Safetip #97: Barriers to Participation in a Safety Program

September 20, 2017
By Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

This week’s Safetip is about removing or addressing any potential barriers or obstacles to worker participation in a safety & health program. The best practice is highlighted by OSHA in its Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs document, which provides a framework for addressing safety and health issues in diverse workplaces. The recommended practices can be used in any workplace and any type of industry.

Actions to Remove Barriers to Participation

The Recommended Practices document describes seven core elements of a safety and health program, including worker participation. One of the parts of the worker participation element consists of removing barriers to participation.

To participate meaningfully in the program, workers must feel that their input is welcome, their voices will be heard, and they can access reporting mechanisms. OSHA’s Recommended Practices highlight the following actions to remove barriers to participation:

  • Ensure that workers from all levels of the organization can participate regardless of their skill level, education, or language.
  • Provide frequent and regular feedback to show employees that their safety and health concerns are being heard and addressed.
  • Authorize sufficient time and resources to facilitate worker participation. For example, hold safety and health meetings during regular working hours.
  • Ensure that the program protects workers from being retaliated against for reporting injuries, illnesses, and hazards; participating in the program; or exercising their safety and health rights.
  • Ensure that other policies and programs do not discourage worker participation. For example, make sure incident investigations focus on root causes rather than blame.
  • Post the 11(c) fact sheet on whistleblower complaints in the workplace or make it available for easy access by workers.
  • Design incentive programs (e.g. point systems, awards, prizes, and bonuses) in a manner that does not discourage injury and illness reporting, otherwise hazards may remain undetected.

Visit Enablon Insights again on Wednesday October 4, 2017 for a new Safetip!

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