Outside of physically demanding professions like construction or nursing, many companies consider Health and Safety programs irrelevant. Regardless of field or function, however, all organizations are responsible for ensuring employees’ health and safety while performing their jobs. This even holds true in organizations that typically operate in an office-type environment.
Not only does a Healthy and Safety program minimize liability and lower the risk of penalties and fines, but it also outlines the requirements an employer must meet, and the actions an employee must take, in order to ensure employee safety.
For example, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety lists the following potential concerns for professional services firms:
- air quality and allergens,
- ergonomic and repetitive strain injuries,
- working alone,
- prolonged sitting and eyestrain,
- and emotional injuries and issues, such as workplace stress or harassment.
To ensure your company is correctly and effectively managing your Health and Safety program, avoid making the following mistakes:
1. Not Hiring a Health and Safety Auditor
Again, you don’t have to be a construction company working towards your Certificate of Recognition (COR) to focus on the importance of employee Health and Safety. Hiring a consultant to audit your Health and Safety program can be the best first step in addressing your organization’s potential risks, as it will show you what to focus on and where to start.. This is also the best place to start when you don’t have a program in place, as it will give you an overall assessment of the risks and areas that need to be addressed.
A formal audit provides necessary insight and information into your program’s effectiveness at preventing Health and Safety incidents, while specifically addressing the risks inherent to your company’s unique environment. Additionally, an audit will leave you with a thorough report highlighting both the positive and negative elements of your Health and Safety program, as well as recommended remedial action for problem areas.
Overall, an audit is an inexpensive way to correct potential issues, and lets you actively work towards mitigating risks by developing a comprehensive Health and Safety program.
2. Not Integrating Human Resources and Safety
Because of their unique position in your organization, Human Resources (HR) professionals know each employee and his/her job demands, making your HR team particularly adept at identifying the potential Health and Safety concerns specific to your organization. Integrating your HR and Health and Safety departments sets your company up to successfully create and implement your program.
According to HR Reporter, Health and Safety inherently overlap with core components of HR management. HR can communicate your company’s commitment to Health and Safety, as well as support employee involvement and compliance by developing and managing policies and procedures, ensuring regulatory compliance and reporting requirements are met, and coaching and training managers and employees.
Some of these overlapping concerns include:
- workplace harassment and bullying,
- attendance management,
- disability management,
- workers’ compensation claims,
- return to work programs,
- job design,
- wellness initiatives,
- and performance management.
Having an integrated department is particularly useful in managing areas where HR and Health and Safety meet, creating successful outcomes for both areas of expertise.