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Managing Risks for Those Working From Home and the Health: The Safety Adviser’s Point of View Case Study

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Updated: Feb 28th, 2022

The management of this organization has encouraged its employees to work from home as a way of minimizing the spread of virus based on the guidance provided by the government. The firm has taken a unique approach of managing risks to those who are working from home. One of the strategies that the company uses is to maintain regular updates on ways in which these people can remain safe even when they are working from home. As the health and safety adviser in the organization, I have conducted a wide research on ways in which workers of this insurance firm can remain safe. These employees have been advised to maintain hand hygiene by regularly washing their hands or using sanitizers, especially when they have left their houses. They have been advised to reduce contacts with non-family members unless it is unavoidable. The organization also advises its employees to facemasks at all times when they are leaving their homes.

The company has also made sure that occupational health and safety standards are not ignored by its employees who work remotely from home. Before they were instructed to work from home, all employees were advised on how to set up workstations that were safe and ideal for their work. The standard arrangement of the home workstation was not only meant to improve their performance but also to ensure that they are safe, as explained in the case. The approach of using a comprehensive system of risk management has made sure that all workers of this company to not face any major risks while they are at work as demonstrated in the case.

Communicating Health and Safety

Communication is critical in enhancing health and safety of employees during this unique period of the pandemic. Based on the scenario given, it is evident that the management is using communication as a way of effectively empowering its employees. One example of how the organization is using communication to influence health and safety culture is through weekly videoconferencing meetings where the management explains milestones made in fighting the virus. Employees are encouraged to discuss challenges that they face working from home and maintaining standard practices set to help fight the virus. These consultative forums constantly reminds employees of the significance of embracing a culture that will protect their health when they resume working at the company’s offices. As shown in the scenario, through videoconferencing, employees can also give their insights on how to fight the virus. It means that everyone is actively involved in developing relevant policies for managing the virus.

The case provided also shows the commitment of the management to use various forms of internal communication to influence health and safety culture as soon as employees resume working from home. An example of how this company will use communication is through the creation of health and safety noticeboards in the office, as explained in the scenario. It is meant to ensure that new standards are communicated to employees within the shortest time possible. The management is also using direct e-mails to all employees, advising and reminding them to maintain hand hygiene measures. The company’s internet is another example of the platforms that the company is using to promote a health and safety culture in the organization. The management is also keen on using posters to further remind everyone on standard practices needed to fight the virus.

Benefits of Certification to an ISO Occupational Health and Safety Management System Standard to the Organization

The scenario given in the case shows that the Managing Director is keen on abandoning external audits on occupational health and safety standards within the organization as a way of cutting the overall cost of operation. However, the director needs to understand benefits that the organization will have if it maintains occupational health and safety management certification. One of the benefits that the organization will have is motivation of its workers. One of the best ways of ensuring that employees are happy in their workplace is to ensure that they are safe from any possible threats while they are undertaking their official duties.

Maintaining the current health and safety management system certification will be a reminder to them that the firm cares. They will realize that the organization is willing to pay external entities to come and inspect safety standards and procedures at the firm. Such actions creates a feeling among employees that they are important to the firm. It enhances their loyalty and commitment to the firm. Their overall performance will improve as they try to demonstrate their commitment. It is also likely that the rate of employee turnover within the company will reduce. The most talented and experienced workers of this firm will be retained, eliminating cases where the firm has to regularly spend resources to recruit and train new employees.

Maintaining the certification system will eliminate doubt and suspicion among both internal and external stakeholders. The company has protected its integrity when it comes to occupational health and safety management by maintaining the certification system for many years. When this practice is suddenly eliminated, there will be an impression that these standards have been compromised. The lack of external auditing will enhance the wrong impression that the organization has something to hide. Even if the standards have been maintained or even improved as shown in the case, many internal and external stakeholders will feel that there are some weaknesses that the organization is keen on hiding. Another major argument that will convince the director to maintain the certification system is the fact that such steps often lead to regular improvement in the firm. The work of an auditor is not to simple assess the current system and give report about it. They are also expected to identify internal weaknesses within the organization and recommend ways of managing them. It means that their report can be used to introduce regular improvements at the firm.

Maintaining the health and safety management system certification will help in protecting ISO occupational health and safety certification. This certification will only remain in force if the company maintains regular audits conducted by external firms. As shown in the scenario provided, the company has been boasting of these certification as it gives it an image as a firm that is committed to protecting its workers. Eliminating the certification system may mean the loss of ISO certification to the firm. It may negatively affect the image of the firm at a time when it is expected to achieve growth in the highly competitive industry. External audits will also convince the government that this company is following health guidelines provided to help in fighting the pandemic. It will eliminate cases where the government has to regularly disrupt the firm’s operation to assess health and safety standards at the firm.

Applying Further Control Measures

The organization is planning various administrative measures that would help in limiting the spread of the virus and keep all its workers safe and healthy. One of the administrative steps will be to conduct regular risk assessment within the organization to determine threats that employees face. Such assessments will help in determining possible weaknesses that the organization has in terms of the management of employees’ safety and steps that can be taken to address them. It is also important that the management has taken the initiative to inform its employees of the outcome of such assessment processes. It helps in determining different roles that various stakeholders have to play to maintain a healthy workplace environment.

The scenario shows that another administrative approach that the firm is using to maintain a healthy workplace environment is regular and effective communication. The management understands that the only way of limiting the spread of the virus and maintaining a healthy workplace environment is to regularly advise its employees on measures that should be observed. The management unit intends to use various communication platforms meant to empower its employees on the fight against the virus. One such platform is the e-mailing system that enables the firm to provide step-by-step measures on how to stay safe. Through these emails, the firm can explain to employees what they need to do to be safe. Hand hygiene measures are explained through this platforms. As discussed above, other platforms such as videoconferencing and posters are also critical in explaining to the employees what they need to do to remain safe.

The scenario shows that another major administrative measure that the firm will take to protect employees is the development of work instructions on social distancing measures. It is important to note that before the pandemic, it was normal and even encouraged that employees make physical contacts with their colleagues to help in addressing different tasks or developing of new policies. However, that has to change as the international community struggles to find ways of managing the pandemic. In the meantime, a new instruction on social distancing measures will have to be considered. The new procedures will focus on regular use of facemasks for all employees when they are at work, especially those who have to work in enclosed rooms. The management will have to conduct regular inspection of these workplaces to ensure that the new rules and regulations are observed by everyone.

It is also evident from the scenario that the Human Resource Manager intends to provide an update of the first aid policy at the firm. The new standards that the administration will be introducing is based on the current challenges that the organization is facing because of the pandemic. For instance, fire evacuation standards will have to change. Traditionally, people were advised to evacuate premises when there is a fire breakout and to assemble at a central location just to help determine if others are still trapped in the building. The new standard that the administration introduces emphasizes the need to keep social distancing at such fire assembly points. It may be necessary to have different assembly points based on one’s department to avoid crowding that may expose many people to the virus in case there is a person who is affected.

Influencing Behavior to Improve Performance

The organization will be effective in positively influencing behavior change when employees eventually return to traditional procedure of working from office. It is evident from the scenario that the organization has already taken steps to introduce behavior change. The Human Resource Manager has been working closely with the Health and Safety Adviser to find ways of enhancing employee safety when they finally decide to working from offices. Procedures have been put in place to ensure that those who will be working from enclosed offices maintain physical distancing and wear their facemasks at all times. The scenario shows that one of the most important behavioral changes needed to help keep everyone safe in the workplace is to limit social gatherings, especially in enclosed spaces. The management has already taken a major initiative to avoid such gatherings as much as possible. These initiatives demonstrates the willingness and determination that the firm has to protect its employees.

It is also evident that the organization is spending on regular research on how to find the virus. Through such initiatives, new knowledge will emerge on how to manage the virus in a workplace environment. it is evident that through such initiatives, the organization will have the opportunity to advise its employees on measures that they need to take to fight the virus. The company is currently using various platforms to communicate new information about the virus and how all stakeholders can take different responsibilities to keep everyone safe. These steps will help in guiding the behavioral change at the organization. In fact, the expected change that will take place in this firm will be under the guidance of the management.

The management will be effective in positively influencing this behavior change because of its commitment to engage all the employees in policy formulation. Currently, the firm is holding a weekly videoconferencing program where employees can share their ideas with the management on how they can resume their normal work even as the virus continue to pose a major threat to lives of everyone. Through such consultative forums, the organization is creating an environment where everyone can participate in policy formulations. They will develop a new behavioral policy with ease because of the opportunity granted to them to share their ideas. Every employee will feel respected and valued when they are allowed to take part in such major policy issues within the company.

Checking Management System Effectiveness through Auditing

The Managing Director needs to understand the difference between a workplace inspection and an audit. Although the two may appear to be the same in terms of the process, they significantly differ in terms of their focus. Workplace inspection focuses on identifying various hazards in the workplace. In this case, the normal internal inspection will focus on how effectively employees can be protected from the virus when they return to work from offices. Inspection also involves providing a communication to the relevant internal authority on the identified weaknesses and steps needed to address them. Relevant internal stakeholders are expected to work on the information provided by making changes necessary and adjusting systems and structures based on the report.

An audit focuses on the process that an organization is using to address specific hazards meant to protect workers. Unlike an inspection that seeks to identify possible threats to employees, an audit seeks to determine how the organization is addressing these risks. An auditor is expected to provide a report about the strength and weaknesses of the system and processes that the organization is using to manage risks. It will explain whether the company has the capacity to protect its workers if current systems are used. It also provides a detailed report on how the system can be improved based on the national or international practices. Unlike workplace inspection report that is mainly used by internal managers, an audit report can be used by external stakeholders, such as the government, to assess compliance of the organization to standard practices.

The director should understand the fact that there are a number of benefits of using external auditors instead of internal workers to undertake health and safety audits. One of the benefits is that it will demonstrate to both the internal and external stakeholders that it has nothing to hide in its effort to create a safe workplace environment. It will demonstrate to the workers that the firm is keen on embracing national and international best practices in protecting their health. Such initiatives will make them motivated. External workers tend to be more objective than internal assessors who may desire to please the management by providing a favorable report. Their goal will be to provide an accurate report based on specific standards without fearing any reproach from the top management unit. External audits will also make it easy for the company to get national and international certifications, which will improve its image and brand strength in the market.

Identifying Data Used To Monitor Health and Safety Performance

It will be critical for the management to collect data that will be used as health and safety performance indicators. One of the health and safety indicators will be the spread of the virus among workers soon after resuming their responsibilities in their respective offices. Various measures have been taken to limit the spread of the virus among workers as discussed in the scenario. One of the best indicators of the effectiveness of this system is to conduct regular tests among the workers. The goal of such tests will not only be to separate those with the virus from the rest of the population but to also determine the rate at which it is spreading. A slow rate of virus spread will be an indicator of success of the current measures that the management is putting in place.

The management can also consider determining the level of happiness of its employees with the measures that are already in place. When the management determines that workers are pleased with measures and steps that are in place to protect them, it will be an indicator that the firm is performing well. The information about the virus spread has become common and these employees will only be happy when they are aware that their employer is doing everything possible to protect them. The audit reports can also be collected and used as health and safety performance indicators. The Managing Director can assess these reports to determine the view of other stakeholders about the performance of this firm. Internal workplace inspections should also be maintained to help determine the progress that the company is making to enhance safety of its employees as soon as they resume working in their offices.

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IvyPanda. (2022, February 28). Managing Risks for Those Working From Home and the Health: The Safety Adviser’s Point of View. https://ivypanda.com/essays/managing-risks-for-those-working-from-home/

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IvyPanda. (2022, February 28). Managing Risks for Those Working From Home and the Health: The Safety Adviser’s Point of View. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/managing-risks-for-those-working-from-home/

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"Managing Risks for Those Working From Home and the Health: The Safety Adviser’s Point of View." IvyPanda, 28 Feb. 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/managing-risks-for-those-working-from-home/.

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IvyPanda. "Managing Risks for Those Working From Home and the Health: The Safety Adviser’s Point of View." February 28, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/managing-risks-for-those-working-from-home/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Managing Risks for Those Working From Home and the Health: The Safety Adviser’s Point of View." February 28, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/managing-risks-for-those-working-from-home/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Managing Risks for Those Working From Home and the Health: The Safety Adviser’s Point of View'. 28 February.

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