Describe health and safety in the work place. Why it is necessary to conduct health and safety audit?
Health and safety in work place is an important factor for both the management and the employees. Health and safety issues can bring harm and pain to the employee and their families on the other hand with frequent absentees the work force efficiency decreases creating loss for the company. Thus to create a win-win situation, health and safety at work place must be given high importance. According to Armstrong (2012), “Health and safety policies and programmes are concerned with protecting employees – and other people affected by what the company produces and does – against the hazards arising from their employment or their links with the company. (Armstrong, 2012, p. 440)”
In the context of Nepal, the health and safety check is done by the Ministry of Labour. There are inspectors who do routine health and safety checks in the factories.
According to the Labour Rules, 2015 (1993), Nepal, one of the authority given to Factory Inspector has been mentioned as “To enter into any Enterprise or Factory within the jurisdiction of the Labour office and inspect and examine the building, land, plant, machine, use of raw materials, finished and semi-finished goods and arrangements relating to health and safety and to issue order to Proprietor, in case it is required to correct in that respect. (Nepal, 1993, p. 23)”
But due to lack of governmental strictness and a lot of organization running without proper registration many go without proper checks. “There is no systematic labour inspection system. Consequently, the safety and health provisions at the workplace are enforced by the Factory Inspectors but their number is very low (only 11) in comparison to the number of establishments in the country. As a result the number and manner of inspection at establishments has been extremely inadequate. (Gautam & Prasain, 2011, p. 26)”
Thus we can conclude that health and safety in workplace is vital not only to limit pain, suffering and loss to both employee and employee alike but it is dictated by the law and internationally accepted.
Conducting health and safety audits is necessary because without it there are higher chances of accidents and even fatality. People living with disability their whole lives from accidents in workplace brings not only difficulty to the family but the organization having to pay a huge amount of money.
“The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that more than 2.78 million people lose their lives as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases and approximately 374 million accidents occur on the job annually around the world. In Ne-pal alone, approximately 20,000 workers suffer from accidents at the workplace and 200 people lose their lives each year. (Howard & Basnyat, 2017)”
It is relatively easy to deduce from the figures as presented above the dire need for proper safety and health audits in Nepal. The audit is important as it contributes the following.
Prevention of Accidents: Health and safety standards are created to reduce the risk of casualty and fatality due to accidents in a workplace setting. It is important to conduct health and safety audits to understand that the standards are maintained since maintaining standards help in preventing accidents not only to the employee but even to the environment and other people living in the vicinity along with the consumers of the product. For example a fireman will not go into a burning building without his safety gear and so this gear is very important to the safety of his life. Thus safety and health audits will check to see if the gear that they are using is functioning or not.
Safeguards Organization: “The existence of a robust health and safety auditing programme should also provide a degree of mitigation in the event of a corporate manslaughter case, providing the organisation has acted on the findings and recommendations in a timely manner. Toll, H. (2009)” In case of fatal accidents a completed health and safety audit can help in defending the organization against lawful actions.
Improve standards: The audit will help point out gaps in the legal standards and will paint a clear picture of what needs to be improved. It will also show if mandatory legal compliances are being followed or not. “The process can either establish a baseline on which to build, or provide a measure of improvement since the last audit, or a benchmark with other sites or external organisations. Toll, H. (2009)” The improvement of standards will help identify weaknesses and improve prevent measures reducing the risk of incidents in future.
Health and safety audits are vital to ascertain if the standards are maintained and functioning well to prevent accidents. It also motivates organization to continuously work with safety issues in mind even with their busy work preventing unnecessary risks and saving lives.
Armstrong, M. (2012). ARMSTRONG’S HANDBOOK OF HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PRACTICE (12 Ed ed.). Kogan Page.
Gautam, R. P., & Prasain, J. (2011). Current Situation of Occupational Safety and Health in Nepal. Kathmandu: General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT).
Howard, R., & Basnyat, A. (2017, December 3). Working safe. myRepublica , p. 1 para.
Nepal, G. o. (1993, November 8). Labour Rules, 2050 (1993). Ministry of Labour, Employment & Social Security . Nepal, 3, Nepal: Law Comission. Retrieved from http://dol.gov.np/site/cms/12
Toll, H. (2009). Positional sense. The Safety & Health Practitioner, 27(1), 38-40,4. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/200988871?accountid=158986
Workplace health and safety is introduced to protect employees and other people who might be affected by what the company does or produces. An example of this can be employees suffering from burns in a tire manufacturing company due to extreme heat if the company doesn’t employ proper guidelines and standards for the safety of the employees (Armstrong, 2012). It can also have long term impact in the health of the individual which the company will be responsible for. Thus, this policy helps protect the employees while also ensuring that the company doesn’t have to lose out money for the same with proper precautions at place beforehand (Safety at work, 1995). Another example of it can be a pharmaceutical company producing drugs. Considering that they brought a new product/medicine in the market; people took it and the effect of which isn’t as it should be. In this case the company will be liable for the damage and have to pay huge cost while also keeping the health of people at risk. To minimize issues like those, health and safety in the workplace was introduced. It thus deals with preventing accidents and to minimize the damage to people and property while also ensuring the loss is kept lowest. It also deals with the prevention of health issues resulting from the working environment.
In an organization, be it small or large, the business formulates a new plan once in a while depending on the business climate. Like a business plan, it’s equally important to carry out health and safety audits on a regular basis. The necessity of conducting health and safety audits are as stated below:
- It helps to identify problems. The sooner they’re discovered, the damage can be kept to minimum. For example, an employee is suffering from Level 1 cancer due to the work environment itself. So, in that case, the company can initiate the treatment process straight away. Had there been no audits, the problem may have never been known until very later on causing both financial and reputational loss.
- Helps identify areas of improvement to fulfill legal duties while also promoting the wellbeing of the employees.
- To ensure that the safety equipment are in working conditions and effective
- To identify potential hazards and place safety measures for any hazards discovered
- To ensure that all the health and safety programs activities are properly documented for further references
- To evaluate the competence of both supervisors and employee’s safety training and performance
Safety at work. (1995). Safety Science , 21(1), pp.79-80.
Armstrong, M. (2012). Armstrong’s Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice (12 Ed ed.). Kogan Page.
Health and safety in workplace is concerned with protecting employees and other people affected by what the company produces and does - against the hazards arising from their employment or their links with the company. Ensuring health and safety in the organization is the responsibility of everyone, however it is considered as the moral and legal obligation of the employers in most cases. It is important to pay attention to health and safety issues because if not properly addressed, the ill-health and injuries caused by the system of work or work conditions may cause suffering and loss to individuals and their dependents along with the loss and damage for organization (Armstrong, 2012). For example, an employee may just trip and fall because of wires the carelessly scattered over the workplace. Though this seems a small incident, it sometimes can lead to larger economic loss for the employee and the organization. The employee may seem careless in this particular situation but the organization is also equally accountable.
Workplace health and safety procedures are necessary for the well-being of both employers and employees (Chron, n.d.). The health and safety program at workplace is a process for managing the prevention of work-related injuries and diseases in the workplace. The scope of such programs depends on the size of business and hazards of workplace. The office location, layout, lighting, noise everything should be given due consideration for maintaining workplace health and safety. In order to create plan for promoting workplace health and safety, we need to inspect workplace, train employees, talk regularly with employees, investigate incidents, maintain records and make safety a key part of business (Small Business BC, 2011).
Health and safety audit provides comprehensive review of all aspects of health and safety policies, procedures and practices. It is concerned with the protection of the organization’s employees from hazards at work (Armstrong, 2012). It can be defined as methodical, independent and documented assessment of a business’s systems and processes, in which it is measured against regulated criteria to make sure health and safety standards are met (Workplace Depot, 2013). The health and safety audit follows the model of planning, checking, acting and doing to assure that safety and environmental management systems are fit for the organizational purpose and are implemented effectively. The audit aims on continuous improvement of company’s working conditions. It identifies whether the safety systems are operating effectively or they need to be more efficient. It is necessary to conduct health and safety audit because of the following reasons:
- Prevent the possible accidents by ensuring that the organization maintain the standard for health and safety.
- Reduce the risk of personal traumas or injury by addressing health and safety need of the individuals.
- Prevent material loss and save money from a business by preparing from emergency situations.
- Identify the need of safety training and education by accessing the current situation of the organization.
- Promote employees’ morale by ensuring that the organization they work for is following the basic health and safety standards.
- Improve standard by finding the areas the company needs to improve on.
- Ensure customer confidence by showcasing that health and safety is incorporated in the organizational procedure.
- Identify health and safety problems within the organization and look for possible solutions.
- Follow the rules and regulations set by law.
Armstrong, M. (2012). Armstrong’s Handbook of Human Resource Management. London: Kogan Page.
Chron. (n.d.). Chron . Retrieved from Importance of Workplace Health and Safety: smallbusiness.chron.com/importance-workplace-health-safety-4973.html
Small Business BC. (2011, 11 22). Small Business BC . Retrieved from 7 Steps to Improving Workplace Health and Safety: https://smallbusinessbc.ca/article/seven-steps-improving-health-and-safety
Workplace Depot. (2013, October 8). Workplace Depot . Retrieved from Importance of Health and Safety Audit: https://www.theworkplacedepot.co.uk/news/2013/10/08/importance-health-safety-audit