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Who’s In Favor of Employee Involvement?

Originally posted by Chris Kilbourne on September 24, 2013 on https://safetydailyadvisor.blr.com

Who’s in favor of employee involvement? Practically everybody. But the real question is, how do you make it work?

Ask a roomful of safety professionals if they favor employee involvement for improving safety and health, and you’ll likely see all hands rise. It’s intuitive that getting workers engaged in safety and health will enhance their interest and compliance.

But employee involvement is much more than participation on safety committees or suggestion systems. The sky’s the limit when it comes to ways employees can shore up the safety effort, as they boost their ownership in the program, kick up morale, and improve management/labor relations

For example, you can get workers involved in:

  • Conducting site inspections
  • Performing job safety analyses
  • Developing and revising site safety and health rules
  • Training current and newly hired employees
  • Reporting hazards and fixing those within their control
  • Supporting fellow workers by providing feedback on risks and ways to eliminate them
  • Participating in accident investigations
  • Performing a pre-use or change analysis for new equipment or 
processes to identify hazards up front

Nicholson says that about 90 percent of hazards are eliminated on the spot by the individual who identifies them. Others are brought to the attention of a supervisor and/or someone who can fix a problem the employee can’t.

Involvement in the program is shared companywide in a monthly print and e-mail safety update.

Effective Involvement

Some years back, the Health and Safety Executive, an organization for health and safety professionals in the United Kingdom, published a study entitled, “Using Soft People Skills to Improve Worker Involvement in Health and Safety.”

The purpose of the study was to answer this question: What builds and sustains an organizational environment that results in effective employee involvement in health and safety?

The study, which took an in-depth look at 10 different organizations, came up with the following conclusions:

  • Effective worker involvement took place in organizations where everyone had a role in health and safety.
  • Clear communication of safety issues and policies occurred when communication was open and flowed from top to bottom, as well as from bottom to top, in the organization.
  • Worker involvement was more effective in organizations that trained for risk assessment, and where managers and supervisors delegated risk assessment.
  • Organizations with effective worker involvement had internal champions for worker involvement, and these individuals shared certain personal attributes, including openness and a teamwork mentality.

The authors of the studied maintained that, no matter the skill level of the workforce, meaningful participation in workplace health and safety could be achieved for organizations that fostered these four conditions.