No one is solely responsible for workplace health and safety. Why? Because it is simply too big of a task for a single person. That's why the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) expects business owners, supervisors, managers, staff, and contractors to share responsibility on all levels within an organization.
However, the responsibilities are not shared equally since staff in different roles can have other health and safety duties to uphold. For instance, business owners have more responsibility than their employees as they are held accountable for the safety and well-being of their staff.
There are several general responsibilities of every employee that can ensure the health and safety of everyone in the workplace if followed. They are:
- Understanding the workplace health and safety requirements;
- Being prepared to respond in the event of a workplace injury or emergency;
- Being alert for hazards;
- Regularly inspecting equipment and the workplace;
- Reporting immediately unsafe work practices and conditions to supervisors;
- Reporting accidents, near misses, injuries, and illnesses immediately to supervisors;
- Following safe work practices and procedures;
- Cooperating with others on matters relating to occupational safety and health.
The level of importance management personnel place on the safety of their employees has a direct impact on the entire organization. Health and safety management responsibilities include:
- Putting in the work to determine the causes of a failure, no matter the severity or consequences;
- Identifying gaps that could lead to improved working conditions and/or management abilities;
- Leading with the appropriate demeanor;
- Celebrating victories of all sizes (this encourages and inspires employees to continue meeting safety expectations).
Supervisors are directly responsible for the safety and health of employees that they direct or supervise. Their responsibilities include:
- Leading by example;
- Ensuring the health and safety of employees under direct supervision;
- Knowing safety requirements that apply to the work being supervised and ensuring they are followed;
- Ensuring employees are aware of all known health and safety hazards at their workplace;
- Providing orientation and training to new and existing employees;
- Consulting and cooperating with the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee members or worker representatives;
- Ensuring that appropriate personal protective equipment and clothing are available, worn when required, and inspected and maintained;
- Investigating unsafe conditions that were reported and ensuring that corrective measures are taken;
- Ensuring employees are following all safety measures.
Responsibilities of Executives
Executives are responsible for:
- Ensuring a strong workplace safety culture is established and supported at the highest level throughout the organization;
- Caring about employees, seeing them as a person with value and meaning, not like a replaceable thing;
- Establishing the overall expectations for safety within the organization and providing the means for maintaining those expectations;
- Establishing safety policies and expectations for the entire organization;
- Ensuring all operations are considering the health and safety of employees;
- Establishing and communicating occupational safety and health plans and goals;
- Monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the occupational health and safety program, including a regular review of safety statistics;
- Acknowledging all health and safety concerns of employees.
When everyone in the organization knows and understands the roles and responsibilities of everyone else on the team, then synergy is enhanced, and the goal of establishing and maintaining a safe work environment is easily achievable.