In every line of work, occupational safety and health policies are extremely important. It is these policies which ensure that workers remain physically protected at all times. These occupational safety and health policies ensure that a working environment is conducive to the well-being of workers while at the same time protecting the general public from any possible dangers.
Conversely, if occupational safety and health policies are not formulated properly, dire consequences may result. Workers or members of the public may suffer injuries, businesses might be sued, legal punishment may be administered, and lives may be lost if there is a lack of proper occupational safety and health policies. Therefore, these policies are quite literally “a matter of life and death”.
General Information About Occupational Safety and Health
Although there are many ways by which the importance of occupational safety and health can be quantified, probably the most striking can be seen in this statistic: every year, around 317 million occupational injuries take place; approximately 321,000 of these injuries lead to death. In addition to the loss of lives, the lack of proper occupational safety and health policies inflicts a significant financial burden. According to the International Social Security Association (ISSA), financial costs which stem from workplace accidents use up around 4% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) every year.
The risks of injury and accidents are present in every job and every workplace; however, some are at greater risk than are others. The jobs in which occupational injuries and fatalities are most common are those regarded as “informal” jobs such as those in agriculture, fishing, mining, and construction.
Due to their unique characteristics, workers in these industries are in particular need of proper enforcement of occupational safety and health policies. In some countries, annual costs associated with accidents and deaths at work in these informal sectors can equal as much as 10% of the national GDP.
In most countries, economic recessions and depressions tend to have negative effects on occupational safety and health standards. This is because during such difficult economic times, corporations downsize, restructure, and outsource or transfer work to independent contractors, third-party employers, and temporary employment agencies. This in turn drives more people to take up high-risk jobs.
As an example, the recession of 2007-09 caused 23 million more people to accept such jobs. The result: a higher rate of occupational injuries and accidents because around half of all serious accidents and the majority of all fatal accidents at the workplace are suffered by people in these jobs.
Primary Occupational Safety and Health Principles
There are several key principles which underpin all occupational safety and health policies. These principles are also incorporated into international labour standards. This way, it can be ensured that all work takes place in a healthy, safe environment.
The most important principle that underpins all occupational safety and health policies is that every worker has rights. Workers, employers, and governments are to work together to ensure the protection of rights through adequate occupational safety and health standards. When work conditions are not conducive to the physical and mental well-being of any worker, occupational safety and health will be jeopardized.
All occupational safety and health policies and programmes must also fulfill two goals: protection and prevention. Of these two, the more important is prevention. Occupational safety and health policies and programmes should first and foremost prevent the occurrence of accidents in any workplace. They should also promote the continuous improvement of occupational safety and health standards. By doing so, the risks of injuries, diseases, and deaths at work will be greatly reduced.
Protective occupational safety and health policies are those which are geared towards attaining excellent occupational safety and health standards by protecting workers. Such policies usually involve the use of personal protective equipment or clothing by workers at a certain workplace.
Another important principle is the establishment of task forces or committees to oversee safety and health matters in the workplace. These entities will ensure that everyone at the workplace is updated about all recent incidents as well as actions taken in relation to them. They also see to it that at any meeting, workplace safety and health will be part of the agenda if recent events bring about the need to raise important points.
The Benefits of Well-Formulated Occupational Safety and Health Policies
Rich benefits and rewards await any workplace which makes the effort to carefully and thoughtfully form effective, viable occupational safety and health policies. Injuries, illnesses, and fatalities at work are greatly reduced through proper occupational safety and health policies. These reductions in turn lower total expenses, increase productivity, and improve the business’s reputation and image.
High-quality occupational safety and health policies also serve as a “bridge builder” between employer and employee. They provide evidence of management’s willingness to do right by the employees. The existence and enforcement of such policies also shows high-calibre leadership on the employers’ part. The improvement in the relationship between employer and employee makes the workplace more positive for all.
Ranaco Education & Training Institute’s Diploma in Occupational Safety & Health
If you’d like to do your part to make workplaces better for all employers and employees, Ranaco Education & Training Institute can help you do just that through our Occupational Safety & Health programme. All who graduate from this three-year course will have become well-versed in all matters pertaining to occupational safety and health. Industrial training is provided.
Students of this programme study many different topics related to occupational safety and health. Some of these topics include toxicology, fire safety, workplace inspection, accident investigation, and ergonomics.
Perhaps you really do believe that you can be trusted with employees’ lives. With the help of Ranaco Education & Training Institute, you can become just that person by mastering occupational safety and health.