Workplace Health and Safety

Statistics show that every twenty seconds of every working minute throughout the world, someone dies as a result of industrial accident or poor safety conditions at workplace. Thousands of employees throughout the world lose their limbs, suffer from temporary or permanent disability or lose their lives due to insufficient arrangements for their health and safety at workplace. Not only workers but their families also suffer the loss all through their lives.

December 1984 witnesses the world’s worst chemical disaster in Bhopal, India, when a methylisocyanate gas leaked from the Union Carbide plant in the city. It killed over 4,000 people and not hundreds but thousands suffered from permanent health damage. The haunting memories of this disaster are still fresh in our minds.

Not only insufficient arrangements of workers’ health and safety at workplace have taken away their lives but these days stress at workplace is also emerging as a major culprit of spoiling employees and their families’ lives. Every now and then we hear of suicide cases of individuals from the corporate world. Does mental stress not a factor that should be considered with physical health and safety provisions? Have workers’ lives become so cheap that small issues can take away their lives leaving their families wracked, children orphaned and parents shocked with disbelief ?

Does safety at workplace only mean to protect the workers from the danger of accidents or any other mishaps? Should workplace safety not consider mental stress or emotional trauma or personal issues of employees? Is the physical presence of an employee enough for an employer to run the business?

There is no end to these questions. In today’s fast-paced life and cut-throat competition, employers need to rethink about safety provisions at workplace. It not only refers to the absence of accidents. Rather, the concept expands to both physical and mental safety of the employees. It is possible to show the external injury but what about something that is suffocating the employees from inside?

Providing safety to the employees at workplace has a moral dimension as well. Though it is a legal requirement and fetches monetary compensation in case of failure but it can’t bring back an individual’s life. Eliminating the causes of accidents and counseling employees at workplace play a substantial role in saving the operating costs, increasing productivity and ensuring reliability and dependability from the employees.

Employees are the biggest assets of any organization and few well managed and co-coordinated safety programs can minimize the loss and damage to them as well as to the organization. With basic safety policies and remedies for accidents, the companies should also provide systematic training to industrial employees so that they are able to do their jobs efficiently and safely.

Over a few years, even the mental health of employees, particularly at executive level, has grabbed the attention of the employers. Mental breakdowns because of stress, tension and work pressure, depression resulting from failure to meet targets and mental illness taking toll from alcoholism and poor human relations have consumed many brilliant young executives. The need is to provide psychiatric counseling, co-operation and consultation. Development and maintenance of effective human relations can work wonders. Therefore, while making arrangements for physical health and safety at workplace, employers should also take actions to improve mental health of their indispensable resource.


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Human Resource Management