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After studying this chapter, students should be able to understand the following:

A. Explain Elements of Workplace Safety and Health


We begin this chapter by describing the nature and role of safety and health and provide an overview of the

Occupational Safety and Health Act. Organizations realize the importance of social responsibility and that

safe organizations are more effective organizations. Moreover, the law requires that the workplace be safe

and free of health hazards. Thus, many firms seek to provide a workplace environment that is safe and

healthy. This chapter presents workplace safety and health in detail. First, it deals with the legal issues of

workplace safety and health. Second, it presents a variety of contemporary safety and health issues. Finally,

the chapter evaluates programs designed to maintain employee safety and health.

A. Elements of Workplace Safety and Health

Safety: Involves protecting employees from injuries due to work-related accidents.

Health: Refers to the employees’ freedom from physical or emotional illness.

Safety programs may be designed to accomplish their purposes in two primary ways. The first approach is

to create a psychological environment and attitudes that promote safety. A strong company policy

emphasizing safety and health is crucial. The second approach to safety program design is to develop and

maintain a safe physical working environment.

Physical Conditions: Conditions resulting from the workplace environment that include

occupational diseases and accidents, such as:

Repetitive motion injuries

Back pain

Cancer Etc.

Psychological Conditions: Conditions resulting from the workplace environment that result from

organizational stress and low quality of working life. These include:

Dissatisfaction, withdrawal

Mistrust in others, irritability

I. Safety Programs

Today, it has become clear that optimal health can generally be achieved through environmental safety,

organizational changes, and different lifestyles.

a. Developing Safety Programs—Organizational safety programs require planning for

prevention of workplace accidents. Plans may be relatively simple or more complex and

highly sophisticated in order to fit the organization’s size. Top management’s support is

essential if safety programs are to be effective. Tremendous economic losses can result

from accidents.

1. Job hazard analysis: The main goal of safety and health professionals is to

prevent job-related injuries and illnesses.

2. The Superfund Amendments Reauthorization Act, Title III (SARA): SARA

requires businesses to communicate more openly about the hazards associated with the materials they use

and produce and the wastes they generate.

3. Employee involvement: One way to strengthen a safety program is to include

employee input, which provides workers with a sense of accomplishment.

b. Accident Investigation—Accidents can happen even in the most safety-conscious firms.

Each accident, whether or not it results in an injury, should be carefully evaluated to

determine its cause and to ensure that it doesn’t recur. The safety engineer and the line

manager jointly investigate accidents—why, how, and where they occur and who is

involved. Main causes that can create accidents at workplace are:

Chance occurrences

Unsafe working conditions

Unsafe acts by employees

Unsafe conditions

􀂾 Physical conditions

Defective Equipment

Inadequate Machine Guards

Lack of Protective Equipment

􀂾 Environmental conditions


Dust, Fumes


Unsafe behaviors

c. Evaluation of Safety Programs—Perhaps the best indicator that a safety program is

succeeding is a reduction in the frequency and severity of injuries and illnesses.

d. Rationale for Safety and Health Trends—Firms are spending an increasing amount of

money on safety. Reasons include; (1) profitability—employees can produce only while

they are on the job, (2) employee relations—firms with good safety records can attract and

retain good employees, (3) reduced liability—an effective safety program can reduce

corporate and executive liability, (4) marketing—a good safety record may well provide

companies with a competitive edge, and productivity—(5) an effective safety program may

boost morale and productivity while simultaneously reducing rising costs.

II. Ways to manage Safe and Healthy environment in organization

To cope with physical hazards and other hazards such as stress, unsafe behavior, and poor health habits,

employers often design comprehensive safety and health programs. Among these are safety programs,

employee assistance programs, and wellness programs.

a. Safety Programs

A safe working environment does not just happen; it has to be created. The organizations with the best

reputations for safety have developed well-planned and thorough safety programs.

b. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

EAPs are programs designed to help employees whose job performance is suffering because of physical,

mental, or emotional problems.

c. Wellness Programs

As health care costs have skyrocketed over the last two decades, organizations have become more interested

in preventative programs. A complete wellness program has three components:

It helps employees identify potential health risks through screening and testing.

It educates employees about health risks such as high blood pressure, smoking,

poor diet, and stress.

It encourages employees to change their lifestyles through exercise, good

nutrition, and health monitoring.

d. Smoking in The work place

Numerous studies have concluded that workplace smoking not only is hazardous to employees’ health, but

also is detrimental to the firm’s financial health. Increased costs of insurance premiums, higher absenteeism,

and lost productivity cost huge amount a year. These factors, along with rising opposition from nonsmokers

and widespread local and state laws, have spurred many firms into action, and the trend continues.

􀂾 The rewards of good health habits

Effective safety programs share the following features:

They include the formation of safety committee and participation by all departments

within the company. Employees participate in safety decision and management carefully

considers employee suggestions for improving safety.

They communicate safety with a multimedia approach that includes safety lectures, films,

poster, pamphlets, and computer presentations.

They use incentives, rewards, and positive reinforcement to encourage safe behavior.

They communicate safety rules and enforce them.

They use safety directors and/or the safety committee to engage in regular self-inspection

and accident research to identify potentially dangerous situations, and to understand why

accidents occur and how to correct them.

III. Policies to prevent workplace violence

Every organization should have a two-pronged policy in place to (a) prevent workplace violence and (b) to

deal with violent incidents when they occur. An HR manager's major responsibility is to be certain that

selection policies include careful screening and reference checking. Furthermore, the HR manager should

take the lead to enforce policies pertaining to the fair treatment of employees. This may require training

managers to recognize performance problems, refer troubled employees for counseling, and apply

disciplinary procedures consistently.

IV. Cumulative Trauma Disorders

CTDs are also called repetitive stress (or motion or strain) injuries (or illnesses or syndromes). CTDs do

not refer to only one disorder but to a wide array of maladies ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome to tennis

elbow. The number of workers with CTDs has risen dramatically in recent years.

V. Benefits of a Safe and Healthy Workforce

More productivity

Increased efficiency and quality

Reduced medical and insurance costs

Lower workers’ compensation rates and payments

Greater workforce flexibility

VI. The HRM Department and Employee Safety and Health

HRM department can help organizations and employers by performing tasks like:

Develop safety and health programs.

Select safety and health programs.

Evaluate safety and health programs.

Ensure legal compliance.

Incorporate safety and health concerns in HRM practices.

Key Terms

Safety Involves protecting employees from injuries due to work-related accidents.

Health Refers to the employees’ freedom from physical or emotional illness.

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