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Course 716 - Safety Management System Evaluation

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_____50. Top management values employee involvement and participation in safety and health issues.

Discussion

  • Assessment of this element should begin with interviews with management or staff to determine what, if any, process has been established for employee input on safety and health issues. An effective process for employee involvement should provide for (1) the solicitation of input, (2) the receipt of input, and (3) the acknowledgment of input. The established process may provide a single way or multiple avenues for soliciting, receiving, and acknowledging employee inputs.
  • Common methods for soliciting input are postings, paycheck flyers, e-mail postings, chain-of-command distributions, and company-wide meetings. Common standing methods of receiving employee inputs on safety and health issues are chain-of-command reporting, managerial open-door policies, suggestion boxes, organizational e-mail systems, and direct reporting to the safety director or safety and health committee.
  • A highly effective way of both soliciting and receiving employee input is to ensure that employees are represented in small group meetings where safety and health issues are discussed. Safety committees are one example of this approach. In evaluating the process that provides acknowledgment, it is important to remember that any acknowledgment message should not only confirm that the employee input was received, but it should also provide feedback to the employee concerning how the information or suggestion was used. There is no single best way to achieve employee input on safety and health issues.
  • Much depends on the culture of your organization and the management styles of the managers. The best system is the one that works for your organization.
  • Information obtained in assessing Attributes 51 through 53 (which pertain to employee involvement in specific safety and health issues) may also be relevant to the assessment of this element.

_____51. Employees are involved in organizational decision-making in regard to safety and health policy.

Discussion

  • The term "involved" means that the thoughts, suggestions, concerns, objections, or support of employees concerning safety and health policy issues are sought, obtained, and considered by policy makers before decisions are made. It does not mean, or suggest, that employees should be allowed to usurp the decision-making authority that is vested in management.
  • Assessment of this element should begin with interviews of management, particularly the top manager. During these interviews, the evaluator should ask the managers to identify major safety and health policies that have been adopted by your organization and describe how employee involvement influenced these decisions. The top management policy setting safety and health as an organizational value and any policies regarding positive or negative motivations for safety and health should be included in the discussion.
  • If the interviews with managers reveal effective employee involvement in policy-making decisions, each example of such involvement may support a confirming cue for evaluating this element. Negating cues are indicated where there is evidence that policy-making lacks employee involvement. Confirming or negating information may be obtained for both types of cues by interviews with other personnel.

_____52. Employees are involved in organizational decision-making in regard to the allocation of safety and health resources.

Discussion

  • The term "involved" means that the thoughts, suggestions, concerns, objections, or support of employees regarding allocation of safety and health resources are sought, obtained, and considered before decisions are made. It does not mean, or suggest, that employees should be allowed to usurp the decision-making authority that is vested in management.
  • Assessment of this element should begin with interviews of management, particularly the top manager. During these interviews, the evaluator should ask the managers to identify resource allocations for safety and health and describe how employee involvement influenced these decisions. The discussion might include allocation of all or any of the following resources: personnel, personnel-effort, supplies, equipment, facilities, or services.
  • If the interviews with managers reveal effective employee involvement in resource allocation for safety and health, each example of such involvement may support a confirming cue for evaluating this element. Negating cues are indicated where there is evidence that the decisions surrounding safety and health resource allocations lack employee involvement. Confirming or negating information may be obtained for both types of cues by interviews with other personnel.

_____53. Employees are involved in organizational decision-making in regard to safety.

Discussion

  • The term "involved" means that the thoughts, suggestions, concerns, objections, or support of employees concerning issues related to safety and health training are sought, obtained, and considered before decisions are made. It does not mean, or suggest, that employees should be allowed to usurp the decision-making authority that is vested in management.
  • Assessment of this element should begin with interviews of management, particularly the top manager. During these interviews, the evaluator should ask the managers to identify safety and health training decisions that have been made by your organization and describe how employee involvement influenced these decisions. Training decisions include decisions to provide training as well as decisions not to provide training. Training decisions may involve the training topic, who will deliver the training and how, who will receive the training, and when and where.
  • If the interviews with managers reveal effective employee involvement in safety and health training decisions, each example of such involvement may support a confirming cue for evaluating this element. Negating cues are indicated where there is evidence that the decisions surrounding safety and health training lack employee involvement. Confirming or negating information may be obtained for both types of cues by interviews with other personnel.

_____54. Employees participate in hazard detection activities.

Discussion

  • The term "participate" means that employees are actively engaged in hazard detection activities, preferably on a voluntary basis.
  • Hazard detection activities are the subject of those elements in the Hazard Anticipation and Detection section (Attributes 1 through 10). Assessment of these elements may reveal information that can support an assessment of the present element also.
  • Assessment of this element by interviews can proceed in two ways. The first way is the more systematic approach that focuses on employee participation in a specific hazard detection activity such as inspections. In this case, managers, supervisors, or workers are asked to identify who conducts inspections. In the second approach, selected employees are asked to identify their own participation in hazard detection activities. This approach is particularly suited to activities, such as hazard reporting, that are random in nature.
  • A combination of the approaches will provide the best overall assessment of the element. Each example of employee participation in hazard detection revealed by either interview method constitutes a confirming cue for assessing this element. However, negating cues are established only where employee participation in a hazard detection activity is both lacking and appropriate. For example, expert analysis activities may not require employee participation.
  • Finally, there can be no employee participation if needed hazard detection activities are not being performed at all. These situations represent not only operational deficiencies, but also lost opportunities to stimulate employee participation, and should be considered a strong negating cue for assessing this element.

_____55. Employees participate in hazard prevention and control activities.

Discussion

  • The term "participate" means that employees are actively engaged in hazard prevention and control activities, preferably on a voluntary basis.
  • The activities covered in this element are the subject of those elements in the Hazard Prevention and Control section (Attributes 11 through 19). Assessment of these elements may reveal information that can support an assessment of the present element also.
  • Assessment of this element can be achieved through interviews with managers, supervisors, and workers. Managers or supervisors can be asked to give examples of employee participation in organizational projects such as designing engineered safety and health controls or establishing safe work practices. Interviews with workers can be used to confirm, negate, or expand on the information provided by managers and supervisors. Worker interviews may also reveal the degree to which individuals endorse and adhere to the company‘s established safety and health protections.
  • A confirming cue is established for assessing this element by each example of employee participation in a hazard prevention or control project and by each interview that reveals active commitment to safety and health protections. Negating cues follow from worker interviews that indicated these individuals are not actively committed to established safety and health protections, and from evidence of projects or other organizational efforts addressing safety and health protections that should have, but did not, include employee participation.
  • Evidence that workers voluntarily take personal initiative to prevent risk to themselves and co-workers suggests a strong confirming cue for this element.

_____56. Employees participate in the safety and health training of co-workers.

Discussion

  • Employee participation in safety and health training of co-workers is characteristic of the highest performing safety and health systems, and it contributes incrementally to excellence in these systems once the basic elements, particularly Attributes 34 and 35, are in place.
  • It is unreasonable to expect that every worker in an organization be engaged in some sort of co-worker training, and such an expectation must be excluded in assessment of this element.
  • In most organizations, there are individuals who have the ability and desire (or at least willingness) to help in the development of their co-workers. These individuals often make excellent instructors because of their experience-based credibility. When the subject matter is safety and health, the visibility of an employee instructor adds to the safety and health culture of your organization.
  • Mentoring by an experienced employee can be an especially effective way to instill safety and health in a new employee. The mentoring and coaching activities that take place in an organization are often unofficial and informal. For this reason, interviews with employees are needed to uncover the true extent of employee-provided guidance for safety and health that may be taking place. Confirming cues for this element are suggested when the evaluator ascertains that employees are participating in formal training of their co-workers on safety and health issues.
  • Confirming cues are also indicated when the evaluator determines that employees are engaged in formal or informal mentoring or coaching of new workers with regard to safe and healthful work practices. However, demonstrating a negating cue for this element will be difficult because the decision to participate in training, mentoring, or coaching usually rests with the individual employees and not with your organization.

_____57. Employees participate in safety and health planning activities.

Discussion

  • The term "participate" means that employees are actively engaged in safety and health planning activities.
  • Attribute 22 and Attribute 23 are also concerned with safety and health planning activities. Assessment of these elements may reveal information relevant to assessment of this element as well.
  • Assessment of this element can be achieved through interviews with managers, supervisors, and workers. Managers and supervisors can be asked to identify the major safety and health planning activities undertaken by your organization and describe how employees participate in these activities. The process of setting your organization‘s safety and health goal and supporting objectives and the process used to develop an action plan should be included in the discussion. If any safety and health benchmarking activities have been undertaken by your organization, these activities should also be discussed in the interviews. Information obtained from interviews with managers or supervisors can be confirmed, negated, or expanded through interviews with other personnel.
  • Each example, derived from the interviews, of employee participation in safety and health planning activities constitutes a confirming cue for assessment of this element. Each example of a safety and health planning activity conducted without employee participation is a negating cue. When an organization does not conduct the activities necessary to produce the critical safety and health planning products - goal, objectives, and action plan - this is a sure indication that employees are not participating in planning activities, and is a strong negating cue for assessing this element.

_____58. Employees participate in safety and health planning activities.

Discussion

  • Attributes 20, 21, 24, and 25 are also concerned with evaluation of organizational safety and health performance. Assessment of these elements may yield information relevant to assessment of this element as well.
  • Assessment of this element can be achieved through interviews with managers, supervisors, and workers. Managers and supervisors can be asked to identify the major safety and health evaluation activities undertaken by your organization and describe how employees participate in those activities. The annual comprehensive review, review of OSHA-mandated programs, and analyses of injury/illness data or hazard incidence data are examples of evaluation activities that should be discussed. Information obtained from interviews with managers and supervisors can be confirmed, negated, or expanded through interviews with other personnel.
  • Each example, derived from the interviews, of employee participation in safety and health evaluation activities constitutes a confirming cue for assessment of this element. Each example of a safety and health evaluation activity conducted without employee participation is a negating cue. When an organization does not conduct evaluations of its safety and health performance, this is a sure indication that employees are not participating in evaluation activities and a strong negating cue for assessing this element.