Small and medium enterprises or even larger organizations treat health and safety inspections as dreadful comprehensive rules and if there is a smallest violation/noncompliance, the business might get sanctions/restrictions, etc. at the same time, without any doubt, there are certain reasons to pay attention to workplace safety.
In 2013, 1134 people were killed and another 2500 got injured in Rana Plaza Incident in Bangladesh. Similarly, in 2015, it is estimated that each week 93 individuals got killed on the job and 3% of them had been seriously harmed or got sick. By conducting a proper investigation it was found that most of these deaths and injuries were preventable
Workplace safety programs have been in place for long and safety professionals have been monitoring and managing it, but there was more needed to control the incidents.
Workers Consultation Programs:
It is human nature to get involved in things and have a say in something and workers are no different. Humans intend to cooperate and willingly get involved more if they consider that their voice is being heard and taken into consideration.
Workers are the once,, who are involved in the workplace most of their time and they have the most know how of the operations, hazards from them, and how it can be controlled without disturbing the operation. This type of understanding and knowledge of hazards might not be considered in any controls or training conducted by management so it can be utilized somehow to contribute positively.
Adopted by multiple customers, this is a free and voluntary consultation program that is designed to assist organizations to identify and mitigate workplace hazards causing a reduction in serious injuries and deaths related to workplace hazards.
Workers consultation and participation have become part of the ISO standard (ISO 45001-2018 – Clause 5.4).
There is certain type of customer compliance requirements that ask organizations to develop joint workers councils for this purpose.
The worker’s consultation is sought in below mentioned areas:
- Consultation in case of defining policies of organization
- Suggestion schemes
- Use of new materials
- Reviewing the current safety arrangement and opportunism of improvements
- For training and development
- Workplace or working methods changing
- Safety performance evaluation
- Participation in hazard and risk assessments
- Incident/accident investigation – that show, actually what, how, where, when the incident happened
- To share roles and responsibilities of workers
- To share legal and standard compliance requirements
In most countries, workers consultation and participation is sought through labor unions, trade unions, etc.
Means of Workers consultation:
Workers consultation and participation can be encouraged through various means as follows:
- Labor Unions (Collective Bargaining Agents)
- Formal meetings
- Suggestion and complaint boxes
- Training sessions
- Tool box talks
- Internal audits interviews
How Consultation and Participation is Encouraged:
- Maintain a proper and continues channel of communication with workers
- Make time and resources availability
- Conduct employees satisfaction surveys
- Involve leadership
- Keep things simple
- Communicate benefits of consultation and participation
- Hold managers accountable
How to achieve outcomes:
- Establish OHS committee including workers and management
- Install suggestion boxes
- Training and development
- Include OHS in management meetings
- Share outcomes of OHS performance with workers
Through worker’s consultation and participation, an organization can comfortably achieve its OHS objectives and targets and bring real time improvements.