What springs to mind when you think about occupational health and safety (OHS)? Tiresome rules and regulations? An under-researched topic? A dull, compliance-based aspect of human resource management (HRM)? A litany of sins in the international airline industry, ‘burnout’ galore in the international call centre industry and failing safety cultures in the international nuclear power industry should shake off some of these commonly held beliefs.
Occupational health and safety (OHS) is a complex area that interacts widely with a broader spectrum of business interests and concerns. But to date, OHS has been confined to the periphery of HRM, where its role, influence and importance have, to a large degree, been overlooked. This text sets out to reposition OHS in HRM and business agendas.
The text is aimed at student, practitioner and professional academic audiences who seek a broader understanding of the relationship and interaction between HRM principles, policies and practices, as well as a range of contemporary OHS issues and debates. Of particular interest is the extent to which HRM offers the optimal conditions for ‘good practice’ in OHS management, which calls in turn for the scrutiny of HRM’s underlying philosophy, as well as the impact of HRM principles, policies and practices on health and safety management and OHS outcomes.
The book is organised into two main parts, the first of which sets out to unravel the complex range of political, economic and social factors affecting OHS policy, practice and outcomes. These factors combine to provide an explanatory framework for analysing a wide range of primary and secondary research material on OHS policy and practice in the international airline, call centre and nuclear power industries.
I have written this book with a broad audience in mind and with the primary goal of stimulating interest and debate in the subject area. Particular importance is attached to the experiences and perceptions of those employees subject to contemporary management approaches, perhaps at the cost of a more balanced perspective that involves greater contribution from employers. However, I believe this is justifiable on the grounds that the book is directed towards separating the rhetoric of HRM, both as a concept and as an approach to people management, from the reality of employees’ perceptions and experiences. In doing so, a range of challenges for policymakers is provided on a range of critical OHS issues.