How Social Dialogue Enhances Safety and Health at Work

April 28, 20222:58 pm1573 views
How Social Dialogue Enhances Safety and Health at Work
image source: Awareness Days

Keeping your business up and running is  vital, but have you added employees’ safety and health at work to your priority list? According to the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention (OSH), governments, companies, and employees must all work together to provide a safe and healthy working environment. This is maintained by a system of clearly defined rights, obligations, and duties, with the principle of prevention given the highest importance. Implementing social dialogue will encourage a safe and healthy workplace that is upheld at all levels. To commemorate World Day for Safety and Health at Work, here is how social dialogue enhances safety and health at work.

Understanding Social Dialogue

Social dialogue is defined as any form of negotiation and consultation, as well as the exchange of information between or among members of governments, employers, and employees on matters of mutual interest in economic and social policy. Social dialogues encourage management and employees in identifying workplace improvements collaboratively. A partnership between management and employees results in responses to challenges that are important for company success, while also fostering a dynamic work environment with healthy employees. A system for workplace dialogue in which employers, employees, and trade union representatives could address occupational health and safety measures has proven to contribute to organizational success.

Adapting to COVID-19

During the COVID-19 crisis, the social dialogue was essential to ensuring that the planned measures were implemented. The scope of communication was further increased throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to include collaboration between the labor and public health sectors. Workplaces have a role to play in the overall mitigation of community spread in such public health crises since they are settings where individuals frequently meet in close vicinity. Furthermore, employers must supply enough Personal protective equipment, like masks and hand sanitizers, to employees at no cost. Companies, in general, are also involved in the national decision-making process to offset the impact of COVID-19.

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Social dialogue helps improve the quality of Occupational Safety and Health Convention (OSH) policies and initiatives by increasing ownership and commitment among employees. One small example of social dialogue in the workplace is the inclusion of employees in creating company policy, such as in deciding whether to go with a work-from-anywhere (WFA) setup or fully going back to the office (WFO). Employers cannot risk forcing WFO policy if some employees have reasons to stick with hybrid working due to health reasons, so social dialogue is necessary. Employers must guarantee that workspaces, machinery, equipment, and processes under their control are safe and do not pose a health risk to the greatest extent practically possible. 

Companies can do better in their efforts to promote inclusive and sustainable transformation when the right dialogue settings are in place. There must be open communication and strong interaction between employees and managers in order to build a good culture. This should help employees feel more at ease discussing issues and concerns. And finally, employers and top management must also show leadership and commitment to occupational safety and health.

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