Health and Safety in the Workplace
Health and safety in the workplace is referred to as occupational health and safety and most countries of the world have rules and regulations concerning this issue. The International Labour Organization and the World Health Organization are also involved in this issue to protect the mental, social and physical well being of all workers. These organizations set down standards that world governments should use in enacting their laws.
There are several reasons why all companies are expected to follow health and safety regulations in the workplace. The first is moral because no employee should have to neither put himself/herself at risk in the work environment nor engage in any activity that will put another person at risk. It also makes good economic sense to make sure that there are regulations in place to ensure employees follow safety regulations because of the loss of time for both the employee and the employer if a person gets hurt on the job. If an accident does happen at work and is deemed to be the result of the lack of safety features, the employer is liable for paying the medical costs. There is also a legal matter involved in this issue because an injured employee or the family could sue an employer if an accident happens.
Each industry and workplace has different regulations for the health and safety of the employees. The employer or a designated third party has to do a risk assessment to determine what hazards exist in a specific workplace. The hazards are anything that could cause injury to one of the employees. For example, construction workers are required to wear hard hats at all times when on the job and any visitors or supervisors that come to a site are also required to wear these hats. When working on high buildings, workers are required to wear a harness that will catch them if they happen to fall.
A risk assessment of the workplace does not just involve identifying the possible hazards. It also involves identifying all the people that could be affected by this hazard and how they could be affected. The assessors have to evaluate the level of risk involved and make recommendations to the employer about the regulations or safety features that need to be put in place. This is why many industries require the employees to wear protective clothing such as noise reducing headphones, special footwear, goggles, etc.
Some of the common hazards that affect the health and safety of employees include:
- Wet and slippery surfaces that can cause slips and falls
- The use of dangerous machinery
- Excessive noise that could damage hearing
- The use of chemical agents
Workplace health and safety also looks at issues of stress. Some working situations are more stressful than others and the employees need to have access to qualified professionals who can help them work through certain issues. Bullying and harassment in the workplace also fall into this domain and all industries have rules governing how employees should behave toward their co-workers.