How Present Companies can Maintain Employee’s Health and Safety ?
Occupational health and safety is one of the most important components of human resource management in all companies, particularly under the corporate social responsibility, or morale and ethical responsibility of business enterprises to involved stakeholders. Occupational health and safety is also an important aspect of a company’s reputation and economic stability, since this can be very costly for both in the event of accidents, deaths, resulting legal battles, and similarly ugly occurrences (Reese, 2015).
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the present strategies and programs of companies in prioritizing, maintaining and/or improving workers’ health and safety. In this age wherein workers are more prone to stress-related health problems, what are the companies counteracting strategies? How do HR departments implement company policies for risks and hazard control, as well as disease and accident prevention purposes? These questions shall be answered and further discussed in the proceeding pages.
Physical and Mental Health and Safety Programs: The Health and Safety Executive stated that as many as 28.2 million working days were lost within 2013 to 2014 due to “work-related illness and injury”, resulting to a profit reduction of over £14 billion (Selby, 2015). Statistics and studies all point to the fact that employers cannot disregard the role of corporate wellness in overall company performance and economic prowess. Similar scenarios pushed them to allot management efforts and financial costs to improving the overall health of their workers. For instance, the implementation of ergonomic solutions for employees whose functions at work generally involves physical strains due to prolonged sitting, lifting, or bending. Initially, there are misconceptions to such solutions as highly expensive, and complex. However, ergonomic injuries (musculoskeletal disorders) account for approximately 70 million visits to doctors each year. These results indicate more productivity lost. Rachel Michael of Aon Risk Solutions stated that “ergonomics shouldn’t be an employer’s response to employee injuries, but something that’s part of designing workplaces, work tools and work systems” (Goldberg, 2015).
Another issue is the role of stress in worker’s health, well-being and job performance. One such study conducted by Sarah Smith, PhD, which employed nurses as test subjects, found a strong connection to improvement in functionality and job performance with less stress produced by Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). According to the said study, improved moods and empathy, which are essential attitudes in patient care, are found among subjects who participated in MBSR. Smith further stated that “as further studies are conducted to validate the benefits of MBSR for practicing nurses and to investigate the impact on patient care, justification may be found for policy changes in the workplace leading to MBSR being routinely offered to nurses (2014). Psychological health is as important as physical health when creating and implementing programs related to occupational health and safety.
Trainings, and Habit and Personality-Related Interventions: Personality and attitude are essential components of a typical working group, and the environment where such group thrives. That’s why the success and efficiency of occupational health and safety policies do not rely solely to the company’s management, but to the individual employees as well. Taking into consideration the issue of smoking habits of some, which is not just dangerous and lethal to the smoker, but to the people who surround him/her as well. Second-hand smoke is far more dangerous than first-hand smoke. Moreover, cigarette butts and lighter sparks can cause accidents like fire or explosion, particularly if appropriate smoking rules are not followed. Integrating workplace-based efforts, such as regular individual counselling, communication interventions, and buddy-guide systems can increase participation, and encourage employee smokers to observe strict smoking guidelines and minimize smoking, if quitting is impossible at the moment (“Helping Your Workers Kick the Habit”, 2015).
The importance of Leadership and HR management interventions, with which responsibilities and job designs for both employees and employers are clarified and established, and sensitivity to difference in culture and mutual respect is practiced, can help maximize the overall health in the workplace. Different personalities are at work in a certain workplace. Understanding and respecting this fact can improve leadership among superiors, as well as loyalty and enthusiasm among employees, which ultimately result to a healthy workplace (Pitsilis, 2015).
Advanced Technologies in Occupational Hazard Prevention: With the fast-paced evolution of working environments and background economy, the use of technology becomes indispensable in creating innovations that will make company policies, development programs, and overall market performance successful. For instance, there are scientific models and technologies that are being the subjects of research and studies, with the goal of improving the occupational health and safety of all workers. One example is the use of fuzzy logic (a logic that more or less imitates that of a human being’s, like saying neither cold nor hot, contrary to the common mathematical logic of pure “black” and “white”) in reducing the risks of accidents in working operations. The model, called “Proactivity-and-Consequence Based Safety Incentive” (PCBSI), is mainly a reward system involving two parameters: one is the worker behaviours that’s gauged by the worker’s reporting of hazardous situations, and the other is the consequence, which the worker can avoid based on the reports. This model is currently being tested in a chemical plant (Saracino, et. al., 2015). Another is the human-system interface risk assessment method (HIS), which employs mental models (operator’s understanding) and human reliability analysis (HRA) event tree, where possible abnormal situations and corresponding mitigating or controlling response are assessed. This proposed technology is currently being investigated at a chemical plant (Naderpour, Li and Zhang, 2015).
This paper discusses the common programs, policies and technologies employed by companies today to maintain (and develop) the existing occupational health and safety system in their working environments. Since workers’ health and safety are important elements to consider in a company’s overall performance and reputation, employers allot as much effort and money they can provide to improve in this area. For instance, there are programs in companies which target to maintain or improve both the physical and mental health of all employees, thru provision of stress-reducing and less physically straining tools and activities. In this paper, the importance of ergonomics improvement and stress reduction is emphasized.
Interventions from the HR management team in the form of trainings, consultations and other personality-related guidance programs are also important, because employees are human beings who have unique traits, attitude and culture that must be respected. Mutual respect and a good culture in the working place can result to a healthy working relationship among all company constituents.
Lastly, this paper provided examples of advanced technologies that can make the occupational health and safety systems of all companies effective in its goals of protecting workers. These technologies are currently being improved.