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Ensuring a safe and healthy working environment

Ensuring a safe and healthy working environment

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Serious workplace injury or death can change lives forever for families, friends, communities, and co-workers. Human loss and suffering is immeasurable.  Occupational injuries and illnesses can provoke major crises for the families in which they occur. In addition to major financial burdens, they can impose substantial time demands on uninjured family members.

Every person who leaves for work in the morning should expect to return home at night in good health. Can you imagine the knock on the door to tell you your loved one will never be returning home?

Or the phone call to say he’s in the hospital and may never walk again? Ensuring that husbands return to their wives, wives to their husbands, parents to their children, and friends to their friends — that is the most important reason to create a safe and healthy work environment.

Safety in the workplace helps to reduce cost for business. If a worker is injured on the job, it costs the company in lost work hours, increased insurance rates, workers’ compensation premiums and possible litigation. Productivity is lost when other workers have to stop work to deal with the injury. Even after the injured employee has been sent home or taken to the hospital, other employees may be distracted or need to take time off from work in the aftermath of the incident. Even a single injury can have far-reaching and debilitating effects on business.

Safe workers are loyal workers. Any business knows that employee attrition and absenteeism can be major obstacles. When business create a healthy and safe workplace, they reduce those issues in several ways. By budgeting for safety improvements and making safety part of a business operational plan, you engender trust. By involving employees in safety decisions — through reporting, committees, walk-throughs and meetings — it shows that workers opinion matters. By following through on their input and improving safety, business prove quite tangibly that they care about their workers’ well-being. Workers typically respond by working harder, showing more pride in their jobs and remaining loyal.

Finally, safety improves quality. Time and again, companies that put safety first turn out higher quality products. In some cases, that’s because a safe workplace tends to be a more efficient one, free of debris and tangles of cords. In other cases, it’s a matter of focus. By working in a clean, efficient environment, workers are able to reduce distractions and truly focus on the quality of what they do.

I am urging the business sector to please provide a safe working environment for your workers. Workers, it is also your right to demand that you work in a clean and safe environment.

Dr. Rosmond Adams, MD; MSc (Public Health); M.S (Bioethics) is a medical doctor and a public health specialist with training in bioethics and ethical issues in medicine, the life sciences and research. He is a lecturer of medical ethics and Research Methods.

He is the Head of Health Information, Communicable Disease and Emergency Response at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). He is also a member of the World Health Organization Global Coordination Mechanism on the Prevention and Control of NCDs.

(The views expressed here are that of the writer and not of any organizations). You may contact him at adamsrosmond@gmail.com

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