A Look at Workplace Health and Safety

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Probably just for the purpose of refreshing our minds on a new year, let’s take a look at workplace health and safety issues. Why do fatal incidents occur? What are the causes or sources  of these unfortunate events? What really can an HSE or staff do to minimize the possibilities of these occurrences.

Before we jump into the WHYs and HOWs, let’s look at the WHAT! What do the numbers tell us about workplace health and safety? Very terrible I’d say:

According to a report by premium times, a local Nigerian newspaper, “The federal government says 2.78 million workers die from occupational accidents and work-related diseases annually, while additional 374 million suffer from non-fatal occupational accidents globally each year”.

Not a good one you’d agree. But we might want to ask, “how?”. What particular incidents make the numbers this high? The usual suspects of course –

  • Work-related ill-health
  • Workers suffering from muscular-skeletal disorders
  • Workers suffering from depression or anxiety
  • Slips, falls, and trips on same level
  • Injured while handling, lifting, carrying
  • Falls from height
  • Struck by moving, flying, falling object
  • Manual lifting and handling
  • Acts of violence
  • Contact with machinery
  • Strike against something fixed /stationary

With the above in mind, an HSE manager can diligently measure workplace safety relying on records from leading and lagging indicator analysis. By doing this, a manager can tell what areas are of interest to him as far as safety and health is concerned. All of the above sources of fatal incidents might not apply to your organisation. But these are the usual suspects, as far as analysis go.

But beyond analysis, there is a need to draft an effective policy to tackle foreseen possibilities. And beyond policies, and to avoid policy failures, effective implementation must take place.



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