Protecting Your Workforce

Workers have rights. That’s because humans have rights.

When we agree to work for someone, we agree to trade our time and energy in exchange for something, usually money, which provides us with the means to purchase food, shelter, transportation and health care for ourselves and our families.

What workers rarely agree to is to be killed for money, or to be injured in exchange for a paycheck. This is why all the various safety compliance requirements exist. It is why companies are held liable for injuries workers sustain on the job.  These laws, while a bit of a legal hassle, are there to protect employees from injury caused by employers exploiting labor and unnecessarily introducing risk into the work environment. And yes, this does happen and yes, workers deserve to be protected from that.

I’ve participated in my fair share of safety committees over the years. I’ve put together safety policies to satisfy OSHA requirements and common sense. At my first big job out of college at an animal control shelter, I was able to reduce our injury rate so much that we actually got a refund from our insurance company despite increasing our volunteer work hours dramatically.

I was able to do all that by instituting effective safety training programs.  Programs that taught our staff and volunteers how to avoid common injuries (which in the case of the shelter work was – a program called – how not to get bit).

Nowadays I teach how to stop harassment and bullying in the workplace. To me, it’s all part of what should be ongoing safety training for your staff.

Too often employers treat sexual harassment training as a compliance hassle. It’s actually a safety issue.  Harassment is a crime in pretty much every state for a reason. The harm it causes is real. It’s not just protected classes in the workplace who are protected. Everyone is. It’s just that when you add the economic impact of it happening in the workplace into the mix, you also have additional monetary damages that are sustained as a result of the problem.

This isn’t just about holding employers responsible for the sometimes trollish behavior of their employees. It’s about ensuring that all your employees are able to work in a safe environment.

No one should have to endure harassment to receive a paycheck. I have yet to read an employment contract that says – in exchange for your time and energy – we will repay you with crap wages, limited advancement due to your gender, skin color, ethnicity or any other arbitrary reason we may have, AND we reserve the right to harass and abuse you endlessly. No one would sign such an employment agreement!

Employers have not only a legal obligation to protect their workforce; they have a moral obligation to do so as well. If you don’t know how to protect your employees from harassment and bullying or discrimination, learn the skills required. Only then can you protect them from abusive behavior in the workplace.

See: for learning opportunities


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