The integration and alignment of the different functional departments within companies is an integral part towards creating exceptional high performing companies. It is often that departments within companies perceive that the different functions within the human resource departments act independently. This thought of undependability is seemingly transferred to the acts of the employee. Focus of these companies should be on creating an understanding and awareness of how every department and employee’s action affects one another.
Industrial relations and health and safety departments have a high degree of influence on each other and employees’ behaviors. Through the rest of the articles the interaction between these two departments will be highlighted in terms of integrating the disciplinary code with occupational health and safety management.
Companies have a legal and moral obligation to ensure the safety of employees, contractors and the public. On the other side of the coin employees are also designated with responsibilities to uphold during everyday operations.
These responsibilities could be implemented through formal measures such as safe work procedures, company inductions, personal protective equipment (PPE) adherence and many more. Applying these responsibilities should be done in a procedurally and substantively fair manner. Your disciplinary code should directly speak to any charges relating to occupational health and safety contraventions. Some of these charges could include:
The integration of your disciplinary code is not limited to the above mentioned charges. Almost all charges within your disciplinary code could be integrated with OHS. For example negligence, under the influence of intoxicating liquor/ drugs while on duty and many more. Companies should then decide on the appropriate sanctions towards any of the contraventions ranging from a verbal warning to a disciplinary hearing. These should however be documented within the disciplinary code to avoid any discrepancies through individual bias/favoritism.
As mentioned earlier, companies have a moral and legal obligation to provide a safe work environment. If this is not the case, employees have means towards addressing these concerns though logging a formal grievance. An example of a grievance can be an employee being victimized by management when reporting unsafe conditions.
Although disciplinary measure are an important part in implementing health and safety it should not be the foundation. True implementation starts from creating a culture where management and the companies’ values are underpinned by safe work practices. Where measurements are taken on unsafe acts and not injuries or loss.
Disciplinary measures is only a tool in the transformation towards a safe work culture if any resistance is shown. Besides disciplinary measures, employees that breaches good OHS practices within the workplace should be schooled into the reasoning behind the practice and the importance thereof.
Trends should be kept of disciplinary actions that involves breaches in safety practices. These should be analysed and used towards focus points in terms of increasing safety measures. Integrating your industrial relations and occupational health and safety systems into one integrated human capital management system, will allow you to extract this important information. Utilising this information and taking corrective actions should result in more efficiencies in the industrial relations departments and an overall safer workplace.
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