Workers

Everyone is responsible for occupational safety and health (OSH). This statement also means that no one in particular is accountable or responsible. Three entities must be accountable and responsible for accident prevention. These three are as follows:

  • 1. The person who, by background or experience, has been assigned responsibility and therefore assigned accountability to assure that the company's safety and health program is adhered to.
  • 2. The supervisor who models the company's safety personality. The supervisor is the liaison between management and the worker relevant to the implementation of safety. The supervisor must be held both responsible and accountable for safety in his/her work area.
  • 3. The employees who are responsible for abiding by the company's rules and policies and are accountable for their own behavior, safe or unsafe.

Each of the aforementioned entities must understand both their responsibilities and accountabilities regarding the safety and health policies and procedures of the company.

The first two were discussed earlier in this section. It might be wondered why employees (workers) would even be mentioned. The main reason is the nature of their work. OSH is directed toward the work that they are to perform. If they perform their work in a safe and healthy manner, then they will end their workday without death, injury, or illness and return home in the same condition as when they left. This is why the employer has certain expectations of the workforce. If the company fulfills its obligation, then why should employees not shoulder personal responsibility and perform according to expected safety and health behaviors?

Why Workers?

Although workers do not have the control that management has over the workplace, they are still responsible for complying with the company's safety and health policies and procedures. This is why commonly accepted worker responsibilities are expected by employers, and workers are held accountable for their adherence to them.

  • 1. Comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) regulations and standards.
  • 2. Do not remove, displace, or interfere with the use of any safeguards.
  • 3. Comply with the employer's safety and health rules and policies.
  • 4. Report any hazardous conditions to their supervisor or employer.
  • 5. Report any job-related injuries and illnesses to their supervisor or employer.
  • 6. Report near-miss incidents to their supervisor or employer.
  • 7. Cooperate with the OSHA inspector during inspections when requested to do so.
  • 8. Report to work on time.
  • 9. Wear suitable work clothes.
  • 10. Observe good personal hygiene.
  • 11. Sleeping, gambling, horseplay, fighting, theft, fireworks, and firearms are strictly prohibited on the job, and are grounds for immediate dismissal.
  • 12. Using or being under the influence of alcohol, narcotics, or other drugs or intoxicants is strictly prohibited.
  • 13. Wear your personal protective equipment as prescribed for each task.
  • 14. Housekeeping is everyone's responsibility.
  • 15. Observe "danger," "warning," "caution," and "no smoking" signs and notices.
  • 16. Use and handle equipment, materials, and safety devices with care.
  • 17. Do not leave discharged fire extinguishers in the work areas.
  • 18. Do not expose yourself to dangerous conditions or actions.
  • 19. Do not operate any equipment when you have not been trained.
  • 20. Participate in all safety and health training provided.
  • 21. Attend all safety and toolbox meetings (mandatory).

If a worker elects not to follow rules or to perform work in an unsafe manner, then there should be consequences, which must be strictly enforced by the company and its representatives. Failure to do so negates the authority of the safety and health policies and procedures. Each company should have a discipline policy, which is progressive and stringently enforced. A policy at its simplest is presented as follows:

  • 1. Verbal warning—first offense
  • 2. Written warning—second offense
  • 3. Suspension from work—third offense
  • 4. Dismissal/termination—fourth offense

This why employees must be held accountable for poor safety performance. As can be seen, each of these three entities has responsibility for safety and health in some form or fashion and should be held strictly accountable for their safety and health performance.

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