the stickwhy regulation won’tsolve safety issuesin the workplaceanthony raja DevaDoss                        1
2 | carrot or stick? | the stickcompliance Drives effort, but not results.For most developed economies, the regulatory fra...
3 | carrot or stick? | the stickseeing the ‘real’ trip hazarD for each role. If we knowthat thinking beyond regulatory req...
4 | carrot or stick? | the stickthink broaDly about emerging issues.Industrial accidents obviously have the greatest immed...
5 | carrot or stick? | the stickthe feeDback loop. Basic psychology will tell you thathuman beings are adept deniers, and ...
this is part 1 of carrot or stick?, a whitepaper series exploringsafety management issues in the workplace for the apac re...
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The stick - why regulation won’t solve safety issues in the workplace

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The stick - why regulation won’t solve safety issues in the workplace

  1. 1. the stickwhy regulation won’tsolve safety issuesin the workplaceanthony raja DevaDoss 1
  2. 2. 2 | carrot or stick? | the stickcompliance Drives effort, but not results.For most developed economies, the regulatory frameworks of occupationalhealth and safety are well understood and have contributed significantlyto reduced workplace accidents. For emerging economies, this evolutionwill still have some way to go. However, there is an important lessonto be learned from highly regulated industries and economies—compliance alone does not lead to an outstanding safety record.While it’s clear that compliance concentrates minimum approach. Typically, companies overtones. Nobody feels energized by these safety measures should also be assessedeffort on eliminating predictable risks, it ask themselves, “What do we need to do changes—we do them because we have to, as an opportunity to improve productivity,doesn’t achieve the full range of benefits to comply with this legislation?” They then never realizing the bigger picture. retention and innovation, not just asthat can, and should, follow a strong set about making those changes, and those compliance measures.safety culture. changes only. The question of what return Even in developed economies where safety the business might receive as a result of that compliance is strong and has a long history, The more open to change, and the moreSafety laws can raise awareness and assign investment is rarely considered—it’s just seen there remains a significant ‘gap’ between innovative and performance-focused anresponsibility, but they rarely inspire ongoing as a ‘must-do’ and written down as expense. the possible benefits of regulation and its organization is, the more likely it will be ablechange. Too often they direct action into just actual implementation. First and foremost, to take regulation in its stride, and even turnone area of an organization. And as a result, The second problem with the compliance- this is because the link between building it into a new competitive opportunity.employees are simply spurred to ‘comply’ so driven approach to safety is that the goal a safety culture and overall organizationalthat they can get back to their ‘real’ work. can become the avoidance of penalty, which performance is not broadly understood. places the safety measures in a negativethe problem with this is two-fold: first, context from the very beginning. They before these benefits can be realized, ourit removes resources from other parts immediately become an extra ‘burden’, mindset needs to change. Safety needs toof the organization without first being just one more issue to mitigate, and the be seen as one element of organizationalassessed in terms of return on investment, communication and implementation of performance, and one that should deliverwhich instinctively drives this kind of bare the changes often comes with negative tangible return on investment. Inherently,
  3. 3. 3 | carrot or stick? | the stickseeing the ‘real’ trip hazarD for each role. If we knowthat thinking beyond regulatory requirements is the first step to achieving the broaderbenefits of a strong safety culture, the locus of safety initiatives needs to be addressed.More often than not, due in part to practices or knowledge gaps. Nobody wants suppliers and contractors. For staff operating Understanding how behaviors may differcompliance-based approach to safety issues the electrical cord to be left unattended, in emerging economies, safety may also across certain roles, markets and levels of thein organizations, the majority (if not all) safety but facing up to the real safety issues that apply to local customs and legal frameworks. organization can help to focus relevant safetyinitiatives are focused in operational, front- are present in each role requires some measures effectively. Sometimes, this alsoline environments. Often, there can be large serious lateral thinking. After all, safety is not even when cultural norms dictate a certain requires managers to take a step back fromgaps in the safety culture of different parts of just about preventing accidents, it’s about way of doing things, organizations need accepted ways of doing things, no matteran organization with little understanding of creating a culture of wellbeing and high to figure out the safety implications for how natural and unavoidable they mayissues presenting in other environments. performance across the organization. workers. Can exceptions be made for the seem. If a true safety culture is going to be way business is done in one part of the embraced organization-wide, it’s the toughToo often, OH&S takes the form of significant When we begin to think laterally, it becomes world, if it wouldn’t be acceptable elsewhere? choices and decisions that are likely to give itand valuable measures on the factory floor, clear that there are many aspects of Does their acceptability make them any the most strength and longevity.but translates to menial hazards in the office. organizational practice that have potential more ‘safe’?While tripping over a loose electrical cord to impact safety across a business. Thesemay well be a genuine hazard, chances are include policies and practices that touch allit’s not the most serious safety issue facing employees, such as incentive and rewardoffice workers. Theirs are far more likely to be schemes, staffing levels and recruitmentfound in more obscure issues, such as hiring practices, as well as relationships with
  4. 4. 4 | carrot or stick? | the stickthink broaDly about emerging issues.Industrial accidents obviously have the greatest immediate impact onemployee safety—when things go wrong on production lines, in mines oroil rigs, the whole world is likely to find out about it. Yet, there are a numberof other issues that have the potential to undermine employee safety ona large scale, or that can contribute to increased risk in other areas.When attempting to take a broader look at In order to take a broader perspective of The ageing population is a particularly The breadth of these emerging issues issafety issues across the organization, consider safety and address the factors that can relevant consideration for many workplaces. vast. It’s easy to look at a list like this andthings such as: lower performance across the organization As employees age, a greater number of wonder how any company would face such a in less obvious ways, managers need to be health issues, both physical and mental, mammoth task of mitigating the impact of a• psychological wellbeing and stress factors encouraged and taught to think about safety are likely to impact upon their performance worldwide ageing population, for example. in terms of: and contribution at work. Also, the shift it’s doubtful that any organization will ever• The ageing population towards more flexible workplace practices reduce every risk to zero, and that’s not 1. employee and community ‘health’; such as at-home working or telecommuting the aim of a strong safety culture. Instead,• employee culture and relationships— is there high conflict between certain can reduce the oversight and impact that the aim is to help employees and managers 2. organizational productivity; and departments or minority groups? traditional workplace practices can have on to think as broadly as possible about safety 3. company reputation. improving health outcomes for employees. issues to drive organization-wide behaviors• lifestyle and disease factors in the local It’s important to consider new and innovative that lift overall performance. community and workforce ways to engage employees who may not attend an ‘office’ regularly in the health and• styles of working, such as contract or safety cause. at-home workers
  5. 5. 5 | carrot or stick? | the stickthe feeDback loop. Basic psychology will tell you thathuman beings are adept deniers, and it’s easy for employees tofeel that health and safety messages do not apply to them—andthis is why feedback, and the right feedback, is so important.Often, employees are reluctant to recognize productivity issues, positive reinforcement the organization with a consequence-free and employer, and between employerrisk factors in their own behavior and lifestyle, needs to be the starting point of any overhaul opportunity to learn, and that even the and the broader community. In this lightlet alone in their work. There is an inherent of organizational safety. And managers need mistakes that do happen are opportunities it can be used as retention tool of realrisk that every employee feels when owning to be empowered to provide this feedback in for improvement. significance and genuine benefit to theup to a mistake, and this is a serious problem a way that’s relevant for their teams. bottom line and beyond.for building a robust safety culture. In fact, taking the safety message, in its If communications and reporting mechanisms broadest context, to the heart of the Once management has grasped this link,linking identified risks with improvements on safety issues look for blame and organization and the employment conditions conveying to employees is relatively straight-in overall performance will help employees encourage defensive behavior in managers of staff can in turn contribute to staff forward, because it is a natural extension ofto see the outcome of their mistakes. and workers, there’s virtually no hope for retention and discretionary effort. McKinsey how people generally want to work. TheyPositive reinforcement works, and it’s part achieving the right outcome. Encouraging a research shows that employees need to feel want to feel valued, to contribute and to seeof creating the kind of feedback loop that management style that focuses on positive that their interests and the interests of the how their success impacts the business—thisgenerates ongoing improvement—and reinforcement is the best way to get people business are much the same, and what better is the carrot, and it’s also the test of truehopefully improvements that spill out beyond to recognize issues and change behavior. demonstration of this than the common goals safety leadership.the traditional ‘safety’ realm. of improving productivity and wellbeing? managers need to know that their roleTo address the scale of the issues that present in identifying, recording and mitigating Rather than being just another compliancethemselves, and to ensure safety is simply a risks are a shortcut to other savings. burden, safety and wellbeing can be framedspringboard for employees to address overall They need to understand how this provides as a mutual obligation between employee
  6. 6. this is part 1 of carrot or stick?, a whitepaper series exploringsafety management issues in the workplace for the apac region.about the authorAnthony RAjA DevADoss is currently the vice President—APAC with theoutsourcing & Consulting Group of Kelly services. From network services,engineering to e-business solutions, Anthony Raja has worked in both India andMalaysia, within technical roles to the Chief executive officer. he has received hisBachelors degree in science and his MBA in Marketing & Postgraduate Diplomain Computing. he holds membership in various local and international associationssuch as the MIM, human Capital Institute & Association of Career Professionals International. he isthe head of Policy enablement & Government Liaison with outsourcing Malaysia and a memberof the Industry Advisory Board for the Graduate school of Business, UnIRAZAK. he has beenrecently appointed to the hR Capacity Building task force by the Ministry of human Resources,Govt of Malaysia. Anthony is also a member of the hRoA APAC Chapter Board. http://my.linkedin.com/in/anthonyraja http://twitter.com/anthonyrajaabout kellyocgKellyOCG is the Outsourcing and Consulting Group of Fortune 500 workforce solutions provider,Kelly Services, Inc. KellyOCG is a global leader in innovative talent management solutions in theareas of Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO), Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), ContingentWorkforce Outsourcing (CWO), including Independent Contractor Solutions, Human ResourcesConsulting, Career Transition and Organizational Effectiveness, and Executive Search.Further information about KellyOCG may be found at kellyocg.com. EXIT

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