Occupational health, also commonly referred to as occupational health and safety or workplace health and safety, is a multidisciplinary field concerned with the safety, health and welfare of people at work.
In some work environments, employers put in place the necessary safety measures and also improve access to health and welfare services for their employees.
On the other hand, however, some companies have nothing to do with the above, workers are on their own in case of an injury or illness contracted from within the work place. This does not only affect the worker, the company performance deteriorates too.
World Health Organization notes that occupational health deals with all aspects of health and safety in the workplace and has a strong focus on primary prevention of any possible hazards.
The health of the workers has several determinants, including risk factors at the workplace leading to cancers, accidents, musculoskeletal diseases, respiratory diseases, hearing loss, circulatory diseases, stress related disorders and communicable diseases among others.
Ruth Balemezi, a specialist in occupational health and safety, consultant at Nerves and Bones Rehabilitation center Ntinda, notes that if employers don’t spend time on ensuring safety of their workers, they are most likely to encounter huge loses.
As an employer, in case an employee is injured from the work place, you will possibly lose money in insurance claims, get less work done due to injured or sick employees, have reduced profitability, lose money in paying medical bills as well as in compensation.
She notes that most employees don’t know the risks at their work places which is absurd, she therefore advises employers to put the following in place.
According to Ruth, some employees don’t know the risk at work places and therefore should be trained consistently by professionals in occupational health and its diversity.
“There should be health and safety policies that ensure safety at work. For example no one should enter a factory without a helmet,” she explains.
Harm identification; look for things that could cause harm or accidents and find ways to address them.
You should also put control measures that will help workers avoid the accidents and other health problems that may result.
People at risk
Balemezi notes that 7/10 of her patients with back pain are office workers due to the kind of chairs they sit on.
Most of hand injuries are also of office workers due to constant typing which strains the nerves.
Manufacturing company workers also take a big percentage due to injuries from machines, abrupt falls of equipment and health hazards brought about by fumes emitted from the production chambers.
Most office workers are at visual risks (due to daily computer use) and most top management bosses suffer from psychosocial risks due to stress. All these need to be addressed by both the employers and employees.
An employee can become disabled due to accidents or injuries, mental disorders due to stress, heart problems and possibly drug abuse (still due to stress).
Balemezi emphasizes that no one should be incapacitated from work since there are precaution measures one can take to avoid them.
In case an incident has already happened, put measures to avoid re-occurrence of the same problem. Having a fully running health and safety system will help increase productivity at work hence increased revenue.
She advises employees to put all the organization’s health rules and regulations in practice because health is life. She notes that they should demand for safety precautions in their work places in case they aren’t in place already.