HR’s Role in Safety & Risk Management
Human Resources professionals and Safety professionals share many of the same objectives of risk management for their organizations, including:
- Legal compliance with federal, state, and city government
- Creation of a strong culture of teamwork and support
- An efficient, productive, and safe work environment
- A trained workforce with continuous improvement
- Retention of experienced workers
- Control of costs and liability
- Employee participation with ideas and solutions
- Engaged, supportive leadership involvement
There is also overlap in certain functions, such as policy development, training, and workers’ compensation management, as well as a strong connection with harassment and bullying prevention, performance management, and promotional opportunities. A safety-minded culture creates the best risk management and it needs to be supported across rules, individual assessments, compensation plans, and people in supervisory roles.
For example, if an employee is very productive with strong technical skills, he or she will often be considered for promotional opportunities. But what if he or she is not particular about following required PPE rules? For example, he or she is often found not wearing safety glasses? Or he or she tends to skip a safety step here and there in the interest of time? If this person is then promoted to a supervisory role – without a strong safety philosophy – what kind of example does that display for his or her new subordinates? What kind of training will he or she focus on?
Another example is an incentive program designed to raise productivity that could emphasize production over safety performance. My grandmother’s old adage, “Haste makes waste” comes to mind. Not only can costly accidents happen along with all of the resulting complications, a feeling that management is not concerned about their workers’ health and safety can arise. Once workers feel they are not your priority, you’ll see everything else slip.
Given these commonalities, Human Resources and Safety would be wise to partner together to support not only one another, but the people they are charged with caring for and their organization’s long-term viability.
If you currently have a bit of separation with each other, I encourage you to reach out and invite the other for a coffee and collaboration.