The worker plays a vital role in any occupational hygiene program, that’s why it’s important for health & safety leaders to build trust with teams that operate within their business to get the most out of the occupational hygiene cycle.
Complex occupational hygiene projects require information to help build upon the foundations of understanding a business and its processes. That’s why, at the data gathering stage of any occupational hygiene assessment, engagement with the workforce proves to be a vital component in the cycle.
Leaders who empower their teams to speak with freedom, can unlock a new level of collectiveness, which undoubtedly benefits any occupational hygiene program. As part of an occupational hygiene assessment, workers who are hands on with the processes being evaluated will provide the deepest insight and help pave the way for change.
Occupational hygienists rely heavily on information provided by the workforce. However, it often takes time to build trust with individuals for them to open up about their work, particularly where comprehensive health and safety management systems are new to a business. Understandably, it can take individuals time to adjust to a new culture.
In contrast, there are individuals who seem to be apprehensive about trusting their employer, possibly due to things like a previous lack of investment in health and safety, or poor communication between leaders and their teams. One key driver for mistrust is an all-too-common conflict between meeting production targets and working safely, at which point health and safety becomes partially sacrificial at the expense of increased outputs. Teams lose trust in their leaders because of the contradictory handling of the health and safety within the business.
When implementing any occupational hygiene program into an organisation, leaders must engage their workers and empower them to be a part of the process. People are the driving force behind change and play a vital role in creating safer working environments. Leaders should build trust within their teams and recognise that the workforce can contribute heavily to any occupational hygiene program by sharing key information about their work and they should be encouraged to do so. This information could help highlight opportunities for improving worker health protection within their organisations.
Here are 10 more reasons why the worker plays a vital part in an occupational hygiene program:
1. Workers are the primary source of information about their working conditions, as they are the ones who directly interact with the equipment, materials, and processes involved in their work. Their input is essential in identifying hazards, evaluating risks, and developing effective controls.
2. Workers are the ones who are most directly affected by the hazards present in their workplace. They can provide valuable insight into the potential health effects of exposure to different substances or physical stressors.
3. Workers are often the first to notice changes in their work environment that could indicate a problem. By involving workers in the occupational hygiene program or assessment, they can help identify potential hazards before they become a significant issue.
4. Workers can help ensure that control measures are effective and practical. They can provide feedback on the feasibility and effectiveness of different control measures and suggest alternative approaches that might be more suitable for their specific work processes.
5. Workers can help ensure that the occupational hygiene program or assessment is comprehensive and accurate. They can provide information about all aspects of their work processes, including tasks, materials used, equipment, and work schedules, which can be crucial in identifying hazards and developing appropriate controls.
6. Workers can help ensure that the occupational hygiene program or assessment is implemented effectively. They can provide input on the training and communication needed to ensure that everyone understands the hazards and controls in place and can work safely.
7. Workers can help ensure that the occupational hygiene program or assessment is continually improved. They can provide feedback on the effectiveness of the program or assessment and suggest areas for improvement.
8. Workers are often more motivated to implement control measures if they feel involved in the process. By involving workers in the occupational hygiene program or assessment, they can help ensure that everyone is committed to working safely.
9. Workers can help ensure that the occupational hygiene program or assessment is culturally appropriate. They can provide input on the cultural norms and practices that may affect the implementation of control measures and suggest alternative approaches that might be more effective in their specific context.
10. Workers can help ensure that the occupational hygiene program or assessment is compliant with relevant regulations and standards. They can provide input on the legal requirements that apply to their work processes and help ensure that the program or assessment meets those requirements.