Importance of workers’ participation in health and safety in the workplace

Every year, the European Union records around 5,600 deaths due to an accident at work. In addition, almost 160,000 people die from work-related illnesses. While certain accidents cannot be prevented, many of the situations that lead to the death of an employee could be avoided if measures are taken to minimise risks in the workplace.

At first sight, one might think that the responsibility for keeping employees safe rests solely with the directors and managers of the company in question. This is true to a certain extent: employers are obliged to control the risks in their industry and provide adequate working conditions; however, the involvement of employees in these safety and health issues is extremely important.

Both parties may have different perspectives and knowledge about performing work activities more efficiently and how those activities impact them. A manager has a very general idea of the particular activities that his or her employees perform. Still, the employee, who performs his or her job daily, has a better understanding of the details that could be fine-tuned to improve processes, so his or her contribution is vital to risk prevention.

In fact, studies have shown that workplaces where employees play an active role in prevention, have lower levels of occupational risks and fatalities.

The involvement of employees and companies can be reflected in the following ways:

  • they share information and concerns;
  • they seek to find the most appropriate solutions to problems;
  • they respect and take into account each other’s views, enabling them to make decisions together;
  • they discuss problems in advance and try to implement preventive measures.

Having employees’ input can help prevent occupational hazards by suggesting safety techniques. In addition to having excellent opinions, their presence means early involvement in planning processes, which means a greater understanding of why certain safety measures are taken and, therefore, more motivation to respect them.

How else can employees cooperate on safety and health issues?

By making proper use of the equipment, tools and products, they work with.

By following preventive measures implemented by others and, if one of the safety techniques is not working, employees should contact their superiors to let them know or propose another measure.

There is no doubt that employees are a vital part of the running of a company, so it is of the utmost importance that they take an active part in the safety of themselves and their colleagues.

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