This article was first published in the Access Engineering Blog here.
According to the ISO 45001:2018 standard (clause no. 5.4); to be effective, any health and safety management system needs the meaningful participation of its workers. As only workers know the most about the potential hazards associated with their jobs.
Furthermore, worker participation is also helpful to get ideas and perspectives from workers to enhance organizational performance with regards to its working environment and service quality.
Therefore, it is essential to have a mechanism to ensure that all workers (including subcontractors) actively participate and contribute to company management systems.
The following list is recommended to ensure the effective participation of workers towards enhancing the performance of the company’s management system and through it the company itself.
Workers on site understand the challenges of executing their tasks. Listen to them (P2)
Encourage Worker Participation
Encourage worker participation, which conveys the message that the management really values their workers' inputs and involvement, by;
Providing the necessary time and resources
Maintaining an open-door policy, that invites workers to talk to managers about health and safety, environment and quality issues, and any other general suggestions they may have
Recognizing worker contribution to the company’s health & safety management system, for example a “Best Safe Work Performer” award.
Bad practices are easy to catch on and it is difficult to eradicate once it becomes a standard practice (P3)
Enable Reporting on Issues / Concerns
Encourage workers to report shortcomings, such as workplace hazards, unsafe conditions, near misses, incidents, and environment and quality issues, by;
Establishing a process for workers to report injuries, illnesses, near misses, hazards, and other environment and quality concerns.
Empowering all workers to request a temporary suspension/shut down of any work activity, that they believe to be unsafe.
Emphasizing that management will only use reported information to improve organizational performance, and not to penalize workers who submit such reports.
Different helmet colours help identify roles from a distance. (P4)
Access to Health and Safety Information
Share relevant health & safety information with workers, which fosters trust and helps enhance health & safety performance, by;
Providing information that they need to understand the Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) of all aspects of their workplace as well as the control measures in place to protect them from any foreseeable danger.
Providing specific types of information available to workers, such as (Material safety data sheets (MSDS), details of incidents, results of incident investigations, etc.)
Safety standards are a protection net that ensures damages caused by accidents are always minimized. (P5)
Worker Involvement in the Plan-Do-Check-Adjust (PDCA) Management System
Include worker input at every step of the management process (planning, implementation, checking and action or adjustment), ensuring sustainable improvements in process efficiency and worker performance, by;
Providing opportunities for workers to participate in all steps of the implementation and maintenance of management systems (Setting objectives, identifying and eliminating hazards, conducting inspections, investigating incidents, etc.)
A well equipped, organised engaged workforce is essential to reducing workplace injuries (P6)
Remove Barriers to Participation
Take actions to eliminate barriers, which could refrain workers from active participation and contribution to the company management system by;
Ensuring workers from all levels of the organization can participate regardless of their skill level, education, or language
Providing frequent and regular feedback to show employees, that their concerns are being heard and addressed
As highlighted, worker engagement and participation is essential to the formulation of any successful Health and Safety Management system. This is because it is the workers who best understand the challenges and difficulties their jobs entail. By providing the correct management policies it is not only possible to build loyalty amongst the workers who feel their voices are being heard within your organisation but also improve standard operational processes, improving efficiency and increasing profit for the company.