Importance of a Safe and Healthy Work Environment

3229 words (13 pages) Essay

8th Feb 2020 Human Resources Reference this

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Over the past 50 years, the environment and culture of service industries has continued to change dramatically. Due to the tremendous changes in diversity and the rapid growth in technology in and around the organization, this has resulted in new developments and adversities for employees and employers alike. Automation through the use of technology is ensuring greater efficiencies for companies according to Karehka Ramey. To give an example, by introducing the use of robotics into manufacturing plants, this then increases production tremendously. In contrast, there are safety risks with using robotics for the worker if they have been trained properly on the technology, or if it has not been installed properly and trained safely.  The training on robotics is not the same as other machine training; this requires a specialty trainer, usually from the manufacturer to administer the first time. By adhering to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements, the implementation of safety programs, the promotion of wellness programs and the accessibility to employee assistance programs, a healthy and safe work environment will be ensured. (Ramey).

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Managing diversity in the workplace involves the development of a supportive culture according to R. Wayne Mondy and Joeseph J. Martocchio.  Due to growing diversity in the workplace, this subsequently will increase innovations, productivity and will encourage more of a diverse customer clientele. As a result, due to the growing diversity in the workplace, many companies have difficulty overcoming the language barriers and various differences in cultures. The employer is responsible to develop a culture that is supportive that will focus on providing a healthy and safe work environment.  Many times this focus is placed on the Human Resource department to provide this type development (Mondy and Martocchio).

Countless employers have a difficult time effectively keeping their employees safe. With a growing diverse workforce and the rapid growth of technology, the challenges that employers are facing have increased and will continue to rise. In 1970, Richard Nixon signed The Occupational Safety and Health Act, also known as OSHA. Since 1971 when it was established, OSHA has put into effect a set of regulations and standards that all employers must obey so that it will secure a healthy and safe work environment. If an employer chooses to not comply with OSHA regulations, this employer could receive costly fines for non-compliance (OSHA).

Before 1971, prior to establishing OSHA, there were estimated to be workplace related fatalities of approximately fourteen thousand. Today’s work place fatalities, there are approximately four thousand five hundred yearly. The results of most of these fatalities are from electrocutions, falls, or by beings struck by an object. The OSHA standard that is the number one cited is Fall Protection. OSHA’s main concern is employee safety and health, even though many employers panic on an OSHA inspection visit. Complying with OSHA is critical for employee safety in the workplace (OSHA).

OSHA requires initial training when employment starts for many safety topics including; Lockout and Tagout, E Personal Protective Equipment requirements Emergency Evacuation, Hazard Communication, Hearing Conservation, Personal Protective Equipment requirements, and Walking Working Surfaces. Additional topics could possibly require training depending on the job description or the type of industry. When specific job functions change, some OSHA Standards require annual training, along with the initial training that was required. Employers must ensure they are training their employees in a language they understand, due to the growing diversity in today’s workforce. (OSHA).

Due to the rapid growth in technology, manufacturers have added robotics in many areas to be able to increase production. To be able to establish a safe work environment, machine guarding is imperative.  All Employers should provide the necessary training for each employee to ensure not only the safety of those employees, but that they are taking proper measures to safeguard machines as well. Lockout and Tagout procedures of all equipment must be properly trained to all employees to prevent any injuries that could occur when guards are removed for service or repair (OSHA).

The recordkeeping requirement procedures of OSHA require that employers keep records of all recordable accidents within a facility by using the OSHA 300 Log. The HR department is typically the department that completes this task; in some companies, employers have a Safety Manager that is assigned to this task that works with the HR Department. The Safety Manager is responsible for Worker’s Compensation, OSHA recordkeeping, and written safety programs in many companies. (OSHA).

According to the Small Business Chronicle, “health and safety programs are an important part of preventing injury and illness in the workplace” (Chron.com).  Employers must develop and implement safety programs in order to ensure adherence to safety and health requirements; completing both tasks are essential. These standards have negative results for not complying, equally as important as being very direct and clear along with providing the necessary training as needed. Each of these examples are crucial to have a successful health and safety program.

The belief that a consequence, or punishment for lack of compliance, is the most effective way to make the program successful is actually one of the most common reasons safety and health programs fail. Discipline is necessary and can be quite beneficial in gaining cooperation from employees. On the flip side, however, repercussions by themselves are short lived effects and most of the time, would be used as a last resort. Once an employee has made a mistake and a punishment has been made, usually a lesson has been learned by that employee and others not to make the same mistake twice. Unfortunately, it is unusual for employees to take consequences serious just by reviewing the policies until they have witnessed an accident or a safety violation themselves. Every once in a while punishment can have an adverse effect. At times, being afraid of the consequences can prevent employees from reporting issues when they see them. Changing the way we use our words could possible avoid this. Instead of saying the word punishment, just replace it with the word discipline. Discipline may or may not involve punishment. E. Scott Geller, senior partner of Safety Performance Solutions says “discipline is influencing people to do the right things and punishment is not the right way” (Beyond Punishment). To recap, using a type of punishment is a key in any program, being very direct and clear along with providing the necessary training as needed is the most effective way to make employees comprehend what is expected of them.

The majority of employees does not intend on breaking the rules or by not following procedures that have been set up by the company. According to Occupational Health and Safety Online, “If a program is complex, complicated, or over-engineered, it will be hard for most employees to engage in it” (Keare).  Most of the time this is a misconception because of the way the policy or procedure was written or enforced to where the procedure was not clear directive to the employee and they misunderstood. Making the program easy and clear to understand when you are writing them by using good terminology is critical to prevent misunderstandings. By using company jargon in these policies will not be beneficial to most that will be using them. One should be write exactly what the expectation is to be proactive in avoiding any issues from happening. For example, this could cover working in a location with excessive height or the operation of a piece of equipment. It doesn’t matter the issue, be clear and precise on the expectations to where it can be easily understood. Preparing documentation on what should be done in the event something did happen would also apply to this. Being flexible and willing to learn is crucial for employers. There are often several revisions that are needed with kicking off these programs due to items that may have been missed. Finally, without the proper training and just putting a policy or procedure out there for the employee to read would be ineffective.

Wise Global Training says, “Educating workers on the basics of occupational health and safety can help reduce workplace accidents and injuries, saving companies from costly legal battles with employees and lifelong support for their families” (Wise). Support, along with training is the two most important facets in business. Health and safety programs would not be complete without the complete training that corresponds with each type program. By the use of training and safety programs, this will help employers in their mission of being successful in keeping their employees healthy and safe; even though, the overall wellness of the employees is another important facet. If an employee has an unhealthy habit and cannot come to work, then, safety at work is not a concern.

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According to R. Wayne Mondy and Joeseph Martocchio,workplace health and safety practices are important because they help prevent accidents and reduce health care and medical costs for the company. Companies that encourage wellness programs will improve the employee’s health, reduce stress, improve overall morale, and enhance self-esteem. The wellness program would include counseling for mental health, reducing stress, and help with substance abuse through the EAP program. Drug testing would be required for all employees, and a substance abuse free workplace would be enforced to protect the safety of the company and its employees (Mondy and Martocchio).  Encouraging personal and professional development, increasing productivity and improving the work environment are the visions of workplace wellness programs. The nice thing about a wellness program is that it outlines the essential skills and tools to sustain a work environment that promotes good health with the use of incentives, rewards, wellness apps, and gym membership discounts, goal oriented wellness initiatives, and company health focused newsletters. Wellness programs that are successful will offer incentives that make the achievement of healthier goals attainable for all participants, and have the participation of the employees within the company.

By having wellness programs, this will convey to the employees that they care about their overall well-being and are valued in the company. Going along with Llona Bray, wellness programs give the necessary skills and guidance to enhance the health of all employees. Wellness programs should have a crucial focus placed on them in the workplace as they provide a revitalized benefit to the company by expanding the degree of productivity for their employees. Successful wellness programs do encourage and support a healthy lifestyle among employees and serve to boost their overall morale.  Employers should want to encourage wellness programs within the workplace and make sure the programs motivate healthy lifestyles for their employees. (Healthy Employees)

Additionally, wellness programs will increase productivity and profit with the employee’s enhanced quality of life out and inside the workplace. Employees want to feel like they are cared for and that they are more health aware and employers should want to create this type of work culture. Improved employee morale and increased efficiencies will add value to the company. When implementing these wellness programs for the employees, OSHA requirements should be adhered by the company. An active approach should be taken by companies when teaching education classes to employees on how to maintain healthy lifestyles. By promoting wellness programs in the company, this will deliver equivalent benefits for employees and the company.

Likewise, The Employee Assistance Trade Association records that Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are equally valuable as established wellness programs (E. T. Association). U.S, Legal explains precisely how these type programs are very different in their handling and use is encouraged through referrals by management or increased recognition through conveyance with, and from line managers. EAP programs can help employees with drug abuse, marriage issues, and stress/anxiety due to work or personal issues. These type services can be utilized by phone and/or by an appointment. The majority of employers have some type of EAP program in place. The majority of the EAP services are completed thru service providers with contracts, same as other type insurances. EAP services can also assist in training for line managers, supervisors, and executives to recognize employees that might need or benefit from EAP help.  EAP programs lead to many more services being offered as benefits to employers and employees. (US Legal)

A question that is asked often is “Are they effective?” with the growth and influence of EAPs. The effectiveness of EAPs has been a subject of discussion for companies attempting to justify EAP programs, or lower budgets. A move to counsel the employee, accompanied by providing additional services that could assist the patient, has enhanced the implementation of EAP programs, stated by the Society for Human Resource Management.  The focal point is concerning overcoming behavioral or mental issues and the health of the employee. The majority of EAP treatment programs will not attempt to enhance productivity in the company.  The end result regarding productivity enhancement is only a consequence of treating the health issues the employee is dealing with. EAP end results cannot be weighed by the improved productivity for the company only can be weighed by the enhanced welfare of the said employee.  EAP programs are excellent for the employees and the company who can utilize and need them the same (Sharar and Lennox).

The Human Resource Management range of responsibilities is immeasurable. Nevertheless, the employee’s health and safety that takes highest level in their priority. The employee’s worth should not be understated to a company. Stated by Amy Anderson, replacing invaluable employees is very difficult, but adding new positions may be simple for a company. Employers should make every employee feel cared for and appreciated. In addition, employers need to make known clearly that the employee’s health and wellness of most importance to them by adhering to OSHA regulations and by utilizing wellness, employee assistance programs, and safety within their companies (Anderson).

Work Cited

  • Doug Keare “Fun, Simple, Rewarding: The New Paradigm.” Occupational Health & Safety. 01, 2011 Apr. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 July 2017.
  • Anderson, Amy Rees. “Great Employees Are Not Replaceable.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 13
  • Aug. 2013. Web. 14 July 2017. <https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyanderson/2013/02/13/great-employees-are-not-replaceable/#508da65b5403>.
  • “Beyond Punishment.” Safety+Health Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 July 2017.
  • “Importance of Workplace Health & Safety.” Chron.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 July 2017.
  • “Key Benefits of Providing Health And Safety Training For Employees.” Wise Global Training Ltd. N.p., 26 June 2017. Web. 17 July 2017.
  • Ramey, Karehka. “The Advantages and Disadvantages of Technology in the Workplace.” Use of Technology. N.p., 02 May 2017. Web. 14 July 2017. <http://www.useoftechnology.com/technology-workplace-2/>.    
  • Mondy, R. Wayne, and Joseph J. Martocchio. Human resource management. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc., 2016. Print.
  • Association, EASNA The Employee Assistance Trade. EASNA The Employee Assistance Trade
  • Association, What Is EAP? 2017. Website. 10 July 2017. <https://www.easna.org/research-and-bestpractices/what-is-eap/>.
  • US Legal, Inc. USLegal, Inc. 2007. Website. 12 July 2017. <https://definitions.uslegal.com/e/employee-assistance-programs/>.
  • “UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  Web. 10 July 2017.  
  • Bray, Ilona M., 1962– Healthy employees, healthy business : easy, affordable ways to

promote workplace wellness / by Ilona Bray. — 2nd ed. p. cm.

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