Q12. How do we communicate our occupational safety and health policy statement?
Since your occupational safety and health (OSH) policy statement is a management pledge and requires the total involvement of everyone within your organisation, it must be communicated effectively to everyone internally - and externally, too, to contractors and suppliers as appropriate.
However, the most important type of OSH policy communication is the workforce seeing management at all levels applying the policy to their own activities, and thus by example showing that it is taken seriously. When staff are told to do something, but then see that managers not doing it themselves, all the policy statements, emails and paper in the world cannot overcome this obstacle. Good personal example to others is top of the list for effective communication.
Here are some other ways of communicating your OSH policy statement to the people who are required to see it, which will help it to become embedded into your day-to-day business activities:
• A positive personal example set by all levels of management during day-to-day operations that endorse the policy philosophy.
• Posting policy statements on notice boards, reception areas and in other busy locations.
• Including the OSH policy as part of your organisation's safety induction training for new employees.
• Tailoring job descriptions to ensure that the duties (including responsibility and accountability) of staff reflect the OSH policy statement's aims.
• Management involvement in safety committees, general safety meetings, and audits and inspections (where appropriate).
• Promotion of safety representatives within your organisation so that policy aims are known at the shop-floor level.
• Use of newsletters and internal memos from senior management to promote OSH policy, OSH issues and to re-inforce the company's safety philosophy.
Q13. What should be included in additional policy statements?
Additional secondary policy statements can be developed for occupational safety and health issues. Examples can include:
• Drug and alcohol abuse.
• No smoking.
• Driving company vehicles.
Developing policy statements depends on what activities your organisation undertakes, what regulations apply to it and what the aims and targets of senior management are. Some of these policy statements will need to take into consideration local laws, regulations and formal guidance issued from a competent authority.
Below are some safety-related policy areas and guidance on the issues to be considered in your policy statements and explanatory management procedures. The lists are not exhaustive so make sure that you do your own homework on these policies.
Outline content to be considered
Drug / Drug and alcohol abuse
Legal framework - the legal requirements, including right to privacy and confidentiality. Circumstances where testing can be conducted.
Testing - whether alcohol or urine samples can be taken and under what circumstances.
Chain of custody - requirements for samples.
Standards - requirements and standards for laboratory testing.
Competency - minimum training levels of persons permitted to take samples.
Disciplinary procedures - what are the options if drug /alcohol abuse is detected.
Right of appeal.
Legal framework - the legal requirements that apply to your organisation.
Company statement - for example: "the aims of the organisation are not to tolerate bullying, employees' responsibility to maintain a work environment free from bullying, etc". Definition - define what bullying is (use a legal definition if available).
Dealing with allegations of bullying (informally) - define the system for handling bullying complaints informally within your organisation, including the complaint, intervention and closure. Dealing with allegations of bullying (formally) - define the system for handling bullying complaints formally within your organisation, including complaints, investigation, findings, discipline procedure and closure.
Legal framework - the legal requirements that apply to your organisation.
Company statement - for example, "the aims of the organisation for the promotion of good health, to have a healthy workforce, etc".
Common and work locations - outline the no-smoking areas at your facility, including company vehicles if required. Highlight any dangerous or restricted areas where smoking could be a fire or explosion hazard.
Smoking areas - outline the areas where smoking is permitted.
Housekeeping - outline provision for the safe disposal of cigarette waste (metal bins, sand bins, etc.) Health promotion - outline any schemes in place to supply nicotine patches, gums or other incentives to stop smoking.
Disciplinary procedures - what are the options if smoking is detected outside of permitted areas.
Driving company vehicles
Emergency - specify emergency contacts (including out-of-hours contacts), provide contact information for insurance and breakdown services.
Journey management - selection of routes for journeys (such that journeys can be achieved without speeding), taking breaks during driving, maximum working hours including driving, consideration for weather conditions, driving abroad, etc.
Phone use - use of mobile phones in cars, supply of hands-free kits, etc.
Avoiding driving - alternate travel arrangements (train, bus, etc), use of phone and video conference calls.
Training - consider specialist driver training courses for drivers who exceed a certain mileage annually.
Q14. What is meant by worker participation?
Worker participation regarding health and safety is increasingly important in the workplace. In fact, it is now considered to be so critical in the general social model in the EU that it is defined as a fundamental right in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. In terms of safety management, worker participation can be defined as: "providing the opportunity for employees to make a positive contribution to improve occupational safety and health in the workplace".
For employers developing or running an already-established safety management system (SMS), in practice this means:
• Recognising the often legally-defined role of the workers' safety and health representatives.
• Ensuring that workers are consulted, informed and trained on all aspects of occupational safety and health (OSH), including emergency arrangements, associated with their work.
• Making arrangements for workers to have the time / resources to participate actively in the processes defined within the OSH system.
• Consulting with the workforce through a variety of media to ensure a frequent exchange of views and information.
A SMS must define a wide range of processes, activities and procedures to support worker participation. These may include:
• Workers assisting in the development of work procedures, work instructions and workplace risk assessments.
• Encouraging workers to report unsafe acts, unsafe conditions, suggestions for improvements, etc, through a documented reporting system.
• Providing workers with training and instruction appropriate to the work tasks.
• Attendance at safety meetings, safety committees and other related meetings (where OSH may be on the agenda).
• Workers and management taking part in audits and inspections of the workplace.
• Promotion of safety representatives within the workforce.
• Safety incentive schemes to encourage worker participation.
• Clearly-defined job descriptions, including employee responsibilities as defined in national OSH legislation.
• Documented 'Stop the Job' or 'Right to Refuse Work' policies.
In the real world of course, negative influences (either individually or collectively) can impact severely on the extent to which workers are able, or allowed, to get involved in OSH matters at work, regardless of the legal framework in their jurisdiction. These include:
• A difficult economic climate, which can impact on employment prospects and, therefore, on morale and motivation at work.
• Management with a lack of commitment to health and safety (normally resulting in a poor safety culture).
• Safety representatives or delegates who are chosen by management and not by the workforce.
• Lack of information available in the workplace about the legal duties and responsibilities of employer and employees regarding health and safety.
-  2000/C 364/01, Official Journal of the European Communities, Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union – Document C364 18.12.2000