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December 13, 2021

What Role Do Employees Play in Regards to Safety in the Workplace?

We talk a lot about your safety responsibilities as an employer. After all, under OSHA rules, the bulk of legal responsibility falls on you (barring a few extremely rare exemptions).

But at the end of the day, safety is still a two-way street. So, what role do employees play in regards to safety in the workplace?

The short answer: a bigger role than you might think.

Employer vs. Employee Responsibilities

First, it helps to understand the legal disparity between employer responsibilities and employee responsibilities. The foundation of all of these responsibilities is, of course, the General Duty Clause. When OSHA doesn’t have any other applicable standard, it always falls back on the General Duty Clause.

Under the General Duty Clause, employers are responsible for providing employees with a safe work environment reasonably free of recognized hazards. They are also responsible for complying with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under the Act.

Then, there are employees.

While employers are explicitly responsible for creating and maintaining a safe work environment, employees are responsible for complying with health and safety standards under the OSH Act as they apply to the employee’s own behavior and actions. Basically, employees are responsible for themselves, and employers are responsible for everything else.

What Role Do Employees Play in Regards to Safety in the Workplace?

So, what role do employees play in regards to safety in the workplace? It’s actually a bigger role than you think.

Remember, while employers are responsible for creating and maintaining safe work conditions, employees are the ones who move through those work conditions. They significantly outnumber employers and managers. And without the right mentality, all of your efforts to create a safe work environment won’t go anywhere.

In simple terms, employers are responsible for creating the right conditions, but employees are responsible for executing them. The trick is to make sure that employees do it in the right way–which means taking ownership of their role in safety.

Getting Employees to Commit to Their Role

Getting employees to commit to playing their part in safety is all about the right attitude. It’s not just you managing employee behavior. It’s everyone contributing to the safety of everyone else.

A good way to get started is to get out of the lecture mentality and get into the conversation mentality. Safety isn’t punitive, but protective. By having conversations, listening to what employees have to say, acting on it, and encouraging more contributions, you can slowly create an environment where employees feel empowered to take charge of safety.

The Tools You Need for Workplace Safety

What role do employees play in regards to safety in the workplace? In short, they’re critical.

Looking for the right tools to get your employees involved in safety. You’re in the right place–our safety management software makes it easy to find and act on essential information at the right moment. So if you’re ready to do safety the right way, get in touch today to learn how our software can empower your team.

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