“Occupational health safety and welfare on productivity – Hazards in work place”
“People don’t care what you know until they know you care” – Corrie Pitzer
In the previous article we have given introduction about the occupational health safety and
welfare on productivity, in this article we are going to view and give idea on the hazards in
the work place. By every forthcoming article one topic related to the occupational health
safety and welfare on productivity is going to reveal. Centre for Research and Excellence CRE is a not – for – profit organization dedicated to research in areas of social and
environment to achieve excellence. Our mission is to initiate, promote, facilitate and
implement projects that have positive impact on environment and society. CRE was started in
the year 2010. Over the two years, the organization has carried out social and environmental
An industrial hazard is a major issue in present scenario. Some industrial plants, by the nature
of their activities and the substances they use, constitute hazards which are all the greater
when they are located close to residential areas for these and their residents are particularly
exposed in the events for accidents.
Types of hazards:
1) Physical 2) Chemical 3) Biological 4) Psychological 5) Ergonomical hazard.
Physical hazards are the most common and will be present in most workplaces at one time or
another. They include unsafe conditions that can cause injury, illness and death. They are
typically easiest to spot but, sadly, too often overlooked because of familiarity (there are
always cords running across the aisles), lack of knowledge (they aren't seen as hazards),
resistance to spending time or money to make necessary improvements or simply delays in
making changes to remove the hazards (waiting until tomorrow or a time when "we're not so
busy").None of these are acceptable reasons for workers to be exposed to physical hazards.
Examples of physical hazards include:
Electrical hazards: frayed cords, missing ground pins, improper wiring
Unguarded machinery and moving machinery parts: guards removed or moving parts
that a worker can accidentally touch
High exposure to sunlight/ultraviolet rays, heat or cold
Working from heights, including ladders, scaffolds, roofs, or any raised work area
Working with mobile equipment such as forklifts (operation of forklifts and similar
mobile equipment in the workplace requires significant additional training and
Spills on floors or tripping hazards, such as blocked aisle or cords running across the
Heat and Cold- The direct effects of heat exposure are burns, heat exhaustion, heat
stroke and heat cramps; the indirect effects are decreased efficiency, increased fatigue
and enhanced accident rates.
Light- The workers may be exposed to the risk of poor illumination or excessive
Noise- The degree of injury from exposure to noise depends upon a number of factors
such as intensity and frequency range, duration of exposure and individual
Vibration- Vibration usually affects the hands and arms
Chemical hazards are present when a worker is exposed to any chemical preparation in the
workplace in any form (solid, liquid or gas). Some are safer than others, but to some workers
who are more sensitive to chemicals, even common solutions can cause illness, skin irritation
or breathing problems.
Liquids like cleaning products, paints, acids, solvents especially chemicals in an
unlabelled container (warning sign!)
Vapours and fumes, for instance those that come from welding or exposure to
Gases like acetylene, propane, carbon monoxide and helium
Flammable materials like gasoline, solvents and explosive chemicals.
There is hardly any industry which does not make use of chemicals.
The chemical hazards are on the increase with the introduction of newer and complex
Chemical agents act in three ways: local action, inhalation and ingestion. The illeffects produced depend upon the duration of exposure, the quantum of exposure and
Biological hazards come from working with animals, people or infectious plant materials.
Work in day care, hospitals, hotel laundry and room cleaning, laboratories, veterinary offices
and nursing homes may expose you to biological hazards.
The types of things you may be exposed to include:
Blood or other body fluids
Bacteria and viruses
Animal and bird droppings.
Workers may be exposed to infective and parasitic agents at the place of work. The
occupational diseases in this category are brucellosis, leptospirosis, anthrax, hydatidosis,
psittacosis, tetanus, encephalitis, fungal infections, schistosomiasis and a host of others.
Persons working among animal products (e.g. hair, wool, hides) and agricultural workers are
specially exposed to biological hazards.
The psychosocial hazards arise from the workers’ failure to adapt to an alien psychosocial
environment. Frustration, lack of job satisfaction, insecurity, poor human relationships, and
emotional tension is some of the psychosocial factors which may undermine both physical
and mental health of the workers. The capacity to adapt to different working environments is
influenced by many factors such as education, cultural background, family life, social habits
and what the worker expects from employment.
The health effects can be classified in two main categories –
a) Psychological and behavioral changes – including hostility, aggressiveness, anxiety,
depression, tardiness, alcoholism, drug abuse, sickness absenteeism
b) Psychosomatic ill health – including fatigue, headache; pain in the shoulders, neck and
back; propensity to peptic ulcer, hypertension, heart disease and rapid aging.
Ergonomic hazards occur when the type of work, body position and working conditions put
strain on your body. They are the hardest to spot since you don't always immediately notice
the strain on your body or the harm these hazards pose. Short-term exposure may result in
"sore muscles" the next day or in the days following exposure, but long term exposure can
result in serious long-term injuries.
Ergonomic hazards include:
Improperly adjusted workstations and chairs
Awkward movements, especially if they are repetitive
Repeating the same movements over and over
Having to use too much force, especially if you have to do it frequently.
Steps for managing hazards:
Safe work provides a basic structure for the valuable and appropriate implementation of
health and safety in your business. It’s about employers and workers working together to
provide the safest work environment.
The ‘SAFER’ approach will help protect employees, safeguard a workplace’s investment and
reduce a workplace’s levy rate.
See it — hazard identification
Identify anything that has the potential to harm the health or safety of people at workplace.
Assess it — risk assessment
Consider the likelihood that someone will be hurt, how badly they will be hurt, how they
could be hurt, as well as how much, how long and how often a person is exposed to the
Fix it — risk control
Determine how the hazards are going to be controlled. If elimination of the hazard is not
possible, then other controls should be implemented to reduce potential risks.
Once the most appropriate fix has been selected, it’s important to evaluate whether the fix has
been successful in controlling the hazard or re-assess the risk again.
After a period of time, when the working environment changes, a review of this entire
process is required to continually control of the hazard.
A safe system of work should be provided to ensure the total set of methods is adopted for
carrying out the operations required in a particular workplace. They cover all aspects of the
employment situation including the organisation of work processes, the methods of using
machinery, plant and equipment, the methods of hiring labour, job training, instruction and
supervision about the associated hazards and their management, and what to do when things
Hazards, risks, outcomes:
The terminology used in OSH varies between countries, but generally speaking:
A hazard is something that can cause harm if not controlled.
The outcome is the harm that results from an uncontrolled hazard.
A risk is a combination of the probability that a particular outcome will occur and the
severity of the harm involved.
“Hazard”, “risk”, and “outcome” are used in other fields to describe e.g. environmental
damage, or damage to equipment. However, in the context of OSH in the apparel industry,
“harm” generally describes the direct or indirect degradation, temporary or permanent, of the
physical, mental, or social well-being of workers.
The health and safety legislation in India:
India has 16 laws related to working hours, conditions of services and employment. The
major legal provision for the protection of health and safety are contained in two acts: the
Factories Act (1948) and the Mines Act (1952). The factories act was amended in 1987 which
provides for pre – employment and periodic medical examination and mandatory, periodic
monitoring of the work environment in those industries defined as hazardous. Maximum
permissible limits have been established for a number of chemicals. The factories act is
applicable only to factories employing 10 or more workers and covers only about 13 million
workers. The factories and mines acts are implemented by the state factory inspectorates.
OSH is split between two ministries. While primary health care and medical education fall in
the mandate of Health ministry, the ministry of labours has the main responsibility for
occupational health and safety. OSH is implemented at the state level and monitored by the
Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health who employ engineers and medical staffs to
Indian Standard on OH&S management systems:
Occupational Health and Safety demands adoption of a structured approach for the
identification of hazards, their evaluation and control of risks in the organisation. Hence,
Bureau of Indian Standards has formulated an Indian Standard on OH&S management
systems. It is called as the IS 18001:2000 Occupational Health and Safety Management
Systems. This standard prescribes the requirements for an OH&S Management Systems, to
enable an organization to formulate a policy, taking into account the legislative requirements.
It also provides information about significant hazards and risks, which the organization can
control in order to protect its employees and others, whose health and safety may be affected
by the activities of the organization.
International standard OHSAS 18000:
OHSAS 18000 is an international occupational health and safety management system
specification developed by the London-based BSI Group, a multinational business chiefly
concerned with the production and distribution of standards related services. OHSAS 18000
comprises two parts, OHSAS 18001 and 18002.
The British Standards - Occupational Health and Safety management Systems
Requirements Standard BS OHSAS 18001 was developed within the framework of the ISO
standards series. Allowing it to integrate better into the larger system of ISO certifications.
ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems and ISO 14001 Environmental Management System
can work in tandem with BS OHSAS 18001/18002 to complement each other and form a
better overall system. Each component of the system is specific, auditable, and accreditable
by a third party after review. Some of the direct and indirect benefits of OHS interventions
identified in the literature are summarized below:
Reduced insurance and workers' compensation premiums
Reduced litigation costs
Reduced sick pay costs
Lower injury and illness costs
Fewer production delays
Reduced product and material damage
Improved production/productivity rates
Reduced staff turnover
Improved corporate image
Improved chances of winning contacts
Improved job satisfaction/morale
Four things that links Productivity and OSHAS:
The drive to link employees' productivity with their overall health and safety is fuelled by
The need for more innovative ways to reduce the high rates of workplace injury and
The pressure to reduce the social and economic costs of injury and illness, particularly
The need to improve labour productivity without employees needing to work longer
hours and/or taking on more work.
The need to offer good working conditions as an enticement to recruit and retain
skilled workers in a tight labour market.
1. Introduction to Occupational health and safety, Work place safety module by
International Labour Organisation.
2. Work place health and safety hand book by Safework, SA.
3. Occupational health – An Aid to productivity by Roger Thomas, Methods Apparel
4. Guidelines on Occupational Safety and Health Management Systems, SafeWork, ILO
5. Occupational safety and health in India: Now and the future by Shyam Pingle on
Industrial health 2012.
6. www.ohsas-18001-occupational-health-and-safety.com & www.ilo.org
Centre for Research and Excellence
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