How Can Employee Involvement Contribute to Improving Occupational Health and Safety?
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How Can Employee Involvement Contribute To Improving Occupational Health and Safety?
Date: August, 2005
Table of Contents
4. EMPLOYEE PARTICIPATION IN OHS
This seminar paper discussed how employee involvement can contribute to improvement of occupational health and safety in workplace. The continuous development of technology since the industrial revolution has created hazards in workplaces endangers the health and safety of the work force. Employers and employees need to recognize these changes and work together to promote the health and safety of everyone at work and of other people in or around places of work.
Employee participation in OHS management may be operationally defined in any number of ways. The key requirement is that employees have input into OHS considerations, and that the input is meaningful, valued, and can affect policies and practices. Many OHS professionals have identified employee participation as the variable essential to successful OHS management and illness / injury reduction.
The justifications for employee participation in OHS management can be broadly separated into three major categories:
Potential improvements in psycho-social and organisational development,
Potential productivity and efficiency gains, and
Ethical and legal imperatives.
It is certain that employee participation and involvement in the field of OHS has a positive effect. Maximisation of effectiveness could be achieved through recommendations outlined in this report. Most importantly the success of employee participation initiative rests upon the tangible commitment of both management and employee, barring in mind the range of factors considered to improve the effectiveness of employee participation is relatively narrow, and there is a high degree of consensus regarding the most salient influences which warrant a need for further detailed research and study into the effectiveness of employee participation and consultation in OHS.
Definition and Nature of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)
One of the areas of employment which received increased attention over recent years is occupational health and safety (OHS), which deals with the physiological / physical and psychological conditions of an organisations workforce that results from the work environment provided by the organization. It refers to the promotion and maintenance of physical and psychological well-being of workers and the prevention of any departure of this objective. Thus, it seeks to prevent accidents and diseases by ensuring that workplaces are free from hazardous conditions. Workplace hazards can be divided into:
The accidents and diseases that produce physiological and physical conditions, and
Stress and low quality of working life that result when psychological conditions are not optimal.
Effects of OHS over The Workplace and Employment
In Australia alone, there are about 2900 work-related deaths and 650,000 work-related injuries each year, resulting in an annual economic loss of more than $27 billion. Malaysia in 1989 reported 112,095 industrial accidents to 125,304 the year after. In 1991 there was an increase of 15% in this short period to 128,871. In China where government regulations are ignored, the death rate from accidents in the coalmining industry is 500-1000 times more; according to the International Labour Organisation data, it is reported that almost 400,000 Chinese workers died of occupational illnesses in 2002.
An organization which successfully reduces its rates and severity of occupational accidents, diseases and work-related stress levels and improve the quality of work life becomes more effective, and sees beneficial results, such as :
more productivity due to fewer lost workdays
increased efficiency from a more committed work force
reduced medical and insurance costs
lower workers compensation rates and direct payments because fewer claims are filed
greater flexibility and adaptability in the work force as a result of increased participation and an increased sense of ownership, and