Occupational factors that affect health and safety in the workplace are mainly job related factors. It covers job design, job plan, job schedule, job procedure, welfare structure, management structure, etc.
In this article, we will discuss some important occupational factors that affect health and safety in the workplace.
Before we move ahead, let us have a little of what occupational factors means.
What Are Occupational Factors
Occupational factors encompass various elements related to a person’s work environment and conditions that can impact their well-being, performance, and overall job satisfaction. These factors play a crucial role in influencing an individual’s professional life and can affect their physical and mental health. Understanding and managing these occupational factors is essential for creating a conducive and healthy work environment. In this discussion, we will explore some key occupational factors and their implications.
One significant aspect of occupational factors is the physical work environment. The conditions in which individuals work, including factors like lighting, temperature, noise levels, and ergonomic considerations, can have a profound impact on their health and productivity. Poor lighting, for instance, can lead to eye strain and fatigue, while inadequate temperature control may result in discomfort and decreased efficiency. Employers must pay attention to these factors to ensure that the work environment is conducive to the well-being and optimal performance of their employees.
Another crucial dimension of occupational factors is the nature of the work itself. Job demands, workload, and the level of autonomy employees have in their roles can significantly influence job satisfaction and stress levels. Excessive workload and unrealistic expectations can lead to burnout, negatively affecting both physical and mental health. On the other hand, jobs that lack challenge or autonomy may lead to boredom and reduced motivation. Striking the right balance in job design is essential to promote a positive and fulfilling work experience.
Social and interpersonal factors also play a pivotal role in the occupational context. Relationships with colleagues, supervisors, and subordinates can impact job satisfaction, collaboration, and overall workplace morale. A supportive and positive social environment can contribute to a sense of belonging and motivation. Conversely, conflicts, poor communication, and a toxic workplace culture can lead to stress, absenteeism, and turnover. Building strong interpersonal relationships and fostering a positive organizational culture are vital for creating a healthy work environment.
The organizational policies and practices in place within a company constitute another set of occupational factors. These include policies related to work hours, leave, benefits, and performance evaluations. Flexible work arrangements, comprehensive healthcare benefits, and fair performance evaluations contribute to employee satisfaction and well-being. Conversely, rigid policies, lack of benefits, and unfair practices can lead to dissatisfaction and negatively impact employee morale.
Career development opportunities also fall under the umbrella of occupational factors. Employees often seek growth and advancement in their careers, and organizations that invest in training programs, mentorship, and promotions contribute to a positive work environment. On the contrary, a lack of opportunities for career progression can lead to stagnation and frustration among employees.
10 Occupational Factors That Affect Health And Safety in the Workplace
Lets highlight these factors; note that this list is not conclusive;
- Organization’s priority: When the organization places job delivery ahead of health and safety, a lot can go wrong. As far as there is no top management commitment to health and safety in the workplace, everyone in such workplace will be at risk.
- Job design: Job design can either favour health and safety or impedes it. Job design without considering the safety aspect of the job, when safety issues arises, it may be difficult to control the risk at that point. This could result to unnecessary exposure of the workers to risk.
- Job plan: It is true that there is a safe way of carrying out every job. However, when planning for any job, Safety System of Work (SSW) should be considered. If SSW is not considered during job planning, tha job may not be delivered safely.
- Job schedule: Some job schedules are against safety ethics. For example, health and safety is against work stress; so when planning for a job, job schedule which will prevent work stress should be adopted. The schedule maybe to either reduce the time of exposure to inherent hazards in the job or reduce exposure to harsh environmental conditions.
- Job supervision: Lack or poor supervision in the workplace may lead to accidents, loss of work-time, waste of work materials, mental illness and depression. None of the above is in line with the objectives of practicing health and safety in the workplace. Hence, close supervision should always be ensured when carrying out a new task, when allotting a new task to a less experienced worker, and when risk involved in the job is high.
- Workers gratification: Everyone is happy when is applauded for a job well done; this may also include monetary benefits. When a worker feels cheated, used or maltreated by his superiors, it will affect him physically and emotionally leading to mental stress and depression. This will affect the workers mental health.
- Lack of social support: When the workers have the feeling that the management do not care about their welfare and wellbeing, it will have a negative impact on the job. It will equally affect their level of compliance to health and safety.
- Job equipment and materials: When the organization fails to provide adequate work equipment/materials which could foster health and safety in the workplace. The workers may be exposed to faulty equipment, non-health and safety friendly equipment, high hazardous materials, etc. This will in no way encourage health and safety in such workplace.
- Poor or No Inspection/Monitoring/Audit plan: When there is no plan for routine inspection/monitoring/audit, there is no way the organization can determine their current state with respect to health and safety. Key performance indicators (KPI) will not be set, and comparisons will not be made; at this point no one cares about health and safety.
- Communication: When good communication channel is not set, vital information concerning health and safety cannot be communicated. In this situation, information about incident, workers safety complains, emergency situations, management decisions, cannot be relayed to the target audience.
Other factors include:
- Lack of fairness and justice at work and more of biases and favoritism
- More Layoffs count and lack of economic security
- Poor works welfare plan
- No health insurance, etc.
All the above explain occupational factors could foster health and safety in the workplace if redefined in a positive direction.