HR personnel play a key role in setting a safety culture

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HR personnel play a key role in setting a safety culture

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Few professions have as many functions as HR.

recruitment and employment. salary and benefits. training and policy management. HR personnel touch all departments and all employees.

Among these duties lies one of the most basic responsibilities of an organization. It is to ensure the safety and health of our employees.

HR professionals typically have varying levels of responsibility in this area based on the size and resources of their organization. In large companies, the HR and safety roles can be completely separated. Another may direct them to work cooperatively. Also, in smaller companies with fewer resources, the HR manager may be solely responsible for safety.

Ultimately, however, HR professionals are somehow involved in building and maintaining an organization’s safety culture.

Mohammad Farhat Ali Khan, quality, health, safety and environmental leader at Qatar-based shipping company Milaha, shared the idea at a global learning summit held earlier this year by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP). strengthened.

“Human resource management helps create a safe work environment and a proactive and preventive culture,” Khan said. “HR professionals play an important role in ensuring the health and safety of employees because they know the workplace, employees, and the demands of their jobs.”

Human Resources and Safety Intersection

Laura Rhodes explores the intersection of human resources and safety from two different angles.

Rhodes is an Associate Professor of Safety Science at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches safety theory in an academic setting. As a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) in her own safety and regulatory consulting business, she puts these theories into practice.

What she sees on the ground is that not only do most small businesses not have dedicated safety positions, many do not have HR professionals formally trained in those responsibilities. That makes it even more difficult to wear both hats effectively. But the crossover is huge, and understanding the relationship is essential, especially at the small business level.

“If your job description says an employee has to climb a ladder, the employee has to stand for four hours, lift 50 pounds, and be able to twist and walk with that 50 pounds. It has to be the core of what HR does,” says Rhodes. “But you can see ergonomics and NIOSH, so there’s a crossover with safety. [National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health] A lifting guide that plugs in numbers to measure how far someone is stretching overhead. Too heavy to include that twist? Can you remove that twist? ”

Without proper training, these questions are difficult to answer.

Safety breeds profitability and engagement

A strong safety culture is essential regardless of who bears the ultimate burden. Not just to comply with state and national alert media 2022 Employee Safety Status Report, only 53% of survey respondents considered their safety to be “very important” to their employers. At the same time, respondents rated safety as highly as reward when considering a career change.

And while a good safety record can help attract and retain quality employees, it can also impact a company’s business health. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Safety Pays Estimator evaluates the impact of safety on profitability, taking into account factors such as profit margins and the average cost of injury and illness.

“HR professionals should pay more attention to their health if increasing employee productivity, improving their company’s reputation, and increasing their annual profits all sound like the type of things they’d like to see more of. It helps make it clear to the directors that it’s time to start paying for… and it’s safe,” Khan said.

where to ask for help

However, sometimes it can be hard to know where to start. Rhodes says one of the most common questions he receives when consulting is how to find training in safety practices.

Good news? Help is available in many forms.

OSHA has an onsite consultation program for small businesses. A consultant visits at no charge to help identify hazards and compliance issues that could lead to penalties from OSHA inspection staff. It helps formalize the safety program.

There is also the ANSI/ASSP Z10.0 Occupational Safety and Health Management Standard by the American Society of Safety Professionals. It provides a risk assessment tool to help determine the likelihood of potential injury and its severity. This is a tool that Rhodes shares with each client.

Qualified professionals can help with specific issues and situations. If one of her clients decides they need to seek outside expertise, Rhodes always recommends finding a certified expert, such as a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) or a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). Said it was recommended.

Personnel preparation for safe work

Ultimately, however, Rhodes would like to see a world where HR professionals join the workforce with a higher level of safety education, teaching them theories that help them make decisions. Indiana University of Pennsylvania is starting to see more non-safety majors in its Safety 101 class as other departments within the campus encourage or require students to add safety classes to their major course offerings.

“It’s great to send them out for more training, but my view is that safety needs to be included in the college curriculum,” Rhodes said. When I’m with them, I try to point out, ‘This is where we come together.'”

Until safety education becomes widespread at the university level, HR professionals will be unexpectedly called to fill safety responsibilities for which they are not well trained.

They may find themselves dealing with a variety of duties, including topics such as managing safety committees and employee safety training, disaster preparedness and security, accident investigations, and safety disputes.

Regardless of the size of the organization, HR personnel always play a role in safety, whether it is enforcing policies, communicating policies throughout the company, or dealing with safety issues that arise among employees.

“In addition to overseeing policies and procedures and ensuring employee compliance with them, HR’s most important role is to ensure that all members of the organization are It’s about understanding the responsibility,” Khan said.

Tyson Matthews[AC1] Writer for the Board of Certified Safety Professionals.