Ensuring the safety of employees is an international concern. However, emphasis on employee safety varies greatly from country to country. In the United States, OSHA oversees occupational safety and health regulations that ensure employee safety. However, many businesses go beyond basic state and federal regulations to define and enforce workplace safety procedures and behaviors.
To reinforce workplace safety, many companies introduce safety incentive programs. These programs recognize and reward employees for achieving safety goals and for following safety protocols. Generally, these types of programs set monthly or quarterly goals. The goals include evaluating and measuring adherence to maintaining tidy work areas, obedience to safety rules, and mandated use of safety equipment. At the end of each award period, generally the employer presents prizes and incentives for reducing lost hours, injuries, and medical costs related to workplace safety. In addition to comprehensive job training and regular safety seminars, these programs have proved critical to reducing workplace costs.
Aside from focusing on overall workplace safety, employers can also target reducing specific injuries. In particular, injuries that are of most risk to employees deserve special attention. Many specific types of injuries can be prevented through a combination of job analysis, standard operating procedures, written polices, protective wear, and reprimands for unsafe behavior.
Promoting Safety Internationally
As manufacturing continues to shift overseas and as domestic assembly personnel become more ethnic, organizations must adapt. They need to examine closely the safety training of their employees, regardless of where plants are located. They must also identify cultural and language barriers to establishing effective safety programs.
As a part of a making safety programs more accessible to diverse audiences, complete safety programs need to be translated from English to other languages. In the U.S., companies commonly translate employee manuals and training programs into Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and sometimes Russian. As companies increasingly engage in offshoring initiatives in countries where labor standards are far less strict than in the U.S., they are also developing new programs. These programs comply with overseas laws, enforcement practices, and political climates.
Companies that move production overseas often find that production workers place little emphasis on adhering to safety procedures. In most cases, foreign production workers, particularly those in less developed countries, may think the company is not serious about protecting workers’ health and safety. In these cases, frequent training classes, strong communication, and oversight are necessary if the company hopes to achieve results similar to those they expect in the United States.