Occupational health and safety deals with the health, safety, and welfare of people in employment. It deals with safeguarding the lives of those people, who, in some or the other way, are associated with the work environment. It is also concerned with the welfare of family members and dependents of the working employees.
People spend a major part of their day at the workplace. It is at work that they exercise their talents and use their expertise for the benefit of the organization that they work in. It is at the workplace that they devote their time and effort for the welfare of their company. They need to be motivated by providing them with a positive atmosphere and most importantly, security and safety at work.
Why is Occupational Health and Safety Important?
Occupational safety refers to the protection of workers from conditions that risk their overall well-being. It involves the maintenance of good working conditions and ensuring protection of workers from risks resulting from factors that are adverse to health.
Why is it important to establish occupational safety? There are many reasons. Firstly, the absence of occupational safety penalizes the government, as the State has to incur costs of employee compensation, medical treatment, and social security payments. The employing organizations also have to incur economic losses in the form of compensatory benefits that they have to pay to the employee. Secondly, they lose their goodwill among other employees as well as their customers. Also, it is a moral responsibility of an employer to ensure the safety of his/her employees. When an organization utilizes human beings as an important resource, it is the organization's duty to look after their safety.
What are the factors that need to be considered for occupational health and safety? One of the most important factors is the need for safety. Once the safety needs of an occupation are determined, it is necessary to devise effective measures to satisfy them. It is essential for the employing organization to distinguish between a hazard and a risk. A hazard is something that can prove to be harmful if not controlled. A risk refers to the probability of the occurrence of a certain outcome and is often expressed in numerical form.
After the potential risks and hazards are identified, it is important for the employing organization to evaluate the risks and ascertain the safety measures required. In order to calculate the risk, it is necessary to gauge the risk factors and analyze the severity of their adverse effects. These calculations need to be reviewed and revised periodically and changed whenever required.
When evaluating risks, the employing companies need to take into account all the different workplace hazards. Employees may have to face equipment and machinery-related injuries. They may have to suffer from physical injuries resulting from accidents at the workplace. Harmful chemicals, radiation, pollutants, and biological agents like harmful bacteria and viruses pose a threat to the life of employees.
Certain water or air pressure conditions and artificially maintained temperature conditions as well as noise from machines can cause damage to the overall health of the employees. Certain mechanical processes involve danger of causing injury. Besides these tangible risks, there are several important psychological issues to be dealt with. Employees experience work-related stress. Moreover, they might fall prey to bullying, sexual or verbal harassment, or even violence. It is very important for the employing organization to consider these hazards while planning for safety measures.
Implementation of safety measures is the essence of occupational safety. There is no point in calculating risks and documenting risk factors and hazards, if no safety measures can be put into effect. It is extremely important for the employing organizations to devise feasible safety measures and ensure their strict implementation. After all, we are dealing with the safety of human life which is indeed priceless.