Are you looking to make your OHS policies better?  Here are some responsibilities as an employer and as an employee that need to be considered.

Before setting in motion any of your health and safety activities, you need to be deliberate about determining the responsibilities of each person involved in the activities of your company. Otherwise, instead of being proactive, you will find yourself ever reactive in improving your OHS policies. Your organization probably has a person in-charge of health and safety, it may be a dedicated health and safety manager, an OHS rep or a volunteer OHS assistant, but whatever the case, it’s virtually impossible for one person to shoulder the whole responsibility of OHS management. Everyone needs to be involved in some way.

While everyone in the organization has a role to play, by properly delegating responsibilities at each level of your company, you will be more efficient in achieving a safe environment. To clearly outline how responsibilities can be allotted, let’s hypothetically imagine your company structure as having three arms; the workforce; mid-managers or supervisors; and the top management. Let the workforce or employees be the people who carry out the everyday duties of the company, depending on the industry, these may be termed “labor force”. The mid-managers or supervisors are first line superintendents who observe and direct the execution of work or activities whereas top management is a team of professionals responsible for controlling and regulating company resources.

Apart from ensuring equipment is properly and efficiently inspected, providing training to new workers and understanding and enforcing the incident prevention policies, mid and top managers have other responsibilities, however, before we look at these duties or responsibilities, here is a list of basic responsibilities of an employee:

  • Use of all employer prescribed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and safety equipment
  • Follow all company safety procedures
  • Be acquainted and comply with all OHS regulations
  • Report any injury or illness immediately and correctly
  • Report unsafe acts and unsafe conditions, even those suspected as unsafe, and
  • Participate in all health and safety talks and seminars

Equally, the first line supervisors have a role to play. Here now is a list of some more responsibilities that fall under this office;

  • Instruct employees to observe safe work practices
  • Enforce all OHS guidelines
  • Correct all unsafe practices and unsafe work conditions
  • Make sure that only authorized and adequately trained workers operate machinery
  • Report and investigate all incidents
  • Carry out all remedial actions to minimize or eliminate hazards
  • Ensure equipment is well maintained
  • Promote safety mindfulness in workers

Finally, let’s now look at some responsibilities that come directly under the office of top level managers;

  • Arrange for a healthy and safe workplace
  • Institute and maintain health and safety programs
  • Ensure workers are trained and certified in OHS practices like first aid administration
  • Report incidents and cases of occupational malady to the relevant regulatory authorities
  • Provide medical and first aid facilities
  • Ensure Personal Protective Equipment is available to all employees
  • Provide workers with all relevant health and safety materials and information
  • Support supervisors in their OHS activities
  • Evaluate the OHS performance of supervisors

Whether a manager or workforce member, you can’t be everywhere at once, it’s therefore, necessary to have a safety management system in place. And for such a system to work, all employers and employees need to acquaint themselves with their responsibilities and duties, besides being acquainted, it’s imperative that both employers and employees are diligent in performing their duties and responsibilities.