HEALTH AND SAFETY IN AN ORGANISATION
The maintenance of good health and safety working conditions is often delegated to the human resources manager (or the factory manager in some organisations).
REASONS FOR HEALTH AND SAFETY
The main reasons for employers‟ interest and attention to health and safety issues in their organisations are as follows:
- To eliminate the spread of contagious disease.
- To enforce government legislation on health and safety.
- To motivate employees to work hard.
- To improve the health of employees.
- To minimize the cost of accidents and medical bills.
- To satisfy trade unions concerns over health and safety issues as a result of increasing rates of accidents.
- To satisfy the organisation‟s social responsibility towards employees and society.
CAUSES OF ACCIDENT AND SAFETY HAZARDS IN AN ORGANISATION
An accident is defined as “an unplanned and uncontrolled event which has led to or could have led to injury to persons, damage to plant or other loss” (United Kingdom definition). Accidents/safety hazards in most organisations are caused by a variety of factors:
- Poorly designed premises: a poorly designed factory/premises with poorly designed stair cases; wrong sitting of utility service points; narrow access ways/corridors, short head-rooms and wrong plan layout could easily cause/lead to accident/safety hazards
- Poor environment: where employees work in poorly ventilated and dusty/smoky environment, accidents might occur. Sometimes poor personal hygiene on the part of employees‟ and unsanitary conditions around the premises could aggravate the problem.
- Lack of maintenance: in a factory without a good preventive maintenance programme, machines and facilities develop faults and break down frequently and could pose danger to employees.
- Faulty work process: where work methods/procedures and technology being used is inherently unsafe, there could be accidents.
- Poor Supervision: supervisors are expected to train subordinates on basic safety procedures and enforce his adherence. Where they neglect this important duty, there could be accidents. Furthermore, where the organisation has no recognized section/officer responsible for enforcing safety in the organisation, a fertile ground for accidents is created.
- Lack of protective equipment/clothing/devices: where the organisation lacks protective equipment/clothing/ devices or neglects to enforce their use, accidents can occur.
- Horseplay and unsafe behaviour: running around, playing of music, playing with dangerous jokes, sleeping and daydreaming at the work place should be checked to prevent accidents.
- Lack of training: poorly trained employees are often prone to accidents.
- Poor labour relations: In an organisation with highly motivated staff; good worker/management relations; democracy and fair play employees obey and enforce safety rules. Where these features are lacking employees could be prone to accidents.
MANAGEMENT OF HEALTH AND SAFETY
To prevent or minimise accidents and safety hazards in an organisation the following measures are suggested: –
- Well designed premises with a good plant layout.
- Provision of safe working environment.
- Installation of preventive maintenance policy.
- Improved training in general and safety procedures in particular.
- Improvement in and adoption of safe work processes.
- Improved supervision over staff especially in relation to safety issues.
- Provision of safety equipment and devices. h) Adoption of a sound safety programme.
- Enactment and enforcement of safety health and safety laws by the government. In Nigeria, safety laws are contained in the Factory Act of 2004. In Nigeria, similar legislation exists in the Labour Laws of Nigeria.
FEATURES OF A SOUND SAFETY PROGRAMME
- Facilities for dealing with safety: the organisation should provide facilities for dealing with accidents such as first aid services, clinic, health personnel and the like.
- Safety training for employees: the organisation must have a training programme for the employees. To complement the training programme the unit in charge of safety must ensure wide dissemination of safety literature (such as brochures, safety booklets, safety videos/film and safety officers).
- Involve employees in the running of the safety programme e.g. through the formation of safety committees (made up of representatives of management and employees). These committees could be given authority to implement safety procedures throughout the organisation.
- By ensuring that the general environment of the organisation is safe e.g. promoting personal hygiene, proper layout of facilities, good ventilation and lighting.
- Maintenance of safety records: detailed statistics must be kept on all accidents and breaches of safety procedures. The cause of all accidents must be investigated and documented and all efforts must be made to prevent reoccurrences.
- Job safety analysis: The organisation must institute a job safety analysis system under which detailed analysis of various jobs are undertaken to ensure that the work methods are inherently safe and all unsafe practices are eliminated.
- Institution of safety awards: to motivate employees to be safety conscious, management could institute a safety award system under which individual workers or their departments maintaining good safety/accident records are rewarded.
- Ensure the institution of the right engineering standards: In the layout of the factory; installation of machines and equipment and design of new products and work process. Management must ensure that inherent work hazards are eliminated.
- Appointment of safety officers: a competent industrial safety officer responsible to the Human Resource Manager must be appointed to coordinate all safety matters in the organisation.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF A SAFETY MANAGER
- Responsibilities assigned to such a safety officer includes:
- Advising on and drafting of safety policies and procedures.
- Keeping detailed records on accidents and breaches of safety.
- Educating employees on safety procedures.
- Making routine safety inspection on machines, and buildings and other facilities owned by the organisation.
- Advising line managers on engineering designs and modifications of equipment which will improve safety. Investigating safety.
- Auditing periodically the safety programme of the organisation and
- Suggesting improvements where necessary.
- Monitoring of activities likely to cause accidents or breach safety procedures.
- Investigate complaints made by employees on safety and hazards
BENEFITS OF SOUND SAFETY PROGRAMMES/POLICIES
- Cost incurred on accidents reduces.
- It protects the employer against claims for workmen‟s compensation arising from injuries received in the course of employment.
- It helps to minimise dislocations in production arising from the absence of the key workers who suffer accidents.
- A healthy accident free atmosphere encourages employees to work hard.
- It improves the general health of employees and maximizes their general contribution to the organization