The question – Who is responsible for workplace health and safety is a simple, but complex question.
According to the Internal Responsibility System (IRS) – Everyone is Responsible for workplace health and safety, but it is not that simple.
If we say everyone is responsible for workplace health and safety, does it mean that everyone acts when there are safety concerns?
This is the complex question.
Lets clarify this:
When we say “Everyone is responsible“, it means everyone has a part to play in safety issues no matter how minute it may be. The statement “Everyone is responsible” is an umbrella statement like the statement of intent of the health and safety policy which has to be further broken down for better understanding.
In every workplace, we have the Employer and the Employees. Both parties have a responsibility under the Health and safety at work act.
Though employee are graded, from top management personnel to the least worker; all of them are employees.
In as much as everyone is responsible, there are specific responsibilities for the different quarters – The employer and Employees.
Lets get into the different responsibilities for the different quarters:
The employers are saddled with the duty of care for all their employees, and they could be held accountable for any safety breach under their watch.
Here are the major Employers responsibilities
- Employers have duties under health and safety act to assess risks in their workplace, and draw out measures to manage the identified risks.
- Employers must give employees information about the risks in the workplace and how to protected their employees.
- Employers must consult employees on health and safety issues.
- Employers must create and implement policies and procedures that support the safety initiatives and goals of the organization.
- Train all workers on the health and safety program and specific job-related tasks, hazards, and safe operating procedures.
- Support safety initiatives
- Lead by example
- Inspect the workplace for unsafe conditions and respond promptly to them.
- Maintain work equipment, keeping them in good condition.
- Providing Personal Protective Equipment.
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I mentioned earlier that employees are at different grades, from top management staff to the lest worker. All the categories of employees are covered under the employees responsibilities.
As the employers have the duty of care, all employees have the duty of responsibility.
Generally, employees have the following duties:
- Workers have a duty to take care of their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by their act or omissions at work.
- Workers must co-operate with employers and co-workers to help everyone meet their legal requirements.
- As a worker, if you have specific queries or concerns relating to health and safety in your workplace, talk to your employer, manager/supervisor or a health and safety representative.
- Make use of all safety equipment or safety gears provided for their safety.
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The top management staff (Managers/Supervisors/Departmental heads) can also be allotted extra responsibilities aside from the general responsibilities as an employee from their employers, to ensure the overall the safety for all occupants of the work environment and the environment.
Some duties of top management staff (Managers, Supervisors, Departmental Heads, etc.) could include:
- Ensuring workers work in compliance with health and safety policies and procedures, and the Act
- Ensure that PPE are provided and are release to workers when need arise.
- May be saddled with responsibilities involving emergency management based on their level of competence.
- Ensuring that PPE provided are worn when necessary and correctly.
- Offering training and education about potential or actual hazards.
- Advice the employer on issues pertaining to health and safety
- Serve as a middles person who could transmit the workers safety concerns to the employers, etc.
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In conclusion, from the question – “Who is responsible for workplace health and safety”?
Safety is everyone’s responsibility. So, which ever position you see yourself in any organization, you have a safety responsibility, be it the general responsibility or specific responsibility.
Try to understand your safety responsibility.