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Personal safety, your work shield
We all have families, and consequently love spending time with them. Together, we have loads of happy and joyous moments. Nevertheless, life has the other side too, life at the workplace with dangerous machines and hazardous chemicals.
In the world, there are over 3 billion employees, not all returning home safely. As per ILO (International Labour Organization), every 15 seconds, a worker dies from
a work related accident or disease. Every 15 seconds, 151 workers have a work related accident. However, all these can be stopped in one word SAFETY.
A dangerous situation violating a number of the safety regulations at a company.
Is safety one sided? Who is responsible?
The employer and the employee both share an equal responsibility when it comes to workplace safety. It is incumbent upon the employer to create a safe work
environment for the employee. Providing the proper equipment and materials to effectively do the job. At the same time, it is for the employee to maintain a safe workplace for themselves and their colleagues, and to use the tools and equipment provided as they are designed.
When the two parties uphold their responsibilities, the employer benefits from a satisfied, engaged, productive and loyal workforce. In addition, the company benefits from a positive image within the community, thus becoming a sought-after employer, attracting the best talents since everyone would love to work under
For the employee, the benefit of playing their part in keeping the workplace safe is a positive work environment. This will allow them to pursue their career free of injury, suffering and financial loss.
The consequences of not understanding why safety is important.
Ultimately, a safe workplace protects its employees from injury and/or, worst-case scenario, loss of life. No one wants to be the victim of a workplace accident. While a person is absent from work due to injury and is unfortunate enough not to have adequate medical coverage, they could experience a financial setback.
Even where government organizations provide medical insurance, the final impact on a person and his/her immediate family can be considerable. At times, the medication and treatments needed to assist with recovery are not covered by medical insurance – or worse, the employee does not have insurance – adding to the financial loss created due to the injury.
Medical insurance may not necessarily solve the puzzle, as certain injuries may require a long time recovery. This can put strain on a relationship, with one partner taking on the role of caregiver. If the partner also works, the added responsibility of being the caregiver on top of a full-time job can create additional stress on the relationship. In addition, it would be likely that psychological depression may set in as a result.
For major injuries, or if the symptoms from the injury linger for a longer period, the employee may be prevented from returning to work in the same position/job station as before. Physical and psychological barriers can also dictate a position change. If the employers are not able to reassign the employee within the organization, they may need to change careers completely. All this contributes to additional financial loss, as well as emotional and relationship stress.
Loss of Reputation; A good reputation is a crucial part of a business’s success. It can bring you a greater volume of investors and clients, an improved community opinion of your business, and a larger number of individuals who will be eager to join your team. However, a poor health and safety culture will cost your reputation.
On the afternoon of 4 August 2020, two explosions occurred at the port of the city of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The second explosion was extremely powerful, and caused at least 171 deaths, 6,000 injuries, US$10–15 billion in property damage, and left an estimated 300,000 people homeless.
Legal Repercussions; As an employer, it is your legal responsibility to make your workplace a safe environment for your employees. If you neglect your legal responsibility, you may face high legal costs, hefty fines, and the possibility of a jail sentence. Uganda, just like any other country has set laws that have and must be followed by all organisations/institutions concerning safety at workplaces.
While the employees have the most to gain from workplace safety. There are definite advantages for the employer to be conscious of the work environment and
understand why safety is important. The most valuable asset an employer has is their employees. Any good employer recognizes the need to protect the assets of the company. By doing so, the employer is also protecting the company from financial loss.
Sometimes a workplace accident will also involve damage to property or company equipment. Productivity loss due to the absence of the employee as well as the replacement cost of the equipment or the repair cost of the property can be expensive.
With the loss of an employee due to a workplace accident, additional strain is put on the remaining workforce. It is unlikely that the employer will hire someone to temporarily replace the injured employee therefore work schedules and job duties will be revised to accommodate the loss in anticipation of the injured employee’s return. This added workload can contribute to a drop in quantity and quality of
work. Besides an increase in absenteeism and a decrease in morale will tend to surface. The increased workload unto itself can contribute to additional workplace
injuries as the existing workforce is asked to do more in the same allocated time.
One of the costliest aspects to the employer is when an employee cannot return to work due to an injury, and the employee must be replaced. The cost of recruiting
and training is significant. Even if you can find a suitable candidate to hire, there is no guarantee the candidate will work out. The interview process only reveals the tip of the iceberg. What the new employee brings to the position is only seen once they are on the job and their performance can be evaluated. If the employee does not pass their probation and is released, then the costly process of recruiting and training begins again.
Even small emergencies with little impact can have many magnified associated risks, which can be mitigated by simply putting in place safety systems and processes.
The Company should provide a workable guide for all within the business to minimize the impact of emergencies. Without an emergency plan, it is possible that any emergency response will accelerate into an out of control situation until the emergency services arrive. Thus, placing all at great risk of harm.
Safety starts with both the employer and the employee who have responsibilities to provide safe systems of work. The benefits can be substantial and could lessen the
impact and risk of harm. To further enhance safety, it is important to not only put in place preventative measures but organizations need to prepare for response and
recovery from emergencies.
The most basic priority of all organizations is to generate enough revenue to keep the doors open and the lights on. Safety is extremely important and it must be the
way, not the priority or value.
It is ideal for an executive to believe that having no accidents is the first priority. In fact, to state otherwise is obscene, unethical, and irrational. However, the understanding of what safety "is" has changed. Safe means not being at risk, not the absence of accidents. Achieving a zero injury or incident outcome is possible,
but removing all risks from an industrial setting is not.
Greg Boyce, former Chairman and CEO, Peabody Energy said that “It is therefore prudent that effective leaders determine the importance of safety and health management in their organizations. They help define and drive the culture by ensuring adequate resources are devoted to safety and health; they set the example
through personal behavior; they communicate a strong personal safety and health vision for the company; and they hold others accountable for their safety and health responsibilities”.
Understanding why safety is important in the workplace could be the difference between life and death.
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