Oc­cu­pa­tional safety is good for busi­ness

Lesotho Times - - Business -

IN the world of busi­ness to­day, con­sumers have be­come in­creas­ingly trans­par­ent such that they want to know the cir­cum­stances un­der which the goods and ser­vice they buy are pro­duced.

There­fore, the Oc­cu­pa­tional Safety and Health (OSH) is no longer an is­sue of labour re­la­tion alone but it has also be­come a busi­ness is­sue hence re­quire­ments by buy­ers in dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries and sec­tors of the econ­omy of best prac­tices such as eth­i­cal sourc­ing, bet­ter work at the heart of which is OSH of work­ers to de­ter­mine ac­cess to the mar­ket.

Ev­ery com­pany or busi­ness could re­al­ize var­i­ous ben­e­fits if they in­vest in OSH. Its im­prove­ments could rise prof­itabil­ity, com­pet­i­tive­ness and also mo­ti­vate the em­ploy­ees.

By hav­ing an ef­fec­tive OSH sys­tem the work­force could have an ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient frame­work to help min­i­mize and/or pre­vent work­place in­juries, ac­ci­dents, med­i­cal ill­nesses and even death. This would mean sav­ings for the com­pany too.

There are quite a few prin­ci­ples of oc­cu­pa­tional safety and health that are im­por­tant to con­sider such as ef­fec­tive OSH pro­ce­dures, lead­er­ship and com­mit­ment to en­hance and im­prove OSH, in­volve­ment in risk assess­ment pro­grammes, com­pe­tent and trained em­ploy­ees in the work­place, ef­fi­cient mea­sures for risk con­trol, con­tin­u­ous mon­i­tor­ing and process re­views. These prin­ci­ples ap­ply to a ma­jor­ity of or­ga­ni­za­tions, whether it is a small or large or­ga­ni­za­tion.

No mat­ter how small or large a busi­ness or com­pany is, it is al­ways im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that man­ag­ing its safety is very im­por­tant.

If you are a busi­ness owner, you are legally re­spon­si­ble for the safety of many com­po­nents of your busi­ness, such as your em­ploy­ees, other work­ers that are af­fected in the work field and also your­self. If you think about it, work­place ac­ci­dents, in­juries and med­i­cal health costs end up los­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity, ef­fi­ciency, time, le­gal pro­ceed­ings, in­sur­ance premium hikes, skills and much more. Health and safety man­age­ment con­trib­utes to all busi­ness sec­tors no mat­ter what kind and how big.

The pri­mary goal of OSH is to nour­ish and foster the work en­vi­ron­ment for all the in­di­vid­u­als in the work field. If em­ploy­ers keep ev­ery­one safe and healthy, busi­nesses could re­duce their work­ers’ med­i­cal ex­penses and in­sur­ance costs, re­duce re­turn-to-work pay­outs, and de­crease the costs for job ac­com­mo­da­tions for those em­ploy­ees who are in­jured and with med­i­cal ill­nesses.

Keep­ing every­body in the com­pany safe and healthy will surely in­crease the ef­fi­ciency and pro­duc­tiv­ity of the en­tire busi­ness, which will lead to a suc­cess­ful and good busi­ness.

There­fore, the es­tab­lish­ment of a Safety Com­mit­tee in the work­place is a le­gal re­quire­ment as per Sec­tion 98 of the Labour Code Act No.24 of 1992. Sim­i­larly, para­graph 12(2) of the In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­gan­i­sa­tion (ILO) Rec­om­men­da­tion 164 also talks to oc­cu­pa­tion safety and health and the work­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

It is re­garded as the main tool for risk man­age­ment as it cul­ti­vates safety cul­ture within the es­tab­lish­ment i.e ev­ery­one ob­serves haz­ards and re­ports them through well-es­tab­lished struc­tures of the com­mit­tee. It pro­vides free dis­cus­sions be­tween work­ers and em­ployer and sug­gests pos­si­ble so­lu­tions and ac­tion.

The same Act states that ev­ery em­ployer of more than 15 per­sons at any place of work shall es­tab­lish a Safety and Health Com­mit­tee for the pur­pose of pro­mot­ing co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the em­ployer and the em­ploy­ees in achiev­ing and main­tain­ing safe and healthy work­ing con­di­tions.

How­ever, the Act has a pro­vi­sion that where the Labour Com­mis­sioner is sat­is­fied that by rea­son of the dan­ger­ous na­ture of the plant, process or sub­stances used by an em­ployer of fewer than 15 per­sons at any place of work it is ex­pe­di­ent to do so, the Com­mis­sioner may di­rect in writ­ing that the said em­ployer shall es­tab­lish a Safety and Health Com­mit­tee.

The struc­ture of the com­mit­tee is as fol­lows: at least two rep­re­sen­ta­tives from man­age­ment and two from work­ers. Num­ber of em­ployer’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives should never be greater than that of work­ers rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

More­over, work­ers’ rep­re­sen­ta­tives should be elected by work­ers them­selves. The com­mit­tee should be chaired by the em­ployer him­self or se­nior man­ager in the com­pany.

The em­ployer shall pro­vide the com­mit­tee with such fa­cil­i­ties and as­sis­tance as are rea­son­ably re­quired for the pur­pose of car­ry­ing out such func­tions, in­clud­ing the in­spec­tion of the work premises and ma­chin­ery.

It might be of im­por­tance to give a high- light of some of the func­tions and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the safety com­mit­tee and they are as fol­lows: l To en­sure worker’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in ob­serv­ing haz­ards; l To in­crease work­ers in­ter­est in health and safety; l To re­duces work­place in­juries and ill­ness; l To in­form and ed­u­cate work­ers about health and safety is­sues; l To hold quar­terly/monthly meet­ings; l To as­sist in haz­ard iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and risk assess­ment at the work­place; l To con­duct health and safety pro­grammes; l To as­sist in haz­ard iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and risk assess­ment at the work­place; l To co­or­di­nate health and safety pro­grammes; l To con­duct ac­ci­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tions and sug­gest pre­ven­tive mea­sures for

Re­cur­rence; l To fol­low-up on cor­rec­tive ac­tions de­ter­mined as a re­sult of on­go­ing

anal­y­sis of the work­place.

The Oc­cu­pa­tional Health and Safety Com­mit­tees ob­serve the fol­low­ing haz­ards in the work­place: phys­i­cal haz­ards, me­chan­i­cal haz­ards, chem­i­cal haz­ards, bi­o­log­i­cal haz­ards, er­gonomics, psy­choso­cial haz­ards, hu­man re­la­tions at work, terms and con­di­tions of em­ploy­ment, mo­not­o­nous and ex­ces­sive work.

It is an un­de­ni­able fact that with an ef­fec­tive Health and Safety Com­mit­tee ac­ci­dents are re­duced, aware­ness of safety and health is im­proved, a broad base of ex­per­tise and ex­pe­ri­ence is avail­able for solv­ing prob­lems, co-op­er­a­tion is en­cour­aged through bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion and all work­ers have a way to ex­press their con­cerns and have them ad­dressed.

In or­der to safe­guard well-be­ing of work­ers in the work­place, the Govern­ment shall en­sure Oc­cu­pa­tional Safety and Health of all work­ers in the pri­vate, pub­lic and in­for­mal sec­tors. To achieve this ob­jec­tive, the fol­low­ing strate­gies shall be en­gaged: l Strengthen na­tional OSH sys­tem and in­fra­struc­ture with pri­mary em­pha­sis on pro­mo­tion of a pre­ven­ta­tive safety and health cul­ture at all lev­els of the so­ci­ety.

Con­tin­ues on Page 22 . . .

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