Safetip #137: Consult Workers on Workplace Changes
Changes Can Introduce New Hazards or Increase Risks
A change introduced in the workplace can also introduce a new hazard or increase a risk. A change can be either the introduction of something new, or a modification to something that’s already there. Changes can include, but are not limited to:
- A change in a work process or workflow.
- A change in machinery, equipment or tools.
- A change in a workstation or the physical layout of the workplace.
- A change in materials or chemicals used in the workplace.
- A change in personnel, work teams or work organization (e.g. are new workers or workers new to a task aware of existing risks?)
Before moving forward with the change, you should perform an assessment to determine if a new hazard would be introduced, or if exposure to an existing hazard would be modified, which could increase the likelihood of an injury or illness. Workplace inspections can help identify potential safety and health issues.
There Are Many Ways to Consult Workers
Workers can also provide valuable input. Before making an important change in the workplace, consult with workers as part of the evaluation of the planned change for potential hazards and risks. There are different methods that can be used, including:
- Focus Groups: There should be less than 10 persons per focus group. A group should include employees who will be impacted by the change. Ideally managers/supervisors and employees should be in separate groups to make sure that employees freely speak their minds.
- One-on-One Interviews: Unlike focus groups, interviews take more time, but could provide more detailed information. Also, some people are more comfortable providing input in a one-on-one setting than a focus group.
- Surveys: Surveys require less time and resources than focus groups or interviews, and can be sent to any number of employees. Also, an anonymous survey can lead to a higher response rate and more honest feedback.
You can also use a combination of two methods.
Finally, consider the use of Management of Change software to centralize and manage all change requests throughout the organization. MOC software can be a powerful tool to ensure that all steps required before initiating a change, including consultation with workers, are completed.
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