The importance of communication between human resources and safety can not be emphasized more than when tragedy hits. While we all understand that accidents happen, but one has to wonder if with the right communication that certain tragedies could be prevented.
The tragedy occurred on August 30, 2022, when a baggage handler died after her hair got stuck in the conveyor belt at the New Orleans airport. The woman was offloading luggage from an airplane that had recently landed.
The obvious first question is how did this happen? Was her hair tied back? What were the guidelines of hair in working in this area? Does OSHA have any guidelines?
When incidents such as this result in severe injury or tragedy, investigations begin to occur from both sides the safety side as well as human resources. My first question would be did this incident have any correlation with the Crown Act that was recently passed in the state of Louisiana.
So, what is that and how does all of this relate? The CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World of Natural Hair” and the crown act, upon its signing by the governor prohibited employment discrimination based on hairstyles or textures historically associated with race. The new law does not address potential conflicts between an applicant’s or employee’s protected hairstyle and an employer’s bona fide safety rules or measures.
The law went into effect on August 1, 2022 (this was just 30days before the incident occurred). It was recommended that employers take a look at employee handbooks and policies, and to provide training and education for managers and supervisors.
So, the question is- did the human resources and safety representative work through this? This is the type of miss that can happen in both small and large businesses alike. Human Resources might assume that it is a safety issue and vice-versa. At the end of the day, in this case was this an oversight on both human resources and safety?
While we can not begin to say that If the human resources department and safety department did review the handbooks, job procedures and safety that this would not have happened. How does human resources and safety manage these types of scenarios without going to far?