Many decades ago, everything was stacked against employees. Bosses and factory owners could easily replace workers that complained about their working conditions and often did not bother to maintain workplaces in a safe and hygienic manner. The birth and growth of unions led to the formation of Health and Safety boards and the advent of basic safety regulations for the workplace. While many people sneer at and joke about Health and Safety regulations, there are few workers who would return to the older, pre-Victorian times when going to work could mean dying on the job, leaving their family with no income and no legal recourse to claim compensation. Why Safety Legislation Matters
Safety legislation protects workers of all types, regulating the number of hours worked without a break, and allowing them to return to their families safely every evening. Working for too many hours without any rest or breaks can cause extreme tiredness and boredom in workers. Tired workers perform poorly and become unsafe when operating machinery: when inattention can cause injuries or even deaths. In extreme cases, the mental stress of an uncaring workplace can be the trigger for dramatic and extreme cases of, for example, workplace killings by employees pushed past the breaking point.
If workers are taught how to work safely and responsibly, with maximum efficiency, this soon becomes second nature, keeping that worker safe for his or her entire working life. Any new employees being tutored by this safe worker will pick up the same good habits and soon the entire workforce will be happy and safe at work.
Safe Workers are Happy Workers
The enforcement and adherence to safety legislation is good for morale in the workplace. Coming to work and being unsure if you will be going home in the same physical condition that you are in at the beginning of the day can erode self-confidence and make workers second-guess themselves. Safety regulations are designed to give workers peace of mind and knowledge of how to escape injury and death, and should also provide assurance that should the worst happen, the worker’s family will be taken care of and hospital bills paid promptly.
Compliant Companies are Protected Too!
Much safety legislation, if properly implemented works to protect the company from law suits, fines and citations. If the company can provably demonstrate that an unexpected event was a pure accident, with no particular flaw in the system or fabric of the building to blame, the company is unlikely to suffer from a large fine or citation. Another point for companies to bear in mind, especially in this age of social media when word can spread practically around the globe in mere minutes, is that no one will work for an unsafe company – unless they are so desperate for the job that they are willing to take risks with their own, and presumably other, lives… Companies should also bear in mind that word of poor business practise travels fast and underground and may find themselves being ignored by recruitment companies and colleges and therefore losing out on some of the best young minds and workers that are coming into the job-market. This can send the business into a spiral of decline, culminating in the business becoming bankrupt as the quality of work is not good enough for the customers, who go elsewhere for their products and services.
Sarah writes for Qeedle the business blog, about all things related to running a business.