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Ensuring Health And Safety At Workplaces

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2068 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In our day to day lives, accidents tend to occur under different circumstances some of which can be avoided. Most accidents are attributed to carelessness of which it is believed just a little carefulness could avoid and in the process reduce the many serious injuries incurred and even at times death or decapitation. Accidents are unplanned and unfortunate events that results in damage, injuries or upsets of some kind. This is the same even at workplaces. Most accidents at work places are sometimes as a result of carelessness. These accidents can be avoided if the following measures can be taken at the places of work. Management is committed to safety in the work place, employees are informed about accident prevention, consultation between the employer and employee takes place on a regular basis, there is a trusting relationship between the employer and staff and employees have actual input into the decision-making process.

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Employers and employees attitude towards accidents also contribute greatly towards preventing them from occurring. If both the employer and the employee approach safety at places of work with diligence, then these cases of accidents will be greatly reduced and inefficiency due to lose of time from work by employees will be avoided. The best method to achieve this is through cooperation of the two main partners (employer and employee who may be represented by unions), an approach known as the shared responsibility model.

Workplace and Injury Hazards

Accidents at work are sometimes caused by a complex combination of unsafe employee behavior and unsafe working conditions. Several factors contribute to the complexity of managing safety in the workplaces. These factors include effects of some industrial diseases don’t show up for years, employers may cover up a health or safety problem before the inspector arrives, employers may fail to monitor or disclose health risks and employees may fail to follow safety practices at the workplaces or engage in dangerous behavior while at work.

It is also critical that organizations consider the safety of members of the public who enter the company property. Awareness of health hazards is very important. Employers should give thought to preparing for emergency health hazards.

While the number of workplace injuries may level off, the direct cost of injuries does not. Moreover, workplace injuries result in several indirect costs such as damages, recruitment, inefficiency and reduced production. Men are more than twice as likely as women to have a time loss injury while with reference to age, younger workers are most likely to be injured. Logging and forestry, construction, manufacturing and transportation are among the most dangerous industries and the most common types of injuries are strains and sprains followed by contusions, crushing or bruises. The most likely body parts to be injured are in order back followed by fingers then legs.

Health Hazards

Health hazards can be classified into four categories.

  1. Physical agents – exposure to physical elements.
  2. Biological agents (Biohazards) – exposure to natural organisms.
  3. Chemical agents – exposure to chemical compounds or harmful toxic substances.
  4. Ergonomically related injuries – work environment related including stress, strain, fatigue and back injuries.

Across the country there is growing emphasis on the health of younger workers who are the most injured. The most common injuries affecting them include electrocution and machine injuries yet a number of them are not aware of their health and safety rights and responsibilities at the workplace.

Safety Regulations

Every employee has fundamental rights which are:-

  1. The right to know about hazards in the workplace.
  2. The right to participate in correcting the hazards.
  3. The right to refuse dangerous work.

A key element of health and safety laws is joint occupational health and safety committee which is required in every workplace. Responsibilities of these committees include to meet at least once a month, to ensure adequate records are kept regarding accidents and health hazards, to investigate and resolve complaints by employees, to participate in investigations of health and safety-related injuries, to regularly monitor health and safety programs, to monitor records of injuries and illnesses, to cooperate with safety officers investigating a complaint or accident, to develop, establish and promote health and safety programs and procedures and to obtain information from the employer and government agencies concerning existing potential hazards in the workplace.

Some other federal laws are:-

  1. The hazardous product act whose primary objective is protecting consumers by regulating the sale of dangerous products. It’s an important part of the Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS), which requires that suppliers label all hazardous products and provide a material safety data sheet (MSDS), on each of them which contains hazard symbol, information on the properties and composition of the product, nature of the potential hazard that may result from misuse of the product and suggested emergency treatment procedure the employer must provide training to enable employees recognize the WHMIS hazard symbols.
  2. The transportation of dangerous goods act which makes transport Canada a federal government agency responsible for handling and transporting dangerous materials by federally regulated shipping and transportation companies. It requires that the carriers should be informed of dangerous goods which should be classified according to a coding system.
  3. The Canadian center for occupational health and safety act whose objectives are to promote health and safety in the workplace and the physical and mental health of the working populace in Canada, to facilitate consultation and cooperation among federal, provincial and territorial jurisdiction and to participate by labour and management in the relevant to the Canadian circles, to aid in the progress and maintenance of policies as well as programs tailored towards the elimination of occupational hazards and finally to serve as a national center for statistics and other information relating to occupational health and safety. The center is supervised by a board of governors made up of the federal government representatives, labor and employers. Organizations are now connected electronically with the center and have access to relevant information.

Safety Enforcement

In the federal jurisdiction all industrial units are inspected at least once a year to confirm their safe operation. The numbers of visits depend on unit’s accidental records and its size. During these visits, the safety may at any time enter any property of business and are given a wide range of powers as stipulated in section 14 of the Canada labour code (part 2).

No law by itself can make a workplace safe. It is far more effective not to mention less costly if the responsibility for safety becomes a concern for everyone starting with top managers going down to the supervisors and lastly the employees. The top managers must set policies and make concern for health and safety of the organization’s culture and strategy while the supervisors must become proficient in maintaining safety which means knowing about health and safety laws and regulations and learning communications skills in order to convey the necessary information to employees. Employees are responsible for working safely. It is imperative to train the employees so that they comprehend safety rules on how to safely operate equipment. Good safety performances should be recognized and rewarded while unsatisfactory practices be documented and corrected.

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Human resource professionals should ensure consistent enforcement of all safety and health rules. This is achieved through creating a safety climate in the organization and conducting health and safety audits voluntarily or as a result of being targeted by government health and safety officials. Safety climates are becoming an important factor affecting safety knowledge and motivation.

Workplace Stress

Workplace stress occurs where there is pressure or unrealistic job demands than the worker can deliver within the required time. It is often the conflict between the employee’s ability and the job demands. Senior management officials are also recognizing the importance of health issues on employee performance. Stress symptoms involve both mental health and physical health. People who are stressed may become nervous, easily provoked to anger and chronically worried about things. Exposure to stressful working conditions called job stressors which can directly influence the health and safety of employees and this is what causes workplace stress. Frequently occurring stress is known as acute stress. The general and widely recognized cause of stress is change because it requires adaptation. A substantial and prolonged stress can bring about a condition of mental, emotional and sometimes physical exhaustion known as burnout. Slight stress improves performance due to the challenge until reaches a plateau after which it becomes too great and performance starts to decline because the employee loses the ability to cope, becomes unable to make decisions and is erratic inn behavior. Solutions to workplace stress can be curative which correct the outcome of stress or preventive which attempt to change the cause of stress. In managing stress at work, the human resource department can come up with a stress audit to evaluate the extent of dysfunctional stress hence identify the cause of stress. Organizations can also introduce fitness and employee wellness programs. These programs have a positive impact on reducing stress and absenteeism and increasing productivity.

Other contemporary workplace safety issues include workplace security, sick building syndrome, workplace violence and ergonomics.

The human resource managers face challenges when they have an AIDS infected employee. It’s a breach of human rights laws to discriminate against AIDS infected people but just in case the other employees refuse to work with that person the employer should establish a policy and have an action plan in place before such a case arises among employees or their dependant.

It must be continually stressed that top management’s involvement in setting a health and safety

Policies are essential and if it does not assume the leadership role, it sets example by its inaction and middle managers, first line supervisors and employees will behave accordingly. It is important to have a control process in place. Causes of accidents should be identified and eliminated, an effective training exercise should be carried out, the human resource department should use its information system to monitor for patterns of accidents or health problems and finally management should continually encourage safety awareness on the part of super visors and employees.


Occupational health and safety continues to be an imperative part of the organization’s operation. It is taking the centre stage in the priorities of the human resources management. Most of the occupational health and safety acts created by the federal and provincial governments now require the establishment of safety committees in companies. The prevention of accidents is therefore key to the human resource managers, who should also focus. AIDS at the workplace is an important issue and the human resource department needs to take measures to curb severe friction among work groups or irrational actions from frightened employees that may arise as a result of HIV and AIDS cases.


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