Explain how Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) contributes to managing the human resource environment. Use the research literature to outline and discuss at least two current OH&S issues that impact human resource management in contemporary organizations. * * * Occupational health and safety are becoming more and more important in term of human resource management. On one hand, managers need to be familiar with the legal context. On the other hand, they also have to keep in mind a development of strategy to manage occupational health and safety.
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This essay will discuss some current occupational health and safety issues and how they affect human resource management. Occupational health and safety refers to the physical, physiological and psychological conditions of an organization’s workforce, related to aspects of work and the work context. When setting organization’s goal and strategies, managers may have to take to consider occupational health and safety management as an influencing factor. As countries all over the world are integrating in globalization, the change in economic structure also has influence on the way of doing business.
When more and more companies move from state-owned to private ones, they may have their own strategy to manage occupational health and safety which is more suitable for their own goal. China is an example. Before, China’s government has authority and is the one who sets regulations on standard conditions of workplace in state-owned company. Since China opened its market to join the global market, a lot of private companies as well as foreign companies were established. This led to the change in government’s laws and regulations related to occupational health and safety.
It has been stated in article of Dara (2003) that government rules through unions and associations that also communicate with organizations through smaller ones. Each organization has its own department to take care the conditions related to workplace (usually human resource department). However, this raises another issue among the society. As reported in researches, the problem related to occupational health and safety is still underestimated. Managers and board directors are still considering the profit and outcomes more important than employees’ wellbeing (Meei-shia, 2003, p. 68). Only high demand of employees or legislation from government can affect management decision on occupational health and safety. This can be seen as one of the reasons for an increasing number of work-related stress as well as other diseases. The modern life with the advantage of new technologies may have result in rising stress at work. It can easily be found on jobs that require long time working and much effort such as professionals, science research and managers. There are several reasons that cause stress in workplace.
Poor working conditions, high job demands or physical harassment; all of these can lead to work-related stress. Many studies have shown a same result about the effect of long working hour and high demand of work on level of stress of workers. Moreover, as the labor-force is becoming older, younger workers are decreasing; the task for employees will increase. While the number of old labor increased by 4. 2 million, this number of younger workforce decreased by 0. 7 million (“New and emerging risks in occupational safety and health”, 2009).
This can also lead to a high level of depression. It has been argued that because of lack of experience, skills and training, young workers often have to suffer more risk at work (Marie-Amelie, 2009). A major issue that managers have to take to consider in this perspective is how to train young and new labor-force so they will be aware of their rights and duties regarding health and safety. Problems related to occupational health and safety is differing from industries. Heavy industries often observe higher rate of risk than other industries.
For example, a study of Hitomi, Bryan and Xabier (2009) on truck drivers’ occupational accidents has shown a relative high percentage of accidents when working on and around the truck. These include stepping off the edge at height (33. 3%), wrong footing (27. 0%), slipping (44. 1%) and so on. Another occupational health and safety issue is that not only it differs from industries but also differs from types of worker. The world is moving; countries are getting closer and closer.
Organizations nowadays tend to do their production offshore because the foreign labor cost is much cheaper than local ones. However, foreign managers, as mentioned earlier, usually care more about the profit than occupational health and safety. Similarly, workers who immigrate have to work in unfavorable conditions than local workers. Reports’ results have shown a remarkable high-risk rate of migrant workers compared to local ones. As immigrants, they have to accept hard works with long hour, high demand and poor conditions in order to earn money for their living.
For example, a French study revealed that immigrant workers have to face with more risks at work in compared with local workers (Gliber, as cited in Eusebio, 2009). Besides, they often lack of education and information about occupational health and safety at workplace. Differences in language and culture are too factors prevent them from communications related to occupational health and safety. Since occupational health and safety issues are recognized, it is necessary for managers to think about how to manage it along with organizations’ goal and mission.
As mentioned earlier, both government and organization should control occupational health and safety. Government can set the standard conditions while organization can have its own management according to its situation. However, the most important factor that contributes to a successful management of occupational health and safety is employees’ involvement. In the research of workplace conditions in China, Dara and Garrett (2003) has emphasized the important role of employees in occupational health and safety. Employees are people who work and face with risks directly at workplace.
They know what type of health and safety problem workers often have as well as how to create an ideal working environment. Having workers’ involvement in occupational health and safety management is the best way to do. Employees themselves should be aware of their role in occupational health and safety issues. It is for their own benefit that they take part in occupational health and safety management. They have the right to raise their voice, to make sure that their rights and obligations are protected. Workers’ participation is also one of many factors contributing to a successful occupational health and safety management.
In order to encourage workers to take part in occupational health and safety, it needs to have a strong connection between top manager, supervisors and employees. There is number of organizations have failed in occupational health and safety management as they don’t take to consider worker’ involvement in decision-making. The communication gap between employers and employees is one of many impediments to develop a safety workplace. We are living in a dynamic environment that is changing everyday. The advantages of new technologies help people in many aspects.
However, occupational health and safety is still one of the issues that people concern the most when doing business. It is still a controversy about how decision-making can help to create a healthy and safety environment. The responsibility not only belongs to managers but also workers who directly experience the conditions of workplaces. Managers should take to consider the occupational health and safety as a contributor to human resource management therefore have contingency plan in decision-making in order to make occupational health and safety management suitable with organization’s goal.