Advice on smoking at work is one thing most HSE professionals ignore in the workplace. Though there is no legislation that ban smoking, there are legislations that controls it. In order to protect non-smokers at work some recommendations have been made to promote smoke-free workplace. Smoking in public places and the workplace is a public health matter.
Generally, smoking within an enclosed or substantially enclosed public place or workplace is illegal.
The aim of the smoke free workplace is to protect all staff from the harmful effects of second-hand tobacco smoke, and to prevent problems arising by ensuring that all parties including employers, smokers, and nonsmokers have a clear understanding of their rights and responsibilities; and ensure that the workplace complies with the law.
It is the duty of the HSE professionals to help reduce the risk to the health and safety of their employees from second-hand smoking (Passive smokers) to as low a level as is reasonably practicable by giving advice on smoking at work to their employers, and also encourage employers to adopt smoking policies in the workplace which give precedence to the wishes of non-smokers not to be exposed to second-hand smoking.
The HSE personnel can achieve this by (Advice on smoking at work):
- Encouraging his employer to have a specific policy on smoking in the workplace.
- The smoking policy should give priority to the needs of non-smokers who do not wish to breathe tobacco smoke.
- Employers should consult their employees and their representatives on the appropriate smoking policy to suit their particular workplace.
Some countries had set up regulations to control smoking, examples include:
- In England from 1st July 2007 all public places and workplaces became smoke-free with few exemptions.
- In Wales the Smoke Free Premises was also established. “(Wales) Regulations 2007 came into force on 2 April 2007.
- In Scotland under the Prohibition of Smoking in Certain Premises (Scotland) Regulations 2006 public places and workplaces became smoke-free, with few exemptions.
Anyone that was found to breaches the law was made to face heavy penalties.
The measure adopted in these countries highlighted above can also be implemented in our workplaces to make our workplace smoke free.
Some things employers could do to ensure smoke free workplace are (Advice on smoking at work):
- No-smoking signs should be displayed in workplaces and work vehicles.
- Reasonable steps should be taken to make sure that staff, customers, members and visitors are aware that they may not smoke in the premises or in work vehicles;
- There should be good monitoring plan in place to make sure no one smokes on the premises or in vehicles.
As a HSE professional you can help your employer achieve a smoke free workplace and protect your worker’s health by encouraging their employer on smoking at work.