Workers face diverse risks and pressures in relation to the conditions and demands of their work.
The workplace is becoming more stressful, with work-related stress being acknowledged as a global issue, affecting all countries, professions and workers both in developed and developing countries.
As the world celebrates the 2018 World Day for Safety and Health at Work on Saturday, analysts have called on organisations to put in place health and safety management plans, policies and tools in workplaces to safeguard workers’ health.
The World Day for Safety and Health at Work is an annual international campaign against millions of workers losing their lives through accidents and diseases linked to their work.
The theme for 2018 event is: “Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Vulnerability of Young Workers’’.
The annual international campaign is to promote safety, health and decent work in accordance to the International Labour Organization (ILO) demands.
According to an online website, www.awarenessdays.com, every day, 6,300 people die as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases – more than 2.3 million deaths per year.
It states that 317 million accidents occur on the jobs annually, with many of these resulting in extended absences from work.
The ILO campaign focuses on the critical need for countries to improve their capacity to collect and utilise reliable occupational safety and health data.
According to the ILO Convention C187, National Occupational Safety and Health culture is one in which the right to a safe and healthy working environment is respected at all levels.
It is a culture in which governments, employers and workers actively participate in securing a safe and healthy working environment through a system of defined rights, responsibilities and duties, and where the highest priority is accorded to the principle of prevention.
Analysts are of the opinion that daily adversity is vast and economic burden of poor occupational safety and health practices is affecting global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year.
They also note that workplace is an important source of psychosocial and other work-related stress risk factors, urging that the challenges should be addressed in order to protect the health of workers.
According to them, many companies, apart from from oil and gas, and perhaps, construction companies, do not have health and safety management plan, thereby exposing workers to risks that affect their health and social wellbeing.
Dr Victor Nwachukwu, an Environmental Management Consultant, believes that workers are relevant to employers and need to be properly taken care of in order to work more efficiently and effectively.
Nwachukwu, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BioDoc Int’l Ltd. which deals on occupational health and safety systems, is of the opinion that many workers operate under harsh conditions.
“Most of them work without even knowing that there should be some measures of health and safety provided by their organisations.
“There should be a plan that employees should know how to handle themselves, depending on the type of occupation, so that they are not exposed to risks associated with their fields.
“Many organisations lack such a plan which does not necessarily need to be a complex one.
“It depends on the type of company, some can be very simple, depending on the size of the organisation and the type of work, “ he says.
The CEO advises that the plan should communicate to people about the occupational hazards and workplace procedures.
“In terms of structures – for example, the floors – it is better for floors to have some form of frictions so that when people walk, they do not slip and fall.
“If the floors are so smooth and probably you have cleaners that sweep clean, there is a tendency for people to slip.
“If you have a staircase, it must have a rail; there should also be a sign that you should support yourself when you are walking; if not, you can fall from the stairs.
“If these measures are not put in place, workers can fall and hurt themselves; some can even die, yet, some of these cases can lead to litigation,’’ he notes.
Nwachukwu adds that these can result in loss of manpower and resources.
Dr Ololade Kehinde, a Consultant Radiation-Oncologist and Nuclear Physician, urges employers to ensure a work environment that will foster good health of workers.
Kehinde, who works with the Department of Radiation-Oncology, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, is convinced that a healthy workplace is a panacea for a productive workforce.
“To have a healthy workforce, there are certain things that should be put in place.
“Things that are hazardous should not be in the office environment, including unwarranted radiation, poor lighting, slippery floors and overcrowded space.
“Workplace environment should be clean, particularly computer hardware items, because it will ensure limited exposure to radiation which can lead to cancer in the worker,“ he says.
Kehinde urges that an office should be well ventilated to prevent airborne diseases and suffocation.
“It is important for employers to ensure a safe environment that will protect workers from getting exposed to diseases that may reduce quality of life.
“A safe and healthy environment for employees will improve the employee’s work and life balance, and in turn, promote quality health across the nation,’’ he says.
Kehinde also advises workers to adopt healthy work practices.
“For example, a worker should not sit down for a long period; sitting causes the pelvis to rotate backward and puts pressure on the lumbar discs.
Ms Joy Asuquo, Admin Manager, El-Lab Medical Diagnostics and Research Centre, Lagos, emphasises the need for organisations to have a policy to help reduce occupational hazards.
“Companies need to realise the need to put some measures in place that can limit those risks.
“Companies should have fire policies, as well as protective shields for computers.
“These and more will help to create an enabling work environment,’’ Asuquo says. (NANFeatures)