Why Software Employees Face Significant Occupational Hazards and Addressing Them
Why Occupational Hazards are Not Limited to Manufacturing Firm Employees Alone
Historically, manufacturing firms and those firms engaged in construction and jobs involving operation of heavy machinery and the like were thought to have significant Occupational Hazards or the dangers to employees on the job.
Occupational Hazards, as the name implies, are the risks to Life and Limbs that workers have to bear since they work near Blast Furnaces, or Operate Cranes and handle construction material and the like.
As the chances of accidents are high since these are high risk jobs, the firms as well as the Labour Laws categorized such risks according to their severity and mandated compensation for the injured or worse, the families of the deceased workers in case they met with accidents on the job.
Indeed, occupational hazards were considered so important in these firms that there was an entire class of laws and statuettes devoted to how workers ought to be compensated accordingly.
However, the emergence of the Services Sector has somewhat diminished the importance that we attach to occupational hazards in such firms as it is widely believed that employees in these firms working in Plush Offices are somewhat shielded from the occupational hazards.
Sitting is the New Smoking, and Other Desk Job Injuries That Need to be Addressed
However, it is our argument that significant occupational hazards exist in all firms, including software and financial services as well as in other service sector firms.
For instance, it is now widely recognized that Desk Jobs involve repetitive typing and staring at the Computer Screens that can cause RSI or Repetitive Strain Injury that is also known as Carpel Tunnel Syndrome which can affect the muscles and the shoulder joints.
Moreover, excessive exposure to Digital Devices such as Computer Screens and Smartphones can lead to deterioration of the Eyesight as well.
In addition, sitting for extended periods of time can lead to disorders of the back and other debilitations. Indeed, as the saying goes, sitting is the New Smoking, and hence, what this cliche implies is that seemingly luxurious workspaces that have all the modern amenities at the disposal of the employees can carry significant Occupational Hazards.
Therefore, it is high time Services Sector firms too ensured that employees are compensated for such hazards, whether monetarily or non-monetarily.
The key aspect here is that we must not think that Occupational Hazards are only those that lead to death or severe injuries and instead, must take into account the new realities.
How it is High Time Software and Services Sector Firms Recognized Onsite Posting Risks
Having said that, these are not the only Occupational Hazards for employees working in Software and other Services sector firms.
For instance, during the Boom Years of the First Decade of the New Millennium, it was common for many Knowledge Workers to travel abroad on short and long assignments.
These trips came with their own risks such as contracting diseases when in a foreign land or falling ill due to climatic variations and the sudden change in weather conditions in distant countries that are entirely different from those back home.
Moreover, there was always the possibility that due to unfamiliarity with the language and the local customs, Software Professionals would get into trouble with the local citizens or the authorities due to ignorance of the local laws.
Indeed, in our working experience, whenever we were sent abroad, we used to encounter significant Occupational Hazards that were as serious as any such risks that Manufacturing Firms carried as far as Employee Safety is concerned.
This is the reason why we are arguing that it is high time for the government and the other stakeholders to recognize such Occupational Hazards and codify them into laws that can help White Collar Professionals accordingly.
How Onsite Postings Can Be Navigated By Software Professionals to Minimize Risks
So, what are the ways in which Services Sector firms can alleviate the Occupational Hazards?
To start with, they can ensure that employees sent onsite have the requisite Health Insurance that is valid abroad and which can be activated in case of illness or hospitalization.
Indeed, the most common risk that Services Sector employees face when onsite is that they fall ill and are unsure of where and how to get hospitalised and more importantly, whether the medical expenses would be reimbursed.
In addition, there must be orientation programs for those going onsite as well as mentoring and handholding when abroad for some weeks before employees feel confident of operating by themselves.
Apart from this, it is a common practice for firms such as Infosys to insist that employees have IDPs or International Driving Permits as they post them to remote locations where public transport is unavailable.
This carries its own risks and hence, there must be policies to handle Traffic violations and Accidents during commute.
There is also the risk that the employee visas might expire or they are overstaying due to ignorance of the Immigration rules since many foreign countries do not take kindly to such penal violations.
How Addressing Occupational Hazards is a Win-Win Proposition
Last, as has been discussed, any job carries with it some risks and it is only the severity of such risks that differs.
This means that there is a need for Services Sector firms to address such occupational hazards and not resort to obfuscation when confronted with such risks.
Moreover, even for those in desk jobs, assistance must be provided for workplace injuries and workplace mental health issues.
After all, employees are the main assets for software and services firms and hence, it is in their own interest to take care of them and addressing hazards is the first step.
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Authorship/Referencing - About the Author(s)
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