Work related accidents and diseases are rampant across the world as most of the employers fail to realise and exercise their moral and legal responsibilities towards their employees’ wellbeing. Chemical hazards, physical hazards, biological hazards, psychological hazards and hazards associated with non-ergonomic practices are some of the most commonly encountered health hazards in various occupations. Occupational accidents and diseases levy heavy cost burden on both employees and employers. It has been estimated that it could be as high as 3-4% of a country’s gross national product, on a national scale. Owing to all of the above reasons, it is essential that employees, employers and unions work together towards alleviating the hazards and their consequences.
What is Occupational Health and Safety?
Occupational health and safety is the science that deals with the anticipation, evaluation and management of risks that arise in the workplace posing danger to the physical, mental and social wellbeing of employees in all occupations. Occupational health and safety is possible only with the cooperation and participation of both employees and employers. The issues that are addressed with more prominence are the ones that are more difficult to be defied such as industrial hygiene, toxicology, engineering safety, psychology, ergonomics etc.
What is the Scope of Occupational Health and Safety Management?
The scope of occupational health and safety has evolved gradually and broadly encompasses:
- 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
- Placing and maintaining workers in an occupational environment as per their physical and mental needs
- Customization of work to workers
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) resulted in the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an agency of the US Department of Labour, which aims at setting and enforcing protective workplace safety and health standards. OSHA standards describe the procedures that employers are legally bound to follow to protect their employees from workplace hazards. Some of the examples of OSHA standards include, but not limited to providing fall protection, limiting contact with hazardous chemicals, preventing trenching cave-ins, preventing exposure to potential pathogens, preventing exposure to harmful substances such as lead, asbestos etc., providing safety equipment and training for certain occupations etc.
Without prior notice, OSHA conducts inspections triggered by any complaints from a worker in case their employer is not following standards set by OSHA. If violation of rules actually exists, OSHA may issue fines and citations to the employer.
Who does and doesn’t OSHA cover?
OSHA is functional in a large population of workers in various occupations as listed below:
Private sector workers: Private sector employees and employers in all fifty states, the District of Columbia and other United States Jurisdiction are covered either through federal OSHA or OSHA approved state plan.
State and local governments: Employees working in state and local government agencies in states with OSHA-approved state program are covered by OSH Act protections but not by federal OSHA.
Federal government agencies: All federal agencies must have a safety and health program with standards same as that of private employers.
Not covered under the OSHA Act: Those uncovered under the OSHA act include the self-employed, immediate family members of farm workers and workers protected by other federal agencies such as mine workers.
Health and safety must be a priority and hence all workers must be comprehensively trained so as to evaluate early symptoms of potential occupational diseases before they become chronic. Management should ensure that the hazard is eliminated or kept under control.
Online Course in Occupational Health and Safety Management at James Lind Institute (JLI)
James Lind Institute (JLI) offers advanced Post Graduate Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety Management laying a great emphasis on contemporary occupational health and safety concerns. The curriculum for this course has been designed by industry experts and provides comprehensive knowledge on various aspects of occupational health and safety. It also imparts analytical skills related to safety risk identification and mitigation. Individuals with a degree in biosciences, medicine, pharmacy, engineering, nursing and other allied fields are eligible to enrol for this self-paced distance e-learning program. However, individuals without the above mentioned qualifications but with a prior work experience in the related areas are also eligible to take up this course.
For more details on the program structure, fees, assessment, eligibility, academic support and career opportunities, please visit the JLI website www.jliedu.com