Human Resources and Safety
So what is the big deal about Human Resources ? One may ask, “ you said you were going to address safety, yet you start with some Human Resources articles, why ? “ Simple, because good Human Resources is the platform for smart safety. Think of it like a triangle, the base of the triangle is Human Resources, the next side is safety and the final side to our Risk Management Triangle is Workers’ Comp. administration.
Several years ago, while working as a Regional Risk Manager, for a large staffing company, my V.P. made the following statement; “ We hire our own work comp claims.” This simple concept had a profound influence on my professional career.
At the time I had one last class to finish, the CPCU designation, with that completed, I decided to become certified in Human Resources, so I passed the PHR exam. A number of years later, I finished a graduate degree in Human Resources.
Controlled studies have proven that good employees will have fewer injuries and fewer claims. And of greater importance for Senior Managers, is that these employees are more productive. Greater productivity becomes greater profits. It has been shown that workers who score high on conscientiousness have only half of the injuries as employees with low scores on conscientiousness.
Here are four steps to a stellar safety program. Here is a mnemonic device for remembering the four, STIR. This stands for the following: Science, Training, IIPP and Recognition or rewards. First we use the available science for all employee selection. There are a number of reliable personality tests for selecting employees, but the best will focus on conscientiousness and or honesty. Use science, not interviews.
Next, it is vitally important to have a bullet proof Injury and Illness Prevention Plan ( IIPP) . Many companies have poorly crafted IIPPs. Or they had a good plan but their operation has changed but the plan was never updated. In many states, an IIPP that is deficient, is OSHA’s most common employer violation. An important subpart of the IIPP is employee safety training. Lack of regular safety training is another common violation.
One safety training annually is an accident waiting to happen. Safety training that is regular and hazard specific will reduce accidents and save money in several different ways. Also, you must have written records of the training. Finally, rewards and or recognition help reinforce the safety culture. There are dozens of ways to approach rewards and recognition plans, for brevity, I will only suggest one.
Make safety part of the employees annual review process. No employee with a poor safety record shall be promoted or receive raises or bonuses. It is good business to reward the behaviors that management wants, and not to reward behaviors that are undesirable.
In closing, there are companies with good safety records that do not integrate safety and human resources, but if you want a superlative safety program and a distinct competitive advantage, which can translate into greater profits, it will only happen by using the science which is found in Human Resources.
CPCU, Charter Property and Casualty Underwriter ( a Risk Management and Insurance credential )
PHR, Professional in Human Resources
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