Although work provides individuals, companies, and nations a wide range of ways to reap economic benefits, it also presents numerous hidden risks. While working in front of a computer poses less risk than working in a fast-paced kitchen with mixers, blenders, ovens, and steamers, and working as a chef poses less risk than balancing on the beam of a skyscraper, all work involves some form of risk. An office worker risks carpel tunnel syndrome, a chef risks scalding, and a construction worker risks falling.
Unfortunately, in an effort to increase productivity, a worker may ignore health, and in an attempt to improve profitability, a company might neglect to provide health and safety guidelines or invest in safety equipment.
Let’s take a look at the consequences of neglecting safety and the different types of risk factors that workers face when on the job.
The Consequences of Neglecting Safety
It’s an unfortunate aspect of business life that many companies fail to take health and safety seriously, only complying if mandated by Department of Labor agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Mine Safety and Health Administration, The Fair Labor Standards Act.
This, to say the least, is taking a short-sighted view. Only complying because of government regulations and doing the bare minimum necessitated by labor laws is missing the point, a distressing failure to understand the reason for taking health and safety precautions.
In an effort to reduce costs and increase profits, a company might not issue hard hats, coveralls, and steel-toed boots to its construction workers, or it might not issue safety glasses, or Rx safety glasses to those who require a prescription, to those working in chemical laboratories or areas where there are flying particles. Companies don’t seem to realize the consequences of their neglect.
Besides the suffering that a worker experiences because of an accident, injury, or illness, as well as the worker’s family and colleagues, the company itself is jeopardizing its own future.
Work-related accidents and injuries can result in the following unexpected costs: a loss of time and production., damage to expensive equipment, compensation payments, rising insurance costs, and disreputation.
By saving some money by minimizing compliance, not buying enough safety equipment for all their workers, or taking shortcuts to bypass safety standards, a company is paying a far heavier price for their ignorance or lack of regard for health and safety issues.
Conversely, by initiating policies for safety training, by issuing safety apparel and equipment, and by taking steps to identify risks and reduce or eliminate hazards, every workplace will experience immediate cost savings and the business will benefit everyone concerned, from workers to shareholders.
Different Types of Risk Factors on the Job
Work often involves exposure to numerous risk factors, some mild, others serious, depending on the nature of the work and the working environment. Working at a job might, for example, include exposure to psychosocial risk factors, allergens, physical factors, biological agents, and chemicals. In many cases, these can be either mitigated or removed through the use of protective clothing and equipment, as well as following recommended safety policies that increase alertness about risks to be aware of on the job.
Here are three hazards that can affect people in a workplace:
1. Exposure to physical risks. This can be due to machines or the environment. Machines can crush or burn or cut or stab because they have moving parts, hot surfaces, or sharp edges. An environment may have high noise levels, resulting in an occupational hearing loss, or they may have slippery surfaces, resulting in falls, which are especially common in jobs related to cleaning and maintenance work.2.
2. Exposure to diseases. Biohazards can affect farmers, gardeners, factory workers, or those working in healthcare. Workers may be exposed to viruses, toxins, poisonous plants, or infected animals when they do their jobs.
3. Exposure to stressful environments. Psychosocial hazards can affect the mental and emotional well-being of jobs where there is an insufficient amount of work-life balance, long working hours, or high psychological pressure. Psychosocial hazards can result in illness and neurotic or psychotic disorders.
In conclusion, every business has to be specific when initiating its health and safety policies and procedures. Without a careful study of the hazards involved in any line of work, it’s possible to miss the issues that need to be addressed or to take ineffective preventative measures.