Safety in the workplace used to be one of the most relevant issues about organizational environment. This point is based on outstandingly negative and even tragic consequences that can be caused by improper keeping of safety standards and guidelines. Considering that appropriate subject was deeply researched by numerous scholars and remains strongly regulated by laws, it looks surprising that there are a lot of examples of real life organizational safety neglect. In this paper we’ll try to evaluate widely spread violations in work places in the aspect of commonly known highest standards’ of safety breaking.
As it was already noticed, society witnessed numerous interesting works about safety in organizations. The biggest part of authors are solid that appropriate task can be solved with fundamental approach, when all kinds of stakeholders are tied with one aim and endowed with inherent to their status responsibilities. However, some writers present pretty reasonable opinion that proper safety at organization is the task of management at the first hand. For example, Roughton, J. E. and J. J. Mercurio in “Developing an effective safety culture: a leadership approach” say that only management is capable to direct companies’ intention towards proper safety at workplaces establishment. Managment principles explored in noticed book include next positions: leading by example, communicating change effectively, generating shared goals to get the organization moving in the same direction, and providing visible leadership. Respectful scholars outline the need for employee participation as well noting that organizations are more social than individual by nature (Roughton, J.E., Mercurio J.J.). As for the practical guidelines concerning safety keeping, the system of management and control include three points: Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment, Risk Control. Let’s make some brief notes about each of mentioned items.Hazard Identification is a kind of activity directed to find out factors that could bring harm to stakeholders. Depending on business specific, organizational environment may involve next types of them: mechanical, fall-related, lifting-related, pressure, sound, noise and vibration, heat, cold and temperature, fire, explosion, electrical, chemical, biological, toxic, carcinogenic and otherwise harmful substances, radiation, automation, ergonomic, and human and psychosocial factors (Wiliams, H.).
Risk assessing include work aimed to foresee what are the chances that hazard will bring harm to stakeholders. To deal with this task, there is general recommendation to answer two simple questions – how likely is it that the hazard could harm me or some other stakeholders? how badly could I or other stakeholders be harmed?Risk control suggests that organization needs changes to eliminate or reduce the effects of found hazards. Mostly, this part lies in domain of employers’ responsibility. However, employees also should contribute this goal achievement feasibly. The main problem here is often met organizations’ inability rid hazards totally. In such cases, it is important to decrease the probability of hazards effect maximally. Generally, next steps can be provided at this part: Elimination, Substitution, Isolation, Safeguards, Instructing workers in the safest way to do something, and Using personal protective equipment and clothing (PPE) (Williams, H.).
Being clear with the main guidelines about safety management, let’s make some evaluations on the base of special example presented by Marc M. Rosen. There is the talk about Canadian manufacturer of automotive global company with headquarters in Canada. It was always known for pretty reasonable practices in part of organizational safety. However, including both automatic and manual working forces this company experienced several violations during the time of scholar’s observations:
a) In an assembly area that was installed recently, workers have to bend to the groundthroughout the day to attach several small parts onto a large and heavy vehicle component. Some workers have begun to develop lower back pain, likely due to therepetitive bending. The manual force was not replaced with automatic equipment due economic inappropriateness (Rosen, M.).b) High level of respiratory illnesses among employees.Used in the booths (paints, solvents, etc.) are known to be causes of the observed respiratory illnesses. Butthe workers are not supposed to come into contact with any of the substances because the paint-spray booths are designed to ensure that all materials exit the plant through a highcapacity ventilation system. As it was found, the effect of hazard was caused by not tested ventilation, which was in poor condition (Rosen, M.).
c) In an area of the plant where metal cutting occurs and workers use protective eyewear, workers have reported minor eye injuries. The area in question is one where it is common knowledge that the workers do not routinely use the protective eyewear. Workers complain that they find the protective eyewear uncomfortable and do not think it is needed or important (Rosen, M.). Now let’s compare noted case and best world practices that correspond guidelines of safety at organizations keeping. This comparison will help to emphasize controversies between general principles of safety management and practices of above noted case. As for the first violation, there is the gap in risk control part and Using personal protective equipment and clothing (PPE) particularly. Even considering that manual force could not be replaced by automatic equipment, employers did not use the achievements of ergonomics subject that allow to fit the human body, its movements, and its cognitive abilities. Respiratory diseases can be explained by the violation of best world practices in the part of risk assessment. It looks pretty clear that management did not make the comprehensive list of steps to predict the negative influence of toxic hazards to their employees. At last, the cases of eye injuries among employees is explained by violations of risk control best standards. There is no doubt that management implemented needful measure about using personal protective equipment and clothing (PPE). However, the lack of instructing work is felt there. Speaking frankly, analyzed case is useful to support the idea of Roughton, J. E. and J. J. Mercurio who stated that safety at workplaces keeping is the task of management mostly. Each of three violations is not only the example of risk management guidelines’ violation, each of them can serve as a visionary aid of employers irresponsible behavior to attitude towards own duties. As it was stated at the beginning of this paper, there are several needful items to say that organization’s management is conscientiously approached towards main goal of safety establishment. Provided evaluation showed that formal approach to safety management generates inevitable violations that cannot correspond the highest standards.
Rosen, M. (2006).“Engineering Health and Safety Module and Case Studies”, 4p. Retrieved from http://www.safetymanagementeducation.com/en/data/files/download/Documents/engineering%20hs%20module.pdf
Roughton, J. E. and J. J. Mercurio (2002). Developing an effective safety culture : a leadership approach. Boston, Butterworth-Heinemann.
Williams, H.A.H. “10 Steps to a Safer Workplace.” HR Focus 74, no. 2 (1997): 9–10.