Occupational healthcare relates to the health, safety and welfare issues in a work environment. It is composed of laws, standards and programs with the ultimate purpose of improving working conditions for employers, employees, stakeholders and customers. An improvement in occupational healthcare and safety results in higher employee morale and better business and brand image. The goal of occupational health and safety standards is to address common hazards and areas of concern in the workplace such as chemical, physical and biological hazards, ergonomic issues and psychological effects. In doing so, develop a positive work culture, social climate and an overall enhancement in the productivity of the organization. Companies are responsible for providing a safe working environment which highlight and embrace important issues such as salary, working hours and the promotion of good health and protection. The list of healthcare hazards that employees face is a long one and varies from between industries. Hazards can be as simple as slippery floors, poor fire protection or even unattended machinery. Mentioned below are a few of hazards which are likely to be experienced by employees but not limited to:
- Psychological hazards: Incidents or workload which lead to strain or stress
- Physical hazards: Noise, radiation, poor lighting and extreme temperatures
- Chemical hazards: Fumes, gases, liquids, dust and vapours
- Biological hazards: Infestations, bacteria, viruses and biological/ infectious waste
- Ergonomic related hazards: poor design of work stations, machinery, mechanical tools and work practices.
More often than not, individuals will not experience isolated hazards, but rather a combination of hazards. Therefore rendering it mandatory to address such issues and take preventative precautions.
In the past it was not uncommon for workers and employees to be treated poorly. Many were forced to work in dangerous conditions with minimum consideration for their health or wellbeing. Accidents and health hazards were frequent, which came with economic stress been placed on the family of the employee. Today, hazardous conditions, materials and workplace practices must be identified in order for employers and management to assist in significantly reducing or eradicating the risks. Individuals from various faculties are involved in ensuring a positive and safe workplace. Industrial hygienists offer specialized expertise and are tasked with identifying and implementing controls over hazards linked with acute and chronic exposure to biological, physical and chemical agents. Occupational medical physicians and healthcare nurses are responsible for providing clinical health programs aimed at educating and promoting disease prevention and health safety amongst workers. The programs in place should include prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment of work related injuries and disease, impairment assessments, drug testing, case management and counselling for behavioural and emotional issues which will affect job performance if left untreated. These simple improvements have been proven to be affective in increasing the competitiveness and motivating the workforce.
Integrating occupational healthcare and safety in the workplace
The systems, standards and laws in place help management and supervising staff to better understand and implement the respective procedures to ensure a safe and healthy environment. The procedures in place will contribute to achieving business goals.
- An expert occupational healthcare worker must first assess and analyse the workplace, providing suggestions and pointing out potentially hazardous situations which need to be attended to. Employees can also contribute to identifying risks as they are exposed to it on a regular basis.
- One must ensure that all members of staff are trained and knowledgeable in the standard operating procedure (SOP) of every policy in place. A copy of the SOP’s should be visible and readily available if necessary. It is advisable to assign leaders, as these individuals will guide their fellow co-workers. Attending of training is mandatory as it is beneficial to all employees.
- It is advisable to audit your systems once you have them in place. Allow for a third party to review it as they will be able to provide better external perspective as to whether policies are been followed and systems are working as they should.
Occupational healthcare essentially protects employees and in doing so protects the respective company. It is the duty of companies and large organizations to provide a physically and mentally healthy environment for its workers, reducing accidents and illness. Get started in protecting your employees and company today by contacting us at Unique Health and requesting our occupational health services.