When we talk about the foundations of Health and Safety, we are talking about the basics, the building block where every others things are built upon.
Every profession has its basic in which if you do not understand, it will be difficult to understand.
So at the end of this article, you will understand the foundation of safety; the building block where you can build upon to get understanding.
The Foundations of Health and Safety
The foundation of health and Safety covers majorly four (4) things:
- Aim of Occupational Health and Safety
- Scope of Health and Safety (Occupational health and Safety)
- Reasons for practicing health and Safety
- The source of Health and safety information.
1. Aim of Occupational Health and Safety
Occupational health and safety aims at the promoting and maintaining of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations; the protection of workers in their employment from risks resulting from factors adverse to health and safety.
The main focus in occupational health and safety is on three different objectives:
- The maintenance and promotion of workers’ health, safety and working capacity.
- The improvement of working environment and work to become conducive to safety and health and
- The development of work organizations and working cultures in a direction which supports health and safety at work and in doing so also promotes a positive social climate and smooth operation and may enhance productivity of the undertakings.
The concept of working culture is intended in this context to mean a reflection of the essential value systems adopted by the undertaking concerned. Such a culture is reflected in practice in the managerial systems, personnel policy, principles for participation, training policies and quality management of the undertaking.
2. Scope of Workplace Health and Safety
When we talk about the scope of workplace health and safety we are talking about the coverage area, its relevant area and what it deals with. The basic scope of Health and safety is founded around –
- Promoting and maintaining overall wellbeing of workers in all occupations.
- Preventing occupational health hazards among the workers.
- Protecting workers from risks associated with their occupation.
Within the scope of health and safety, you will have to understand basic acronyms, meanings and distinctions:
Some Health and Safety Abbreviations and their Meanings
- HSE – Health Safety Environment
- OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health Administration
- IOSH – Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
- NEBOSH – National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health
- ISO – International Standard Organization
- SCBA – Self Contained Breathing Apparatus
- SCUBA – Self Contained Under Water Breathing the Apparatus
- PFAS – Personal Fall Arrest System
- DCP – Dry Chemical Powder
- FFE – Fire Fighting Equipment
- WSC – World Safety Council
- FEE – Fire Extinguisher Equipment
- GFCI – Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter
- CS – Confined Space
- SOP – Safe Operating Procedure
- HAZCOM – Hazardous Communication
- RPE – Respiratory Protective Equipment
- IDLH – Immediately Danger to Life and Health
- STEL – Short Term Exposure Limit
- LEL – Lower Exposure Limit
- UEL – Upper Exposure Limit
- OEL – Occupational Exposure Limit
- HAZWOPER – Hazardous Waste Operability and Emergency Recovery
- PPM – Part Per Million
- TLV – Threshold Limit Value
- SWP – Safety Work Permit
- HWP – Hot Work Permit
- CWP – Cold Work Permit
- VEWP – Vehicle Entry Work Permit
- EIWP – Electrical Isolation Work Permit
- BP – Blanket Permit
- EMS – Emergency Management System
- FPS – Fall protection System
- FPR – Fall Protection Required
- SLC – Sling Load Capacity
- SLI – Safe Load Indicator
- HIRA – Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment
- JSA – Job Safety Analysis
- JHA – Job Hazard Analysis
- JRA – Job Risk Analysis
- WPA – Work Permit Authorization
- WPC – Work Permit Control
- MSDS – Material Safety Data Sheet
- ERP – Emergency Rescue Plan
- TBT – Tool Box Talk
- AED – Automated External Defibrillator
- LTA – Lost Time Accident
- UA – Unsafe Act
- UC – Unsafe Condition
Key Health and Safety Terms and their Meanings
Here we will consider some common health and safety terms you should know;
- Safety: Safety is mostly used together with health, this is why you will always hear Health and Safety. It is a practice that deals with the safety, health, welfare and wellbeing of people when they are at work.
- Health: Health is mostly used together with safety, this is why you will always hear Health and Safety. It is a state of complete emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Healthcare exists to help people stay well in these key areas of life.
- Welfare: This is all about providing basic facilities needed to further promote health and Safety.
- Accident: An accident is an event that has unintentionally happened, that results in damage, injury or harm.
- Hazard: A hazard is a source or situation that has the potential to cause harm, injury, damage to property, or other adverse consequences.
- Risk: Risk is a situation involving exposure to danger.
- Injury: An injury is a physiological damage to the living tissue of any organism
- Incident: An incident is an event that has unintentionally happened, but this may not result in damage, harm or injury.
- Risk Assessment: The definition of a risk assessment is a systematic process of identifying hazards and evaluating any associated risks within a workplace, then implementing reasonable control measures to remove or reduce them.
- Health and Safety policy: A health and safety policy sets out your general approach to health and safety. It explains how you, as an employer, will manage health and safety in your business.
- Health and Safety Management System: A safety and health management system means the part of the Organization’s management system which covers: the health and safety policy in a company, the planning process for accident and ill health prevention and the implementation of the policies.
- Near Miss: A near-miss is a potential hazard or incident in which no property was damaged and no personal injury was sustained, but where, given a slight shift in time or position, damage or injury easily could have occurred. Near misses also may be referred to as close calls, near accidents, or injury-free events.
- Dangerous Occurrence: Dangerous occurrences are certain unintended, specified events, which may not result in a reportable injury, but which do have the potential to cause significant harm.
3. Reasons for practicing health and Safety
Health and safety practices is founded on three (3) basic reasons:
- Moral reasons
- Legal reasons
- Financial reasons
Moral reasons for Health and Safety
It is actually morally right to practice health and safety; here are some moral arguments that backs this up:
- Employers owe a duty of care to those who could be affected by their business, including employees, contractors, visitors etc.
- It is morally right to prevention of injuries, illnesses (inc. mental illness) caused by work
- It is morally right to prevention of pain and suffering to others who could be affected, such as fellow employees, family and friends
- We should strive not to be one of the businesses contributing to the accident and ill health statistics (ref. HSE)
- The morale of the entire workforce can be negatively impacted by poor health and safety
- Our people come to work to provide for their family, not to be harmed by the work that they do
- Our people have shown loyalty to us through their hard work and deserve to have that loyalty returned by their employer looking after them.
You can see more moral arguments for practicing health and safety.
Legal reason for practicing Health and Safety
Health and safety at work is not optional. It is a criminal law requirement, and any employer who does not comply with this is subject to very serious legal risks, both on an organizational and personal level.
Executives and employees can go to jail for health and safety offences, and substantial fines are imposed.
In 2019/20, duty holders convicted of health and safety infringements were fined a total of £35,8 million, with an average penalty of £110,000 for each conviction.
For instance the primary legislation governing workplace health and safety in Australia is the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2011 which places a duty of care on all employers to ensure the health and safety of their employees. Employers must also provide a safe work environment, appropriate training and supervision, and implement risk management strategies to prevent accidents and injuries.
To comply with the WHS Act, employers must conduct regular risk assessments, provide adequate training and supervision, and maintain a safe work environment. Failure to comply with these obligations can result in legal action, fines, and even imprisonment.
Financial reasons for Health and Safety
Every business wants to make gain and safe money; this is what health and safety will help you accomplish. Here are some financial reasons for health and safety:
- Boost productivity: Beyond everything else, accidents and injuries in the workplace are a major disruption. Outside of the fact that members of your team can be forced to take absences, incidents themselves can stop a productive day in its tracks.
- Minimize lost work time: Workplaces that do not take the impact of the work environment on the health of their employees seriously risk a drastic level of absences and sick leave. Comprehensive hygiene rules, ergonomic working conditions, and other health and safety practices help the workforce stay healthy, meaning you don’t have to pay as much for members of the team who aren’t present.
- Reduce the costs of employees turnover: A high rate of accidents and illnesses can get in the way of staff retention efforts. If your staff notice risks that are not being addressed, they may be likely to attempt to find better working conditions elsewhere. As a result, you may have to pay the costs of advertising, recruitment and training which are all a significant financial and time cost.
- Reduces insurance premium: Every accident and injury in the workplace covered by your policy forces you to pay a minimum excess on top of what your insurance pays out. Furthermore, the more accidents you have to cover, the more expensive it gets. A comprehensive health & safety policy can be shown to your provider, ensuring them that you are a low-
risk customer, which can help reduce your premiums.
4. Sources of Health and Safety Information
The last foundation of Health and Safety is about health and Safety information. The question is, how do you get safety information:
It can be divided into:
- Internal sources of health and safety information
- External sources of health and safety information.
Internal sources which should be available within the organization include:
- Accident and ill-health record. absentee records.
- Absentee records.
- Inspection and audit reports.
- OSH manuals and procedures.
- Maintenance, risk assessment, and training records.
External sources, which are available outside the organization include:
- Health and safety legislation.
- International, European and National Standards.
- Health and safety magazines and journals.
- Worksafe, Western Australia.
- Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
The foundations of health and safety is the basics you should know as a Health and safety professional. So do well to follow this information painstakingly to create a background for proper learning and understanding.