Getting a Safe and Healthy Work Environment

Topics: Human resource management, Occupational safety and health, Human resources Pages: 5 (1538 words) Published: April 12, 2013
Exemplary, Georgia-Pacific LLC shows how an organization has transformed its attitudes towards safety and health from one of its many priorities in the 20th century to a corporate value in the 21th century. Georgia-Pacific LLC

Founded in 1927 and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia-Pacific LLC (Georgia-Pacific) serves clients in the building and construction, agriculture, chemical, food service and health care industries. It is one of the world's leading manufactures of tissue, pulp, paper, packaging, building products and related chemicals. The company manages Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products, which features consumer tissue products under the Quilted Northern, Angel Soft, Brawny, Sparkle, Soft'n Gentle, Mardi Gras and Vanity Fair brands, and Dixie Consumer Products, which offers tabletop products under the Dixie brand. Georgia-Pacific maintains more than 300 facilities across North America, South America and Europe. It employs a workforce of nearly 40,000 people and has annual sales of about $20 billion. Georgia-Pacific is a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, which is a private owned company (Georgia-Pacific, 2013). Risk Management and Human Resources Management

Risk Management activities touch all functional areas of human resources (HR) as well as activities in all other business functions. The management of risk often determines whether an activity is pursued or not, and this always calls for human resource activities. HR risks can be classified into one of the following five areas: Legal compliance, security, business continuity, workplace privacy, and safety and health (DeNisi & Griffin, 2011). This paper concentrates on the aspects of safety and health. Safety and Health Hazards. Safety hazards are “those conditions in the workplace that have the potential to cause harm to an employee.” (DeNisi & Griffin, 2011, p.264). Health hazards are “elements of the work environment that more slowly and systematically result in damage to an employee's health.” (DeNisi & Griffin, 2011, p.264). Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act). The OSH Act became effective on April 28, 1971 and covers most private sector employers and their workers, in addition to some public sector employers and workers in the United States (Sec. 4 OSH Act). Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). With the OSH Act, Congress created OSHA, as part of the U.S. Department of Labor. The OSH Act is covered either through federal OSHA or through an OSHA-approved state plan (Sec. 18 OSH Act). The mission of OSHA is “to assure so far as possible every working man or woman in the nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources.” (Byars & Rue, 2010, p.320). How Georgia-Pacific Changed its Safety Culture

Risks in the Forestry Industry
The forestry industry is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States (Toscano, 1997). Paper mills, sawmills, and plywood factories are dangerous places, where safety and healthy risks come from deafening noise, oversized razor-tooth blades, chutes with tons of lumber, and vats full of boiling water and caustic chemicals. In 2011, the rate of fatal work injury was 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in total. For the forestry industry the rate was 24.4 and for logging workers it was 102.4 (BLS, 2012). Low Safety and Health Performance till the 1990s

Till the early 1990s Georgia-Pacific had a very bad safety record. There were nine serious injuries per 100 employees each year, and 26 workers had lost their lives on the job between 1986 and 1990 (Fisher, 1997, p.165). Difficult economic conditions, low worker morale and little commitment to safety on the part of management contributed to a higher rate of injuries. For example, with great pressure the top management of Georgia-Pacific continually required keeping production lines moving without interruption, not considering the consequences. To come up to expectations of the...
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