The functions, roles, and responsibilities of the human resource professional (HRP) and Those of the safety professional (SP) greatly parallel one another. Both have the tasks of influencing worker behavior that benefits an organization. Both need to overcome organizational perceptions that their activities are merely overhead expenses that hinder productivity. To be most effective both need to integrate their activities with those of an organization's overall operations, structure and objectives. As with the HRP, the SP also plays the roles of service provider, in that they both have specialized knowledge to be shared with employees and management; advocate, in that they must ensure that company policies on personnel and safety issues are administered fairly and consistently; and business partner whereby they both must be aware of the impact that their decisions may have on productivity.
The HRP and SP must continually maintain a thorough knowledge of their respective and ever changing disciplines. Both are often, if not always, confronted with management resistance due to differing agendas (it may be perceived the HRP and SP are a hindrance to time lines and productivity). Thus, to be most effective, the HRP and SP need to be confident and knowledgeable of their respective professions and be able to illustrate to management how their activities can be melded into and be a part of management's strategic planning and actually increase productivity and competitiveness.
Workplace injuries have a dramatic impact on an organization's profitability and competitiveness. All too often management's emphasis is on complying with laws covering workplace safety and health laws. While compliance is necessary and required, focusing only on compliance may be short-sighted and not always be the same thing as creating a safe workplace. If the employer truly wants to reduce costs related to workplace injuries, he or she must go beyond compliance and focus on worker behavior and organizational structure. The same may be said of complying with traditional human resource issues such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Policies aimed solely at complying with safety and human resource-related regulations will not take into consideration the "big picture" of the impact that such compliance activities have on worker behavior or organizational structure.
Many of today's workers also deal with stress brought on by concerns over such job security and family issues. Corporate and government downsizing are making many workers anxious about their future. Nowadays, work occurs at a faster pace and is increasingly competitive. Economic factors usually require that both spouses work which can be especially stressful for those who must contend with children and child care. In addition, many workers must find a way to take care of their aging parents. This is especially difficult for those who live far away from their parents…. a situation not uncommon in today's society.