Employers are required by law to implement occupational health and safety standards and processes in the workplace. But most employers, once they have implemented the systems and procedures and provided training to their workers, leave their responsibilities at it. They fail to understand that without their employees playing their crucial part, the health and safety system will not be able to bear any result in reducing occupational risks and hazards.
As an organization, if you have implemented the right OHS system in place, you have done only half the job. Employees have responsibilities too and it is important to make them aware of these duties. So I will list the most important responsibilities of employees, which should be known to both the employer and the workers.
The Responsibilities of Employees
As a worker you must make your workplace safer by following these primary duties:
- Firstly, you should take proper care of your own health and safety.
- If you wear a headscarf or have long hair, it is important to tuck it away in a way that there is no chance of it causing any potential hazard when operating any equipment. In fact, you should avoid wearing any type of loose clothing or jewellery when using any equipment.
- You should also ensure that you are not putting other people including other workers and visitors at any kind of risk due to your action or inaction.
- You must fully cooperate with the employer when it comes to health and safety training. You must notify the employer if you don’t fully understand the health and safety policies of the company.
- You must report any work-related injuries, illnesses or even strains, without concern how small they are, to your employer. The employer is required under law to make appropriate changes to the workplace processes or to make provisions for your treatment.
You should also inform your employer if there is a situation or development that could prevent you from working. This could also include becoming pregnant. If you are taking certain medications that affect your concentration, you should especially inform your employer if your work involves operating a machine. Your employer could make temporary arrangements so that you can handle some other safer job.
Avoid Taking Risks
As a worker, you will be trained to work safely and to create a safer workplace. So when you face any situation where you aren’t sure about the safety of the work or process, you should avoid taking risks. If you think you cannot deal with a special situation, you should get the employer involved. Some of the main causes behind workplace accidents originate in human behaviour. So you should take all measures to avoid any kind of accident.
I have often seen during my career that employees think that the responsibility for workplace safety lies with the employer. It is nothing else but a mistake. There is no denying that employers have a lot of responsibilities, but the point is that they cannot ensure a safer workplace without the involvement and cooperation of their workers.
So you should comply with the laws and ensure that you are doing everything to create a safe work environment for yourself and others. As an employee, you should avoid being under the influence of any substance when delivering your duties. Chances are that an employer may not be able to screen all the workers before they enter the premises.
The Author is one of the most experienced professionals in the field of Occupational Health & Safety in Canada. He has several decades of experience working in a multitude of sectors. When he is not working and training safety professionals, he is sharing his knowledge to make the workplace a safer place everywhere.