Employee Health and Safety Complacency Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Similarly, employers may take advantage of this lack and not inform workers of their right to knowledge of the company's policies and procedures regarding safety features.

It is also possible that individuals, particularly those working on a temporary contract basis, are afraid to be replaced when they raise health and safety concerns. Therefore these individuals prefer to take the risk for the sake of the income generated.

In the beach environment and cockle picking industry, the following appears relevant:

The work does not require a high level of education, and therefore tends to attract workers with previously lower or no income. These individuals tend to be uninformed regarding safety standards not only as result of their lack of college or school education, but also as a result of the employer's neglect.

As in the above two environments, time constraints and bullying play a role. Workers are afraid to lose their jobs, and take the risk rather than complain about safety standards.

The likelihood that workers are fully informed regarding the nature of the company is very low, while it is much more likely that they are almost forced to accept substandard conditions. They are driven to accept by their desperation for survival, which often overrides health and safety concerns, or any attached legal issues.

Chapter 4 will analyze the data gathered, while Chapter 5 will include the conclusions regarding the hypotheses and questions described in Chapter 1. Recommendations will also be made in terms of the findings for workplace safety regulations.

Aims and Objectives of the study

The objectives of the study relates to its purpose. There appears to be a significant discrepancy between the recognition of health and safety as highly important workplace features and its practical application, as described via the above hypotheses. What is particularly intriguing in this regard is the fact that not only managers have motives for ignoring health and safety standards, but that individual workers also fail to take responsibility for their own well-being. The objective of this study is to finding the reasons for this tendency and making suggestions to curb it.

Surely, in our enlightened times, individuals should be focused upon their own well-being as conducive to performing better in the workplace, providing their superiors with a better image, and concomitantly providing the company's clients with better services. This is not only internally important in terms of the workplace, but also externally in terms of public image. A company that is widely known for its high safety standards is generally regarded in a more favorable light than one without them.

The main aim of this study is therefore to, in finding answers to health and safety questions and concerns, also to find ways to balance the need for speedy and voluminous work with the well-being that will ensure the quality of such work. In focusing on the three workplace areas mentioned above, the study also aims to benefit specific areas of work that are notorious for their lack of health and safety. The aim is then not only to find justifications for individual actions, as it were, but to curb the self-destructive tendencies of such individuals by empowering them with knowledge.

In this, the researcher aims for a deeper understanding of the underlying factors relating to a lack of safety awareness by employees. In developing such an understanding, the research will further aim to empower individuals for greater well-being both in their work and general lives. In short, the objective is to gain a deeper understanding of the issues relating to individual health and safety in the workplace, motivations for ignoring these, and find methods to curb the apparent self-destructive nature of workers placing the job ahead of their own needs.

2. Literature Survey

The literature suggests that stress particularly is a widely recognized health hazard for workers worldwide (Skews, 2006) the reason for this is that stress is not only a workplace phenomenon, but is also a significant factor in other areas of life, such as personal and family affairs. It is furthermore a very important factor because it is so difficult to recognize in its early stages. Once stress is found to be a hazard, it is often too late to act preventatively.

Another factor playing a significant role in health and safety is the tension between profit and worker health and safety. The article by Skews (2003) for example focuses on the rising costs to companies for implementing the required health and safety regulations and policies. The problem is particularly significant for small or emerging companies, as the drive towards initial profit often enjoys precedence over considerations of worker safety. In such cases, managers tend to exploit workers' ignorance an bully them into providing the maximum amount of output, without regard for health and safety needs.

Another issue prominently arising in the literature is the fact that the responsibility for health and safety lies not only with managers, but also with workers themselves. According to the Health and Safety Executive (2007), for example, it is the responsibility of workers to monitor their own health and safety needs, discuss these with management, and even go so far as reporting the failure of management to meet these requirements to the appropriate authorities. Documentation therefore supports the empowering function of providing employees with the correct information regarding their rights and responsibilities in the workplace.

The literature furthermore appears to support the ideal of a mutually beneficial contract between employers and employees. It is ultimately beneficial for employers to have adequate health and safety standards in place. Workers will experience a sense of well-being, which will serve as a basis for providing consistent quality in their work. This quality in turn results in returning customers and greater profits. Workers who empower themselves with adequate knowledge regarding the company and its policies before beginning work benefit by experiencing greater satisfaction in their work and reducing their stress levels both at work and in their personal lives.

Problems however arise with issues such as the initial investment into adequate health and safety standards. Startup and small companies may for example not have the funding available to put such standards in place, while concomitantly being driven by the need to make adequate initial profits. Concomitant with this, workers are often kept in the dark regarding their rights in terms of health and safety, particularly in industries that attract the lower-income sector of society. Employers in such cases tend to exploit workers' fear of losing their job and income.

The role of Industry

Office Environments

The Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA, 1996-2008) states that the office environment does not contain the physical hazards of workplaces such as the construction and fishing industries. The tendency is therefore to overlook entirely the necessity of safety precautions within the office environment. In order to curb this trend, the TSSA web site provides examples of possible office hazards that can be both physical and psychological. Indeed, the site states that 2000 office workers are absent for more than three days per year as the result of accidents at the workplace. Furthermore, stress plays a large role in the office environment, and contributes to the substantial hazards that office workers often face.

Possible physical risks, according to TSSA, include noise, hazardous substances, manual handling, computer or other display screens, machinery, and environments in which personal protective equipment is needed. Manual handling refers to cases where office equipment, furniture, or packages need to be moved. If these items are particularly heavy, it is vital that office workers be informed of the correct procedures for handling such items. Chemical hazards refer to cleaning substances, inks and toners, and could entail a significant risk for workers. Guidelines to use these should be clearly indicated and brought to workers' attention. Electrical cables and sockets could also entail hazards if not used correctly. Office workers should also be fully trained in using fire extinguishing equipment. Noise should be kept at an acceptable level, while temperature and lighting should be at optimal comfort levels.

A very important element of worker safety is rest periods. Office workers generally spend the majority of their time in a sitting position. In addition to ensuring that the ergonomics of the office space are at optimal levels, workers also need to be encouraged to take regular breaks from their work stations. This is an area where workers can easily neglect their own health and safety simply because they are so caught up in their duties that they tend to forget. At optimal levels, office workers should take hourly breaks from their stations.

According to the TSSA Web site, there is no specific legislation that governs office environment hazards such as stress, bullying and violence. Sexual harassment is however governed by certain legislation and can be prosecuted further. The other factors are however risks that need to be covered in…

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