The level of concern an organization gives to its Occupational Health and Safety matters determines its productivity rates. Internal strengths and weaknesses help in bridging the gap that exists between the current status of the organization and its future. The strengths within the organization is determined by its employees, the venue, skills and expertise, the events that take place within the organization and the manner in which it cares for its staff including training and development (Robinson, 2009). The weaknesses within are determined by lack of adequate funds for expansion, low manpower, poorly laid down structures of governance and management, being in poor locations, ineffective ways of communication and in some cases internal squabbles.
“Due Diligence” and its relevance to management of Occupational Health and Safety
General OHS Measures & Workplace Examples
One of the general OHS Act and Regulations requires employers to establish OHS committees within the workplaces comprising of at least ten workers. This measure forms part of the Work Area Requirement as outlined in the OHS guidelines. The committees should also include Workplace Health and Safety representatives comprising of between two to nine workers depending on the agreement between the employer and the workers. The number of management members should be less than that of labor committee members. Employers, through the OHS committee and Workplace Health and Safety representative, should ensure that workers from every department are informed concerning workplace hazards. The workers should at the same time be educated on the various ways through which they are able to address health and safety concerns. Employee education and training on occupational health and safety should be reviewed quite often; hence recommendations on training made as appropriate (Pearse, Gallagher & Bluff, 2001).
Secondly, under emergency response and preparedness, employers are mandated to consider the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) as last resort. Personal protective equipment should be used for the purposes of reducing the extent of injuries within the workplace. However, the employers are required to fully understand the limitations of PPE and at the same time ensure proper fitting for individual use (Productivity Commission, 2010). This requirement emphasizes the fact that employees should always be in proper and appropriate dress code in relation to the work they are doing. The personal wearing apparel should be of the type and condition which will ensure that individuals are not exposed to unnecessary hazards. Those working under situations involving moving vehicles should wear devices with highly visible material (NOHSC, 1996).
Another requirement stipulates that restraint systems (inform of body belts and harnesses) should be used for the purposes of preventing falls of those working at heights above the ground. This falls in line with the “Buildings, Structures, Equipment and Site Conditions” guideline of the OHS. Fall protection legislation in Australia requires that in situations where the employee is exposed to hazard of falling, more than three meters above the ground, or from open tank, pit and vat, then they are required to wear fall arrest systems. All the safety regalia, i.e. PPE should be CSA-certified. All the fall protection equipment should undergo regular inspection by qualified authorities (Pearse, Gallagher & Bluff, 2001).
While OHS guidelines in Australia are governed by three arms: Commonwealth, State and Territorial Legislation, they all serve the main purpose of providing and ensuring safety at the workplace. They provide for the enforcement of OHS, its regulations and provisions therein. Most predominant of these workplace measures in Australia is the principle of “duty of care”. This principle calls upon all employers to ensure that they provide safe environments for their employees. For example, the nanotechnology industry in Australia has witnessed a regulation of the use of nanotubes and graphite in the workplaces since they present pure forms of carbon which are harmful to humans. This workplace OHS measure has been particularly overseen by the National Industrial Chemicals Notification & Assessment Scheme (NICNAS).
Secondly, the Australian meat Industry OHS performance through WorkCover Corporation instituted ‘SAfer Industries’ strategy to ensure reduction of injuries and illnesses within the workplace. The act identifies occupational health and safety as a corporate responsibility amongst employers and their employees. WorkCover supported the institution of the act despite the strategy being recognized as industry driven. For example, the WorkCover Corporation instituted ‘SAfer Industries’ in the hospitality industry by suggesting use of equipments like cookers, knives, washers and mixers in safest conditions by providing step by step measures in handling and assignment of tasks based on degrees of qualification. Usability of any kitchen tool is determined by an individual’s qualification in that particular area (Productivity Commission, 1998; Robinson, 2009).
Lastly, in the Australia’s Health Care Industry, there is the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act which oversees the development and production of various goods and services. The unit ensures that there is consistency and uniform standards capable of meeting OSH risk management standards based on State Treasury Instruction (TI) 109. For example, for clinicians, nurses or doctors who work on human tissues, the hospital’s management is under a responsibility to provide vaccinations and fumigations whenever necessary. This is a requirement that must be met in any Australian hospital (NOHSC, 1996).
"Safety Case Approach"
Safety Case Approach can be described as the primary means through which safe operations of major hazard facility (MHF) are ensured. It comprises of all the necessary policies, objectives, codes, procedures, tools, data and roles used for managing safe operations of any facility. Safety case requires the usage and implementation of well-established safety regulations (Cormack, 2012). The concept helps in embracing the attributes of all facilities involved in the safe operation either directly or indirectly controlled. The attributes identified comprises of leadership; planning; roles, cultures, responsibilities as well as all the measures used in controlling safe operations. Safety Case assists the employer in organizing for prevention and control of the anticipated risks that may endanger health and safety (WorkSafe Victoria, 2011).
Safety Case Approach provides explanation concerning the organization as well as personnel issues. The case assists in defining the various roles and responsibilities of employees in line with the safety operations within the organization. The approach ensures that employees have the necessary knowledge and skills enabling them to competently discharge their specified duties. It also helps employers address the various human factor issues considered to have the potential of affecting safe operations (Robinson, 2009). Such issues include; knowledge management, staff turnover, fatigue, disputes, communications, clarity on the chain of command amongst others. The approach also assists employers in operational controls. These include the processes and procedures required for the smooth operation of equipment. Operational control includes the processes within the system which are applied for the purposes of identifying, rectifying and eliminating of human errors. Most human errors occur in the process of procedural checks.
The concepts applied in ensuring safe operation may be technical, engineering and management principles instituted by those in charge of operations. Such principles include those touching on human resource management, engineering design standards, preventive measures standards and design on process control systems. Employers are also able to check and monitor activities ensuring the actuality of the results (Cormack, 2012). Auditing and review are all made possible through Safety Case Approach since the management framework appear clearly defined. The degree of compliance evaluation against required standards is also made possible. The level of quality control and assurance are easily brought to check. All the systems and procedures are checked to ensure desired results through adequate reporting and investigation of desired results (Productivity Commission, 2010).
Existence of risks is inevitable from various industries and workplaces. However, there should be necessary measures instituted for the purposes of reducing injuries and illnesses. Risks can well be managed through integration of OHS measures at every level of organization and the various management processes. The overall management of workplace safety should maximize their functions through implementation of strategic roles. Observation of strict OHS measures could lead to significant change, positive relationships and enhanced productivity within any organization.
It is an employer’s duty to provide safe work environments and institute proper risk management procedures. From enforcing the Work Area Requirement to emergency response and preparedness and Buildings, Structures, Equipment and Site Conditions, just but a few of OHS’ general requirements, workplace safety should be an integral part of any business, whether big or small (Cormack, 2012). Moreover, we have seen countries like Australia playing leading roles in enforcing OHS through its principle of “duty of care”. Hospitals have taken up the challenge by providing vaccinations for their employees who interact with human tissues, NICNAS has taken up the role of regulating industrial chemicals to ensure safe work environment while the institution of SAfer Industries in the hospitality industry has ensured proper use of equipment and tools in the kitchen and the general hospitality industry.
Strategic planning is also necessary for the development and growth of any business entity. It plays a very important role in the management and execution of duties that enables an organization to achieve its goals. Each business organization plans to attain a stable financial growth supported by a very strong foundation. They strive to lead in terms of governance and management of resources. A clear vision and mission statement need to be developed in order to show what the organization is up to achieving within a particular period.
Both long term and short term goals need to be stated including the objectives. These need to be developed and arranged within their key performance areas, which are the general areas of operation within a business organization. The key performance areas may include: administration, Marketing and Finance. Within the key performance areas are the primary focus areas.
Dunn Cormack (2012) Planning Work, Health and Safety: A Guide to Workplace Risk
Management. Cch, Australia
NOHSC. (1996). Control of Major Hazard Facilities. National Standard Inc: Melbourne
Pearse W., Gallagher C. & Bluff L. (2001). Occupation Health and Safety Management Systems.
WorkCover NSW: Australia
Productivity Commission, (1998). Work Arrangements in the Australian Meat
Processing Industry. Research Report, 2
Productivity Commission (2010) Performance Benchmarking of Australian Business
Regulation: Occupational Health & Safety, Research Report, Canberra.
Robinson, R. (2009). Risk and reliability: An introductory text (7th ed.). Rev R2a publications.
WorkSafe Victoria. (2011). Safety Management Systems for major hazard facilities.
Retrieved 2nd August, 2012 from http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/