it should identify and prioritize the measures required to comply with any relevant statutory provisions. The risk assessment should remain appropriate to the nature of the work and valid over a reasonable period of time.
Whilst risk evaluation (measurement may be based on economic, and social considerations, what is of major consequence to Hilton presently is the legal consideration to ensure compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 as amended 2006. Legal consideration includes possible constraints from compliance with OSHA's code of practice, guidance notes and accepted standards. Performance standards are to be put into operation and have performance measured against them. Wherever possible, risks should be eliminated by the careful selection and design of facilities, equipment and processes, or minimized by the use of physical control measures. Where it is not possible, systems of work and personal protective equipment can be applied to control risks.
Health and Safety performance in organizations, which manage health and safety successfully, is measured against pre-determined standards. This reveals when and where action is needed to improve performance. For Hilton the success of action taken to control risks should be accessed through active self-monitoring involving a range of techniques. This includes an examination of both hardware (premises, plant and product) and software (people, procedure and quality management systems), including behavior.
Learning from all relevant experience and applying the lessons learned are important elements ineffective health and safety quality management systems. This needs to be done systematically at Hilton through regular reviews of performance based on data from monitoring activities and from independent audits of the whole health and safety management systems.
Commitment to continuous improvement involves constant developments to policies, approaches to implementation and techniques of risk control. Organizations, which achieve high standards of health and safety, assess their health and safety performance by internal reference to key performance indicators, and by external comparison with the performance of business competitors.