Managing safety and health is an integral part of managing a business. Every business requires risk assessments to check hazardous health risks. A Responsible Employer actively takes steps for employee wellness by anticipating the risks.
An effective safety management program helps to focus on improving the work environment. Every organization has its unique approach to managing the concerns. In a small business or a low-risk industry, the system may involve listening to its employees' concerns and responding to them. For large companies or in hazardous sectors, written policies and a full-time safety director is a requirement. If the company shows commitment to protecting the health of its employees, the retention, success, and legacy of the organization will always be positive.
Hazardous Health concerns in the Workplace
Every workplace has hazards, and it is everyone’s responsibility to be mindful of them and cut the harm.
Working in such an environment that involves the use of chemicals can irritate the employees while breathing. Work in the chemical and manufacturing industries involves a lot of chemicals and often gives rise to breathing issues.
Breathing in hazardous chemicals at work can put employees' health at risk. It can cause a range of respiratory diseases and conditions like asthma, pulmonary diseases, and cancers.
Some respiratory concerns are dust, isocyanates from spray paints, glues, resins, etc.
Skin irritation problems can have a considerable impact on employees and their performances. Issues at the worksite can be allergies, itching problems on arms or legs. It can also transfer from hands to other parts of the body, including eyes or mouth, risking severe infections.
Working conditions that can lead to skin problems include
- Lack of handwashing products and sanitizing substances.
- A workplace where hands are wet or in water for prolonged periods. Healthcare sector work, food preparation, metalwork, etc are some examples.
- Exposure to the sun or ultraviolet rays without practical application of adequate sunscreen.
Employees across various industries face various physical risks. The most common ones are from injury and illness such as back pain or strain on the eyes. To protect employees from such issues, employers must promote safe working practices and strive to spot patterns of hazards in the workplace.
Physical injuries in the workplace can be caused in several ways, such as
- Carrying out repetitive tasks involving manual force.
- Staying in one position for too long at Workplace.
- Electric shocks from faulty wiring.
- Damaged office equipment
Exposure to loud noise in the workplace can create hearing issues. Sometimes the use of loudspeakers and even frequent use of earphones can affect employee health. Loud noise can damage the eardrums, and in some cases, can lead to permanent hearing loss. Your Workplace needs assessment if employees have to raise their voices to talk to a colleague 2 meters away.
ILO’s Guidelines on Health Hazard of Employees
International Labor Organization's guidelines are designed as a practical tool for helping organizations (public or private). They act as a means of achieving continual improvement in workplace safety and the health of employees. These guidelines have been developed according to the internationally agreed principles. It focuses on improving the work environment, safety codes for employees, and assessment scenarios. The recommendations of these guidelines intend its usage by responsible parties and stakeholders involved.
Benefits of managing Hazardous Health in the Workplace
Employees are legally entitled to work in an environment where the employer adequately controls their health and safety risks.
Of course, no business wants to be responsible for the poor health of its employees, but despite the best efforts, workplace hazards are unavoidable.
Employers must regularly look for ways to place the health and safety of the Workforce higher on the priority list. They must develop a well-researched policy and ensure the business doesn't incur heavy losses from costly negligence.
Following are some reasons your business should strive to achieve a positive health and safety culture by eliminating hazardous health risks.
Improves Employee Wellbeing
Hazardous health incidents reduce employee engagement and affect employee wellbeing. Preventing these concerns should be a top priority for employers, as it promotes a safe culture and positively impacts employee morale. As the employees feel secure about their work environment, they will be less stressed about their workplace and will enjoy the work. The numbers in the absenteeism column will also show a positive trend. An academic study by BMC in 2015 highlights this point.
Enhances Reputation of the Organization
If you want loyal employees and create a health and safety culture, invest in handling Health hazards. When you are committed to improving the workplace, it shows you care for your employee’s health, safety, and wellbeing. They will be more loyal and enthusiastic about their work. It will make your business successful and will go a long way to keep stakeholders' trust.
Keeping Legal Consequences at bay
Employers are legally obligated to protect their workforce from harm during work. It is their duty. A foolproof safety policy must align with the company culture. It will safeguard the business against hazards, preventing legal consequences.
Health and safety are all about enabling greater productivity both ethically and financially. By promoting a robust safety culture, employers can cut the risk of a severe incident.
"If you think safety is expensive, try an accident."
A significant incident can burden an organization's reputation and budget. Employees missing workdays, investigation costs, legal fees, and much more.
How to manage the Hazardous Health risks in your workplace?
After consulting employees, the employer should set out a written policy on Hazardous Health. He must communicate the need for full commitment from all the employees.
Worker participation is an essential element of the safety management system in any organization. Employees must come up with innovative suggestions for making the policy more effective.
The employer must consult and train the employees on safety aspects. It should include all the emergency arrangements associated with their work.
Planning and Implementation
Inspect the Workplace to Identify Hazards
The Workplace is an evolving dynamic surrounding. New hazards can occur at any time. Especially if your organization brings in new equipment.
Make time to inspect the Workplace for any new signs of hazards that may have arisen. Even the simple moving around of equipment can lead to potential risks. So employers need to be mindful of that.
Identify Potential Health Hazards
Finding potential health risks is a complicated matter. You cannot view these dangers physically. It would help if you consider all the possible concerns like environmental, chemical, and ergonomic risks.
Conduct Thorough Incident Investigations
Have a plan to conduct incident investigations. Reviewing this information can also help to mitigate future risks of health hazards. These reports can help to identify risks and prevent them from occurring again.
Test the changes to make sure the concerns are dealt with in a seamless manner. Also, make sure while mitigating the earlier situation, not to create new risks of hazard. And re-survey the work environment and workplace.
Action for Improvement
Correct the hazards
- Using safe Engineering tools and facilities to drop the hazards.
- Administrative controls like changing the work practices, rotating employees, rest breaks, training programs.
- Providing personal protective equipment readily to all the employees whenever needed. For example, gloves or safety shoes.
Train employees about the hazards they may be exposed to at work and how to protect themselves. Keep records of all training. Provide a general safety orientation program as a part of the induction policy for new employees.
Build a culture of safety
- Establish effective two-way communication between the administration and employees. Respond to the needs and concerns of every employee.
- Encourage employees to go "beyond the call of duty" to ensure a safe workplace.
- Create a work environment that fosters trust, creativity, and wellness.
- Celebrate the success with the recognition platform Vantage Circle.
- Review the safety updates.
- Investigate accidents and Conduct frequent workplace inspections of specific equipment and ergonomics.
- Check the statistics for desirable learnings.
- Document all your safety efforts.
A well-implemented workplace safety program is a basic necessity. It is an ideal strategy for both employee satisfaction and company growth. Despite all the challenges, it's important to maintain a legally compliant workplace. Employers should look to create a safe work environment at all costs.
Make changes to the existing policies and regulations. Communicate with your employees and understand their concerns. Ensure they value the importance of safety and wellness. You will find out that the benefits are worth the extra cost and formalities. In the end, safety should never be optional in the workplace. Instead, employers should look at workplace safety as a moral, financial, and legal need.
To know more, check out our Corporate Wellness Guide.