Health and Safety in Workplace
Safety in the workplace is a concept that can never be overemphasized. It is important to have a safe and healthy environment for each and everyone one to work at. You can’t get maximum productivity from staff when they don't have a safe space to work at. And only a healthy team can double productivity. While profit is the sole aim of a business, it should not be at the expense of workers safety and health.
Workplace health and safety which is also known as occupational health and safety refers to the rights of each and every single employee regardless of their industry to carry out their daily work routine in a safe and healthy work environment. Most persons think that health and safety in the workplace only applies to certain industries such as the manufacturing and construction industry, this is wrong. Occupational health and safety applies to all industries from your manufacturing industry to the health industry.
According to the world Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labor Organizations (ILO) "Occupational health should aim at: the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social wellbeing of workers in all occupations; the prevention amongst workers of departures from health caused by their working conditions; the protection of workers in their employment from risks resulting from factors adverse to health; the placing and maintenance of the worker in an occupational environment adapted to his physiological and psychological capabilities;”. Simply put health and safety is about avoiding injuries and poor health in the workplace.
It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure the safety of everyone within their organization. This responsibility does that extend to only their employee’s but also to everyone within their business premises including customers and visitors.
Importance of health and safety in the workplace
Nobody plans to go to work to get injured or fall ill, rather people go to work to earn a living. Everyone desires to work in a safe and healthy environment. Health and safety is paramount in any organization hence the adoption of the slogan “Safety First” in so many organizations. It is the duty and responsibility of all employers to guarantee the safety and protection of their employees. This has led to most companies observing all necessary safety procedures. Better safety records improve an organizations image and makes in more attractive for prospective employees. The following are importance of safety at the workplace:
- Higher Productivity: One of the upsides to a better health and safety work culture is that it leads to better productivity among staff members as they feel safe. The time they would have used in worrying about safety issues is better utilised into more productive ideas.
- Improved Cooperate and Public Ratings: Nobody wants to work with an organization that does not care about the safety of their employees. Also nobody would want to do business with an organization that has a poor safety rating as they would feel that their products would be less safer as well since they don’t focus on safety measures.
- Corporate Financial loss: Having a great health and safety work environment saves you a lot of Money. Money that would have been used in payment of damages, attorney’s , and compensation are utilised in a much more profitable manner that would better the business. Having better health and safety workplace saves you from lots of lawsuits and class actions which would have resulted due to poor health and safety measures.
- Lesser accidents and death: Implementing safety procedures helps reduces the rate of accidents within an organization and also helps reduce the risks of serious injury or even death
- Damage Prevention: an accident at the workplace can lead to damages to official properties which in turn would cost so much to replace. Certain accidents in the workplace have the capacity to bring about temporary closure of the facility for repairs and such repairs don’t come cheap. Also the organization might also be shut down indefinitely while the authorities investigate what led to the incident, this would lead to loss of revenue on the part of the organization, so it’s best to practice to follow all safety guidelines to avoid such situations. This risk is better prevented by implementing health and safety in the workplace. Remember “prevention is better than cure”
Regular Health and Safety Training: It is importantly to hold regular health and safety training for staff members. This should be to remind them of all necessary health and safety protocols. It is important for them to know what is expected of them in case of any safety emergency no matter how little or large the challenge is. This would help reduce the panic rate and reduce casualties in case of any emergency.
Risk assessment : Risk assessment involves identifying and annualizing potential future events that might pose as a health and safety risk within an organization and coming up with ideas and solution (s) to this risk and how best to avoid them or reduce their impact to the nearest minimum should they occur. Risk analysis also puts into consideration factors that are responsible for this health and safety risks and how best to totally avoid them in the future.
Health and Safety Measures: Installation and use of health and safety equipment are also very important safety measures in the prevention of health and safety incidents. Individuals should make use of health and safety equipment such as use of Personal Protective equipment (PPE) within certain zones. Organizations should also install safety equipment within strategic locations within the organizations such as fire extinguishers, first aid boxes, safety nets and much more.
Reporting unsafe work conditions and items: Always encourage employees to report unsafe work areas or items. This would go a long way in reducing the drastic effects of accidents in the workplace. It can be a faulty equipment, an old or rusty item, a weak base and much more.
Reduce Workplace Stress: It’s important to encourage a stress free work place. Don’t overburden employees with too much of a workload. We all have our targets and it is not productive to place the burden of unrealistic targets on employee’s. Employee’s might try to cut corners thereby jeopardizing all relevant health and safety protocols in place just to try and achieve the target. Having a target as an organization is important, but it should not be unrealistic.
Promoting Regular Breaks: Employees are humans and can easily feel fatigue and tired. By introducing regular breaks, you encourage the employee’s to take some time off to rest and relax coming back much refreshed and energized. This would help boost the morale of the employee’s as a refreshed and energized employee is bound to be more productive than a tired and fatigued employee. Also, this would go a long way in preventing accidents at the work place.
Accessible Exit: Its best to put into consideration easily accessible exit points in cases of emergency when starting up an organization. This makes it easier during emergencies and also helps prevent stampeding.
Safety devices and their importance:
Safety Devices are necessary tools in the workplace. It is important to always make use of all necessary and available safety devices at a workplace. Although safety devices vary across different industries. Below are some of the basic safety devices:
Safety Boots: Safety boots are mandatory in construction and manufacturing industries. It comprises of a reinforce metal sheet which protects the feet in case of impact when a heavy object falls on it.
Fire Extinguisher: Fire extinguishers comes in handy when it comes to quenching little fire outbreaks. It is important to note that fire extinguishers have their limitations and can’t be used to combat all forms of fires. Its best to read up on fire extinguishers. Fire extinguisher is one safety tool that can be seen across multiple platforms.
Smoke and Fire Detectors: Smoke and fire detectors are necessary in discovering unseen and undetected fire and smoke incidents. They give at warnings at the slightest detection of smoke or fire this helps prevent would have been major fire outbreaks. It is important to always have a routine test on this device to ensure they operate correctly.
Gloves: Gloves are used across multiple platforms and come in various textures depending on the work type. Gloves come in (Rubber, latex, chemical resistant, electrical insulated, leather work, thermal insulated, heat resistant, Kevlar reinforced, etc.) gloves basically protect the arms and hands. It is important to find a glove that suits your job as each type of glove has its limitations.
Safety Clothing: Safety clothing is industry relative. Those in the construction industry are bound to use reflective jackets, googles and sometimes noise buds while their counterparts in the health industry make use of surgical masks, surgical gowns, surgical nets etc. Safety clothing helps protect workers from various safety issues they might encounter.
Health and safety in the workplace is for the safety of each and every one within an organization. It is important that safety protocols not only protect employees but also the employer and also protects the image and rating of the organization.
By Joseph Sordi, SVP
Strategic Security Corp.