Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Wellness) Regulation 1992, employers have a legal duty to ensure, the health, safety and welfare of all employees, and anyone who uses their premises. The law establishes regulations to eliminate personal injuries and illnesses from occurring in the workplace.
It is important for employers to take the necessary steps to protect employees from the health and safety concerns that may arise at work. As an organization, providing workers with a safe and healthy workplace is critical to the wellbeing of the employees and the success of the business.
Companies have introduced safety programs, safety plans and employee safety training as an important part of their Health and safety policy to prevent injury and illness at the workplace. These programs help employers and employees understand the potential hazards they are exposed to on a daily basis; and ways to avoid them. Proper guidelines and programs educate workers on the benefits of practicing safe workplace behavior.
World Health and Safety Act, 2011 requires employers with ten or more employees to establish and maintain a written health and safety program. The program covers employee safety facilities from ensuring availability of first-aid to being familiar with their rights and duties. As per regulation, every organization should have a first aid box and a person appointed to take charge of first aid arrangements. Physical injury can be prevented if precautionary measures are taken. Certain industries are required to provide PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), which is any clothing or equipment used for protection at work, as in the case of mining, construction, project sites, R&D, clinical research etc. This may include goggles, gloves, reflective vests, hard hats, earplugs, respirators, face masks, safety harnesses, safety shoes, etc.
Providing workplace facilities like safe, well-lit entry and exit points which are slip-resistant, clearly marked with signages, properly guarded aisles, walkways and staircases can avoid mishaps. Spacious work areas, sufficient lighting and ventilation, signboards for prevention of injuries from transparent doors, walls, windows, lighting and electrocution are implemented at most workplaces. Additionally, companies should also ensure safety of staff working in night shifts. All companies that have employees working at nights are required to provide transport facilities. Emergency situations may arise due to a fire, explosion, chemical spill, medical emergency, natural disaster, bomb threat or violence. Companies are mandated to have an emergency plan that responds effectively to health and safety incidents and other emergencies that might occur.
Women suffer sexual harassment or violence more often than men at workplace. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in 2015, 19% of women’s workplace fatalities were homicides as opposed to 8% for men. Countries have come up with their own policies to deal with this grave issue. The Factories Act, 1948 India permits women workers to work only between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. in a factory. The Canadian Women's Foundation is committed to meeting all legal requirements, duties, and standards set by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its applicable regulations related to workplace violence and harassment. The policy applies to all workplace activities that occur both at and away from the workplace.
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has special regulation to protect pregnant women on the job. It states that an employer cannot fire a woman because she's pregnant, or force her to take time off or change jobs, as long as she’s still able to do her job.
Additionally, companies are required by law to have a grievance cell or a complaints committee that acts as a complaint redressal mechanism and a committee on sexual harassment to look into cases of sexual harassment. Organizations are also investing in educative sessions to familiarize employees with their duties, rights and responsibilities. People tend to perform better and stay happier at their work if they know they are working in a safe and healthy environment.
Safety is not the absence of incidents, but work performed in a way that keeps accidents at bay.