safety and Health
Why are safety and health important? How would you approach designing a program that would enhance a safe and healthy environment for your workers? Why would you employ this approach? What specific approaches might you avoid and why?
Safety and heath of workers in any working environment is very important. Every employer has legal responsibilities to ensure that their employees work in a safe and healthy environment. This is not only to the benefit of the employees but to also that of the employer. Poor health and safety leads to accidents and illnesses of the employees which can be detrimental to any employer in terms of guilt, poor profits and also prosecution. The right approach to ensuring safe and healthy working environments is not just about doing the minimum required, but also, legal requirements have to be followed.
Good health and safety practices improve an employer’s reputation with customers, regulators and the employees. One of the organizations which has come out strongly, to ensure the effective safety and health practices are implemented at various places of work is AIHA. Its mission is to promote healthy and safe environments, by advancing science, principles, practice, and value of industrial hygiene and occupational and environmental health and safety. (Cooper, 1998)
Health and Safety Designed Programs
In order to ensure that workers are protected from harsh environments that can lead to them dying or even getting sick, a program has to be designed to ensure that they have safe and healthy working environments. Communication between an employer and an employee is very important. Employees can be made to understand the health and safety procedures available. This can be made available through training.
An employer must provide training to his employees to ensure that they know how to work safely, and without risks to health, they know about their health and safety policy, how to implement it and the part they have to play. The training will also create an awareness of their health and safety responsibilities towards themselves, their colleagues and visitors who come to their working environments. Employees may also need training for them to adhere to environmental regulations such as working with hazardous, controlled substances or even gases.
Recreational service unit should be provided in any working environment. Recreational activities ensure lifelong practice of healthy activities. Coordination of recreational activities and working makes it possible to track injuries, promote individual counseling and also public health. This allows the employees to have both physical and emotion wellbeing which will enable them to be productive. An employer should also design a program regarding smoking.
He should be able to create smoking zones within the workplace. The workers should be made to respect the fact that certain areas within the working premise are smoking free zones. Besides the fact that it will protect non-smoking workers from taking in the emitted smoke, it will also protect the premise from fire breakouts. It has been noted that cigarette smokers are absent from work on average 5-6 days per year more than non-smokers. Hence, employers should even go ahead to teach their employees on the evils associated with smoking.
The probability of fire breakouts in any working environment should be reduced and proper precaution taken, in the case of it occurring. Some of the factors that contribute to fire breakouts in work places include: Poor management and maintenance, improper storage of combustibles, and unsafe electrical wiring and lighting. Some of the measures that can be taken to reduce fire incidents in a workplace are numerous. Therefore this calls for the designing of a program which will ensure that the incidents are reduced to a minimum.
Buildings should be constructed with fire retardant materials so that they do not catch fire easily. Combustibles that are not frequently used should be discarded from any working premise or they should be stored in a fire retardant compartment. Materials and equipments used for wiring should meet the requirements of National electric code. Last but not least, all electric equipments (fuses, junctions, and outlet boxes) should be kept free of grease and dust. (Cooper, 1998)
Workers should put on personal protective equipments and clothing at all times. This depends with the type of work one is involved in. These protective equipments protect workers from injuries when they are in their work places. An employer should ensure that they are put on at all times in the premises. These offer protection to various parts of the body.
There are those that offer head protection, eye protection, Respiratory protection, Hearing protection, Hand protection, and foot protection. There are those that offer protection to the body and they come as body coverings, then we have the first aid box which is a prerequisite in any working environment. Some of the protective equipments include; hard hats, safety glasses, goggles, earplugs, just to mention but a few. (Quinn, 1988)
Good hygiene should be established in work places if the employees are to be assured of being healthy. A program should be designed to ensure that all work premises have clean toilets, good sewerage system and clean water. Polluted water can be a cause of many water borne diseases such as dysentery, cholera and typhoid among the employees. A good water source should be established by an employer prior to starting any business premise. The water source should be reliable in the sense that it does not dry up. The water should be tapped and treated just to ensure that it is safe for drinking.
There should be a good sewerage system in a work premise. The effluents and wastes can be a source of diseases to the employees if they are not discarded appropriately. For example, there should be a good soakage pit that can contain the effluents and wastes from the work premise. An employer should ensure that his working premise has sufficient number of toilets that are safe for using. They should have water for flushing, should be well ventilated and kept in perfect condition.
These programs should be implemented to offer employees a good and safe environment to work in. However, there are some approaches which cannot produce the desired results in terms of ensuring safety and good health of employees. In the case a program is designed for this purpose, it should be done in a gentle way to avoid startling the employees. Example, banning smoking in work premises should be done gradually to prevent the smoking workers from ignoring their duties. They should not feel discriminated upon. Force should not be used by an employer when he wants to introduce a new program in a workplace. (Holden, et al, 1997)
Other than that, the program should not be temporal. It should be there to last for as long as possible. Introducing and adopting a program that is going to last for a short period is pointless. Actually, it is both time and money consuming. For example, adopting a training program that is going to educate workers on health and safety issues is good. But if the training is going to stop and an employer acquires new employees, then what he had already started would all go down the drain.
Therefore, it is important for an employer to ensure that he encourages the employees to support the health and safety programs put in place, for it is for their own good. (Reason, 1993). The programs, might be hard, expensive, or time consuming to come up with. Implementing the programs may also be a bit challenging. But it has been noted that their end results are really good and effective in any working environment.
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Bardwell, I. and Holden, L; (1997): Human resource management; a contemporary perspective; London; Financial Times,; pp 92-97
Cooper, D. (1998): Improving Safety Culture. A Practical Guide; Chichester: John Wiley
Reason, J. (1993): Managing the Management Risk: New Approaches to Organizational Safety; Hove: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Quinn, R.E. (1988): Beyond Rational Management. San Francisco: Josses-Bass. Rutledge.