Who Is Responsible for Workplace Safety? (Hint: It's Not Obvious)

Who Is Responsible for Workplace Safety? (Hint: It’s Not Obvious)

Safety undoubtedly should be a core value in any organization, especially high-risk or high-pressure environments. Whether you're the owner of the business or an entry-level employee, you have a role to play in organizational safety.

However, each worker's safety duties will vary based on the role they play in the company. The following information explains who is responsible for safety in the workplace and gives a general overview of each party's role

Who Is Responsible for Safety in the Workplace?

Businesses have a legal obligation to create a safe work environment for all employees. This obligation is the result of the notorious Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). The safety organization OSHA was enacted in 1970 to rectify the random patchwork of individual states laws that attempted to address workplace safety.

OSHA was also designed to respond to the increasing number of deaths and serious injuries occurring in the workplace. OSHA is managed by the United States Department of Labor under the supervision of the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health

As long as there are no accidents on your job site, you may never hear from or see safety inspectors or federal health agents. However, when an accident occurs and your business is found in violation of OSHA safety rules, the outcome of the event can be significantly compounded.

In addition to potentially failing to meet obligations to your customers and other consequences of the accident, you may be required to pay hefty government fines along with other costs. Instead of having to deal with this unfavorable outcome, it makes dollars and sense to understand your legal responsibilities that apply to practically every employers. In the end, the employer is ultimately responsible for safety.

The Role of Employers and Company Leaders

The leaders of the organization are the individuals who create the company's policies, including the safety management system. If your industry requires certain safety practices or equipment, the employer is required to ensure the guidelines are followed.

The employer is also responsible for ensuring all workers have access to the information necessary to implement the safety mechanisms. This includes government-mandated safety posters and special training programs. It may also include vital information included in the employee handbook or a safety brochure.

In addition, employers must keep a strict record of all injuries on the worksite. Any serious health issues are required to be reported to the Occupational Health & Safety Administration or OSHA.

Management & Supervisors Safety Responsibilities

Since management or supervisors witness the day-to-day operations, these professionals are the obvious choice for implementing the safety practices. Whether it's a safety checklist or administering safety tests, management must be the leaders in safety initiatives.

Anytime an employee violates a safety policy or when a piece of equipment breaks down, management should either fix the problem or report it to the proper department. However, this dynamic can range from organization to organization based on the company polices.

Some businesses incorporate a "top-down" model, which requires any problems to be handled by the organization's leaders, while other businesses allow managers to have more control over their respective departments. In the latter case, it's up to management to deliver punishments or solutions as needed.

Trainers and Inspectors in Safety

Anytime an organization has safety policies instituted, there has to be a way employees get updates and learn the policies. In most organizations, these special duties fall into the laps of an inspector or trainer. Many factories with complex construction projects or large equipment use trainers and inspectors to manage the daily safety activities of the workforce.

Safety trainers and management can be the same people. In either case, these professionals are on the ground in the capacity of training and monitoring the activities of the workers. An inspector or trainer may work relatively closely with workers and inform them when they're in violation of a safety policy.

Individual Safety Roles of Employees

Although the bulk of the responsibility falls on employers and management, everyone in the organization plays a role in preventing workplace accidents. The workers are primarily responsible for following the organization's safety policies and procedures, which could be as simple as wearing safety glass.

Employees involvement could also include reporting another fellow worker in the event they violate a safety rule and place themselves or others at risk. Workers should also attend any required training sessions to help the organization stay in compliance with safety regulations.

Contact Premier Safety Partners for Innovative Safety Solutions

In the end, employers are responsible for safety in the workplace, but everyone has a role to play. Without a holistic buy-in from everyone in organization - this task is virtually impossible. The ultimate goal is for all stakeholders to work together in the seamless creation of a comprehensive culture of safety.

The health and safety professionals at Premier Safety Partners bring decades of experience helping business owners mitigate risks and create safe working environments. We have workshops for all levels of an organization that helps build the foundation a sustainable culture of safety excellence.

Contact Premier Safety Partners today to schedule a complimentary safety consultation.

About the Author

Scott Ray is an industry leader in Health and Safety. Recognized for his business acumen and innovative approach, Scott has a track record in successfully implementing H&S systems that result in fostering a culture of operational excellence. His 25 year Health and Safety career includes both technical and leadership experience within diverse industries including energy/utilities, manufacturing, higher education, construction, defense and aerospace.