Elements of an effective accountability system


In the bid to maintain a safe and healthful workplace, it is very important that employees are held accountable in engaging in safe work procedures after being provided with all the tools and resources needed in achieving this. When an individual is held accountable, his or her performance is (1) evaluated with respect to formal standards and (2) results in the application of positive or negative consequences.


The condition of accountability in the workplace doesn’t just happen. To be effective, accountability requires careful design and performance of a supportive accountability system.                       For an accountability system to be effective, it must possess the following elements:

(A)Established standards: in the form of company policies or rules that clearly convey standards of performance in safety and health to employees. It’s important that employees understand safety policies and rules, and why they are relevant. They need to understand the natural and system consequences of their personal behaviour.

Natural consequences refer to the hurt or health the employee will experience as a direct result of their behaviour. Examples include injury, illness, and health.

System consequences refer to the negative or positive consequences administered by the organization as a result of their personal behaviour. Examples of these include discipline or positive recognition.

(B) Provision of resources and psychosocial support: for the employer to be justified, he or she must provide the physical resources and psychosocial support to allow employees to achieve the standards set.

Physical resources include safe tools, equipment, material, facilities and environment.

Psychosocial support includes safe work procedures, reasonable workload and scheduling, suitable employee relations and effective leadership.

(C) A system of performance evaluation:  this specifies acceptable behaviour. Examples of measured safety behaviour at various levels include:

Top/Mid-level managers: Measurement at this level includes personal behaviour, safety activities, and statistical results, such as following company safety and health rules, enforcing safety and health rules, arranging safety and health training and workers compensation costs.

Supervisors: Measurement should include personal safety behaviour and safety activities which they are able to control, such as ensuring employees have safe materials and equipment, conducting safety inspections and meetings, and following and enforcing safety rules .

Employees: Measurement generally includes personal behaviour, such as complying with safety and health rules, and reporting injuries and hazards.

(D) Effective consequences: Effective consequences will change the behaviour of the worker in the desired direction. These can either be positive or negative.                                               The nature of, and significance of consequences is determined by the employee receiving the consequences. One particular kind of consequence that was effective for a certain employee might not work for another employee in another situation or circumstance. Negative consequences include verbal warnings, written reprimands, suspension from work and termination. 

Positive consequences include personal recognition, raises, promotion and money.

(E) Appropriate application of consequences :  An accountability plan must address all levels of management, not just line employees. Discipline is administered only if justified.         It is important that management meet all obligations to employees to be justified.                                    The safety management system should not have contributed to the noncompliance behaviour. Positive and negative consequences should not be applied based on and employee’s accident record (a result). If you don’t have an accident, you’ll get a bonus. Rather, consequences should result only from an employee’s compliance record (behaviour).

(F) An effective program evaluation. As with any system, the design and performance of an accountability system should be evaluated on using a continuous improvement model. Safety committees or other staff may be an excellent forum for this activity.

When managers and employees are held accountable for their safety and health responsibilities, they are more likely to press for solutions to safety and health problems than to present obstacles. By implementing an accountability system, positive contribution in the safety and health program is made which will ultimately lead to the maintenance of a safe and health workplace.                                                                       Safety Guide solutions is a Health, Safety and Environment solutions provider. We offer advisory services, draft HSE documentations, facilitate HSE trainings and also handle projects where HSE standards need to be complied with.

For more enquiries , please contact Goke on 07081101064 or email safetygsolutions@outlook.com


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