Organizations frame many approaches to ensure health and safety of their employees. But not all of the approaches focus on contribution of both work design and employee behavior to safety. An organizational approach to safety is effective only when both the work design and employee behavior work in coordination towards it.
Many organizational and individual issues emerge in management of employee health and safety. They can be summarized as follows:
1. Physical Work Settings:
The physical settings of work affect the performance of employees to a great extent. Some of these factors include temperature, noise levels, and proper lighting affect job
performance. Other work setting factors include size of work area, kinds of materials used, distance between work areas, cubicle arrangement, et al.
- Sick Building Syndrome: It is a situation in which employees experience acute health problems and discomfort due to the time spent in a building (particularly their workplace). Some factors that lead to sick buildings include poor air quality, inadequate ventilation, improper cleanliness, rodents, stench of adhesives and glues, et al.
- Ergonomics: The term comes from the Greek word ergon, which means “work,” and omics which means “management of.” Ergonomics is the study of physiological, psychological, and engineering design aspects of a job, including such factors as fatigue, lighting, tools, equipment layout, and placement of controls. It is the interface between men and machines. Ergonomics is taken into consideration when designing the workstation for computer operators. Problems of back ache, eye strain and headache arise due to long working hours spent in front of computers.
- Engineering of Work Equipments and Materials: Accidents can be prevented in a way by proper placements of dangerous machines. Moreover design of such machines and equipments also plays an important role in safety. Providing safety guards and covers on equipments, emergency stop buttons and other provisions help in reducing the accidents considerably.
- Cumulative Trauma and Repetitive Stress: Cumulative trauma disorder occurs when same muscles are used repetitively to perform some task. This results in injuries of musculoskeletal and nervous system. Employees encounter high levels of mental and physical stress also.
- Accident Rates and Individuals: An individual approach to safe environment helps in reducing the accident rates. This is generally because more problems are caused by careless employees than by machines or employer negligence. A positive attitude towards work environment and other practices promotes employee safety.