OSHA Handbook for Small Businesses

Management Commitment and Employee Involvement

Management Commitment and Employee Involvement

As the owner or manager of a small business, your attitude towards job safety and health will be reflected by your employees. If you are not interested in preventing employee injury and illness, nobody else is likely to be.

At all times, demonstrate your personal concern for employee safety and health and the priority you place on them in your workplace. Your policy must be clearly set. Only you can show its importance through your own actions.

Demonstrate to your employees the depth of your commitment by involving them in planning and carrying out your efforts. If you seriously involve your employees in identifying and resolving safety and health problems, they will commit their unique insights and energy to helping achieve the goal and objectives of your program.

Consider forming a joint employee-management safety committee. This can assist you in starting a program and will help maintain interest in the program once it is operating. Committees can be an excellent way of communicating safety and health information. If you have few employees, consider rotating them so that all can have an active part in the safety and health programming. The men and women who work for you are among the most valuable assets you have. Their safety, health, and goodwill are essential to the success of your business. Having them cooperate with you in protecting their safety and health not only helps to keep them healthy—it makes your job easier.

As a small business employer, you have inherent advantages, such as close contact with your employees, a specific acquaintance with the problems of the whole business, and usually a low worker turnover. Probably you have already developed a personal relationship of loyalty and cooperation that can be built upon very easily. These advantages may not only increase your concern for your employees but also may make it easier to get their help.

Here are some actions to take:

  • Post your own policy on the importance of worker safety and health next to the OSHA workplace poster where all employees can see it. (See sample policy statements in Appendix B.)
  • Hold a meeting with all your employees to communicate that policy to them and to discuss your objectives for safety and health for the rest of the year. (These objectives will result from the decisions you make about changes you think are needed after you finish reading this publication.)
  • Make sure that support from the top is visible by taking an active part, personally, in the activities that are part of your safety and health program. For example, personally review all inspection and accident reports to ensure followup when needed.
  • Ensure that you, your managers, and supervisors follow all safety requirements that employees must follow, even if you are only in their area briefly. If, for instance, you require a hard hat, safety glasses and/or safety shoes in an area, wear them yourself when you are in that area.
  • Use your employees' special knowledge and help them buy into the program by having them make inspections, put on safety training, or help investigate accidents.
  • Make clear assignments of responsibility for every part of the program that you develop. Make certain everyone understands them. The more people involved the better. A good rule of thumb is to assign safety and health responsibilities in the same way you assign production responsibilities. Make it a special part of everyone's job to operate safely. That way, as you grow and delegate production responsibilities more widely, you will commit safety and health responsibilities with them.
  • Give those with responsibility enough people, onthe-clock time, training, money and authority to get the job done.
  • Don't forget about it after you make assignments; make sure personally that they get the job done. Recognize and reward those who do well, and correct those who don't.
  • Take time, at least annually, to review what you have accomplished against what you set as your objectives and decide if you need new objectives or program revisions to get where you want to be.

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