Most employees expect their workplace to offer them a safe environment in which they can work. It is known that some workplaces are safer than others. Workplace safety is a priority in for most workplaces that is why employers care about employee’s safety.
Workplace safety is a kind of management responsibility in places of employment that includes health and safety of workers.
In order to provide workers with safety and health, managers focus on safety that can include such elements as: management leadership and obligation; worker involving accountability; ensuring the work is carried out safely and effectively; different safety plans, programs and policies, processes, procedures, and practices; safety inspections for workplace hazards; safety goals, objectives and program audits; safety tracking and metrics; identification of hazards and control; safety education, training and communications.
Talking about workplace safety, it is necessary to mention health and safety hazards. According to definition of Rajagopal J., “a ‘hazard’ is something that in itself may cause harm or injury.” (Rajagopal, 2009).Workplace hazards include moving parts of machinery, flammable or toxic substances and lifting heavy things. Also hazards can be included in slippery floors, electric energy, working at heights and excessive noise. Hazards are classified as health hazards and safety hazards.
There are several types of health hazards: chemical substances (battery acid and solvents); biological agents (bacteria, viruses, dusts, and moulds); strong physical agents or energy sources (radiation, heat, vibration, noise); work design (musculoskeletal); injuries/illnesses; harassment, violence, working alone and so on.
There are several criteria of safety at workplace: The way and condition of working is healthy and safe; health and safely is responsibility of both sides; importance of safety is the same as of cost control, quality or productivity; all hazards should be identified and controlled; accidents are reported; safety education should be ongoing (Rajagopal, 2009).
Workplace safety is important because it prevents from getting injures and saves life of workers. A safe situation is a situation where the risks of injuries or property damage are low. Safety should impact the risk of death and injury.
Workplace safety is a management’s responsibility. It includes the creating and compliance of safety programs and policies. Insurance is used in order to restitute the loss made to the employee during the work.
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, the maximum number of workplace fatalities was in the year 1994, and the least number was in 2002 (during 1992-2006).
According to the statistics, people who cut timber or work with metals, fly airplanes, who is involved in roof and extractive activities have a big level of fatal risks at their workplace. At the same time, drivers and workers of construction have to endanger their lives as a part of their activity at work. The statistics shows that “according to the information from the year 2000, timber cutters met with 122.1 fatalities per 100,000 employees, which was the highest count, while truck drivers met with 27.6 fatalities per 100,000 employees. The fatalities observed in other professions ranged between these two values” (Oak, 2008).
Research shows that accidents at work cost billions per year for companies. But the quantity of deaths and injuries at workplace is still very high.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, injuries and accidents at workplace cost American businesses more than $156 billion annually.
Even having laws and safety guidelines at workplace, nearly 5.200 employees die from workplace injuries in the private sector of business. The results of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), that is the federal agency that oversees workplace safety, workplace exposure to illness contributed to as many as 50,000 deaths last year; and nearly 4.3 million people suffered non-fatal workplace injuries and illness.
Even if the number of workplace illnesses and injuries is high, the workplace safety has increased in the past three decades. Safety programs that were provided in private-sector industries have helped to save lives of workers.
Workplace accidents and injuries can be prevented. Businesses that have taken the initiative to protect themselves from accidents have half the injury rates than their competitors that have not. Businesses that have implemented effective health and safety programs not just for wanting safer workplaces, but also they want to: lower costs, improve employee relations and even trust, improve productivity, improve protection of business from down time due to injured workers and improve customer relations.
Injuries cause pain and suffering and impacts the family and friends of the injured. Liability issues can also affect the employer if it has been found that not every precaution reasonable was taken to protect the employee. Financially, many sales will have to be made to overcome the costs of an injury. The average claim can cost a business $68,000 (Stone, 2009).
It is important to constantly look at the safety processes to make sure they are the best they can be. Businesses that achieve lower injury rates have a working health and safety program in place. They have made safe operation a business objective and these businesses have also a more profitable bottom-line.
It is very important that all employers provide safe and healthy conditions in which their employees can work effectively without any hazard or risk. Also, employers and employees should remember that observation, learning, and experience are the keys to recognizing potential safety hazards in the workplace!