Work-related health risks
The World Day for Safety and Health at Work is celebrated every 28th of April. It provides a unique opportunity to highlight the importance of preventing hazards in the workplace. After all, work-related diseases and injuries “strain health systems, reduce productivity and can have a catastrophic impact on household incomes” according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) report.
When referring to hazardous health and safety conditions at work, there are sectors that have traditionally been more affected, such as construction, mining and extraction of raw materials or agriculture. Every day, workers belonging to these sectors are at risk of falls, cuts, entrapment, collapses or poisoning.
Occupational risk factors classified by the ILO include exposure to long working hours, air pollution, asthmagens, carcinogens, noise and ergonomic hazards.
In the most extreme case, the occupational hazard can lead to the death of the worker. Progress has been made in this area globally, with a 14% reduction in the number of work-related deaths between 2000 and 2016. However, the challenge is still a pressing topic given that almost 2 million people die each year from work-related causes.
Integrating health into work: new risks
As well as the professionals mentioned, there are others which also involve new risks associated with technical innovation, along with organisational and social change. They occur in the following sectors:
- ICT and digitisation
- Green jobs
- Emerging self-employment and outsourcing
- Temporary work
Security and quality
Establishing strategies that integrate health as a cross-cutting element in the business is the most effective and widely used solution. To achieve this, many organisations implement Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) management systems. These are designed to integrate and coordinate quality management using environmental and health policies. Here are some of the clear benefits, which will be apparent even in the short term:
- Improved communication
- Greater cohesion when it comes to decision-making on productivity, security and quality
- Increase in productivity
- Improvement in employee motivation and wellbeing levels
The International Labor Organization (ILO) has 40 standards related to occupational safety and health. Two of these regulations are:
- Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (No. 187).
- Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No. 155) and its Protocol of 2002.
These are just two examples, although there are many others. In addition to these conventions, there are a number of directories with recommendations. There are also specific national and European occupational risk prevention regulations in force. These are classified by sectors and groups, and include laws, directives, treaties and guides, among other documents.
In short, the protection of workers is extensively regulated. However, compliance with regulations is not always easy for companies, in many cases for organizational reasons.
In order for a company to comply, it is essential to have an Occupational Health and Safety Management System or OHS. Thanks to this tool, it is possible to protect the physical and psychological well-being of employees, which is why it is so important at every level of a company and in the supply chain. APlanet provides software with the potential to comprehensively and optimally manage this and other company systems.
Occupational safety and quality indicators
More and more companies are implementing systems that aim to make their processes more sustainable and safer. These are EHS systems, which stand for environment, health and security. Thus, environment, health and safety are issues that have begun to be measured using indicators or KPIs. These indicators are not only used in large companies, but also in small and medium-sized enterprises.
In this sense, the ISO 45001:2018 standard includes the requirements of an OHS system. By doing so, companies achieve:
- A continuous improvement of their practices, in accordance with occupational safety considerations.
- Better compliance with current regulations.
- Achievement of sustainability and risk prevention objectives.
On the other hand, there are the GRI standards, which companies use for reporting. GRI 403 refers to occupational health and safety.
Enhancing prevention and health through OHS culture
Workplaces with an OHS culture adopt measures to promote prevention, health and physical and mental well-being. In them, employees do not hesitate to raise their concerns or doubts about safety, risks, ergonomics and health. Communication, trust and mutual respect prevail. The organization’s management, for its part, is receptive to their demands and acts to correct risk situations. Both actors work in the same direction to find sustainable, effective and timely solutions.
The UN calls us to “act together to build a positive safety and health culture“. In this regard, occupational health is becoming increasingly important as the legislative and regulatory framework obliges companies to meet certain requirements. The physical and emotional well-being of employees is also linked to business productivity. The benefits of a comprehensive and cross-cutting approach to this issue are numerous. Thus, organizations that wish to achieve their objectives in this area have in digitization a basic tool. If you are interested in obtaining software for sustainability professionals, please contact us to request a demo.
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