What is Health and Safety
Health and Safety is a multidisciplinary field popularly known as HSE (Health, Safety and Environment). It is a field concerned with the safety, health, and welfare of people both at work and in other locations.
According to the joint ILO/WHO Committee on Occupational Health:
“The main focus in occupational health is on three different objectives: (i) the maintenance and promotion of workers’ health and working capacity; (ii) the improvement of working environment and work to become conducive to safety and health and (iii) 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.”
As states above, the primary goal of an the Health and Safety program is to foster a safe and healthy working environment. To achieve this goal, the health and safety management system (HSE-MS) was developed.
The Health and Safety management System contains a specialized structure which makes the whole process of managing Health and Safety successful. Which ever HSE-MS you adopt, the core elements are the same, which include:
- Planning and implementation
- Measuring performance
- Reviewing performance
All the elements in the HSE-MS are integral to a successful HSE program in any organization; HSE-Ms is the backbone of HSE.
Health and Safety as a Law
HSE is a law; and we know that laws are binding and non-negotiable. Also there are punishment attached to breaking laws, like fine and imprisonment if found guilty.
This is captured in the reasons why we practice HSE;
- Legal reasons: Law and binding
- Economic reasons: Accident is costly and bad for business
- Moral reasons: No man in his rightful sense want the other person injured, hence he does what is necessary to prevent injury.
These laws are presented as Acts/Regulations. We have lots of Acts/Regulations guarding HSE. Here are some of them:
- Regulations under the Safety, Health and Welfare Act 2005 (S.I. No. 10 of 2005)
- Regulations under the Chemicals Act 2008 (No 13 of 2008)
- Regulations under the European Communities Act 1972
- Regulations under the Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Acts
- Regulations under the Chemical Weapons Act 1997
- Regulations under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997
- Regulations under the Safety Health & Welfare (Offshore Installations) Act 1987 (No. 18 of 1987)
- Regulations under the Safety in Industry Act 1980
- Regulations under the Dangerous Substances Act 1972 and Amendment 1979
- Regulations under the Factories Act 1955
Click on any of the links above to view the various Regulations made under the related Acts.
These Acts/Regulations as highlighted above contains HSE policies, HSE standards, HSE Procedures and HSE Practices that will help in achieving the optimum HSE goal.
Who is an Health and Safety Practitioner
As mentions earlier, HSE is a profession; i.e, it is people oriented. Anyone who is in the Health and Safety practice is called an HSE (Health and Safety) Personnel (Professional).
To be called an HSE professional, you must get trained in the profession. The HSE profession have a wide range of professional areas like – Occupational safety specialist, Industrial Hygienist, HSE Technician, Occupational Health Nurse, Safety Engineer, Environmentalist, Fire Warden, Rigger, etc.
So to function in this profession you have to get trained, and develop yourself in your area of interest.
There are wide range of HSE programs; Certificate, Diploma, B.Sc, M.Sc and PHd programs. The starting point could be either the Certificate program or B.Sc program.
Here are lists of some articles that will help you in choosing the best program for yourself:
Responsibilities of HSE Personnels
The roles and responsibilities of HSE professionals vary with region and organization, but may include evaluating working environments, developing, endorsing and encouraging measures that might prevent injuries and illnesses, providing OSH information to employers, employees, and the public, providing medical examinations, and assessing the success of worker health programs.
For example, see:
Checking the different duties, there will always be disparities based on region and organization. That not withstanding, all are the different responsibilities in the different HSE functional areas.
In conclusion, this article has been able to give you an overview of what HSE is all about. The article has also given important links where you can check-up for more information on some subject matter.
In case of an additional question not captured in this article, feel free to ask using the comment box or via our contact page.