Occupational safety is good for 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.
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