Employee Health and Safety

Employee Health and Safety

* Dr.Shanmukha Rao Padala  ** Dr.N.V.S.Suryanarayana

Employee health and safety are the areas of major concern in modern industrial organizations for promoting healthy and safe environment. Interest and concern is shown by employers, employees and their unions, government, and public and international organizations. Both complex technologies and governmental legislation have levied a special burden upon employers to maintain the physical and mental wellbeing, health and safety of their employees.

Concept of Health:

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

The joint I.L.O. /W.H.O. Committee on Organizational Health observed that industrial health is:

  1. Maintenance of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations;
  2. Prevention of ill-health among workers caused by the working conditions;
  3. Protection of workers in their employment from risks resulting from factors adverse to health; and
  4. Placing and maintenance of the worker in an occupational environment adapted to his physical and psychological equipment.

Importance of health and safety / (safety programmers):

1)      Importance of health and safety is great in influencing productivity and overall efficiency of any organization.

2)      Health and Safety measures are also significant in reducing and preventing industrial accidents.

3)      Health and Safety measures also boost morale of the employees. This helps in developing team spirit and the sense of belongingness among the employees as they see no hazards to their lives and health.

4)      Industrial health and safety programmes are useful and beneficial from the point of view of both employers as well as employees as there will be a reduction in the rate of labor turnover, absenteeism and occupational diseases.

Factories Act, 1948

Factories Act, 1948 made detailed provisions in regard to various matters relating to health & safety of the workers. These provisions impose upon the occupiers or managers certain obligations, to protect workers unwary as well as negligence from accidents and to secure for them in employment conditions conductive to their health & safety. These provisions also require the occupiers or managers to maintain inspection staff and to make provision for maintenance of health, cleanliness, prevention of overcrowding and amenities like lighting, ventilation, drinking water, etc.

Objectives

1)      To determine the regular review of safety & Health performance

2)      Supervision by an experienced worker, for staff who are not adequately trained or experienced to undertake work in a safe manner.

3)      To ensure that training will be provided for employees in handling equipment & machinery they use.

4)      To know the maintenance of register of all accidents, near misses & serious harm.

5)      In order to find company’s reaction to the accidents, injuries & provision of compensation.

6)      To find the causes for accidents.

7)      To determine whether the company have a procedure for the investigation of accidents & the results of this investigation are getting reviewed by senior management or not

8)      Provision of training in relation to emergency plans & identified hazards.

9)      Satisfaction of employees in relation to Health & Safety programs undertaken by the company.

The prevention of accidents constitutes only one segment of the function of employee maintenance. Another equal important segment is the employee’s general health, both physical and mental. The factors which influence the general health of the worker can be divided into two broad groups, namely:

(i)                 Those which are associated with his working environment and

(ii)               Those which he shares with the rest of the community.

As regard the second, it seems reasonable to hold that the workers should have the facilities for health protection that the state provides for the general population. But as regards the factors in the working environment which tend to produce ill health, the worker has the right to demand special measures for his protection

Every employer should protect his employees against health hazards:

  1. By substituting a less toxic substance for the hazardous one.
  1. By providing protective clothing, storing, handling and warning services.
  2. By providing adequate safety education and warning.
  3. By devoting adequate attention to working conditions such as proper lighting, temperature, ventilation, noise, etc.

Heinrich in his book Industrial Accidents Prevention postulates that before a given set of circumstances can lead to a lost-time accident, there would be 29 accidents involving minor injuries and 300 near-accidents involving no injury caused by the same set of circumstances. However, this theory does not go so far as to accurately predict when the lost-time injury would occur. Lukens Steels of the United States have conducted systematic research to evolve a method that would predict accurately when the lost-time injury would occur. Their study concludes that every accident is preceded by a series of minor injuries and incidents which can be said to occur in the following six steps:

  1. At stage one; the situation has an accident potential only. There may be something unsafe in the working environment or wrong attitude to safety in a certain department. Unsafe acts may occur due to inefficient supervision.
  2. At sage two; the accident potential is realized and dangerous incidents do in fact occur. But as it is near miss, there is no injury and no damage to plant or equipment.
  3. At stage three; the near-miss becomes a hit and plant and equipment are damaged. But people are not involved. Therefore, no injury is recorded.
  4. At stage four; people are involved. The accident causes minor injuries to people as well as possible damage to plant and equipment.
  5. At stage five; the injuries caused by an accident are serious enough to keep the worker away for more than three days.
  6. At stage six, the injuries received prove fatal.

Lukens steels experts have, therefore, established that adequate number of sign and indications would be available to those who can keep their eyes and mind watchful and a documentation of these indicators would help exercise a better control over the situations and factors leading to damage. This is damage control. One should note that it is not the same as conventional accident control. It concentrates attention on injury potential at the pre-injury stage