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Causes of Workplace Safety and Health Report

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Updated: Dec 19th, 2018

Introduction

Occupational health and safety (OHS) is an area of study that focuses on safety, welfare, and health of people in a work environment (Chambers 53). Programs established under this field aim at creating a healthy work environment that promotes physical and psychological wellness for workers. OSH also covers people who may be affected by the work environment even if they do not work there. It has both ethical and economic obligations that should be fulfilled by organizations.

Organizations should ensure that workers are safe from workplace hazards that might affect their health. OHS minimizes costs related to injuries, illnesses, legal cases, and medical care (Chambers 54). It is important for the management of an organization to establish precautionary measures in order to protect workers from lethal effects of health hazards.

Ergonomic factors in a manufacturing organization include human errors, procedures, competence, and organizational culture (Chambers 54). Human factors and ergonomics refer to ways in which humans interact with their work environment, including systems that they use in doing their work.

For example, ergonomics is important in manufacturing companies to ensure that designs of equipment do not present health hazards to users. Ergonomics involves the interaction between workers, the equipment they use, and the work environment. This paper will evaluate ergonomic factors at Liberty Steel products, an organization that majors in metal fabrication and welding.

Workplace hazards

At Liberty Steel’s workplace, hazards can be grouped into three main classes. These include physical hazards, mechanical hazards, and psychological and social hazards. A great percentage of injuries in organization factories are mucoskeletal injuries caused by cumulative trauma on certain parts of the body.

These injuries are referred to as cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs). Examples of these injuries include back injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome. Risk factors to these disorders include exposure to vibrations, high forces, strong and repetitive motions, poor posture, and excessive heat (Hopwood and Thompson 62). At Liberty Steel, poor posture, improper tool handling, manual handling of raw materials, and lack of enough rest cause CTDs.

How to make the workplace safer

Establishment of an ergonomic process is an effective way to improving safety and health of workers at the workplace in the organization. The process is intended to improve safety by addressing workplace hazards that compromise health of workers.

The process involves identification of hazards at the workplace, case documentation, and introduction of healthcare management to reduce the risks associated with the hazards (Hopwood and Thompson 64). To improve safety and health at the workplace, it is necessary to develop a program that encourages continuous assessment and improvement of the workplace safety. Such programs reduce injuries and make the workplace less stressful.

The management of the organization should support workers in their efforts to create a safer workplace. Several elements must be present in order to show the commitment of the organization. Policy statements must value the ergonomic process and consider it a way of making the workplace safer and healthier (Hopwood and Thompson 66). Ergonomic efforts must be prioritized and grouped among cost reduction activities.

Secondly, the management should set goals that target high-risk operations. Thirdly, the work force should be trained and made aware of risk factors that might cause CTDs. This should include instructions on how to handle hazardous tasks. Managers should implement policies that improve ergonomics. In addition, they should evaluate the progress of the ergonomic process and seek help from experts on ways to reduce injuries at the workplace (Hopwood and Thompson 67).

Employee involvement

Involving workers in the ergonomic process is an important step in ensuring the success of the process. It has several benefits that make the workplace safer and less stressful for workers. Benefits include better problem-solving methods, better embracement of change, job satisfaction, employee motivation, and greater knowledge on the requirements of certain risky tasks (Hopwood and Thompson 69).

Development of a task force

To implement an ergonomic process, it is necessary to develop a task force that will oversee the implementation of the process in different units in the organization. A task force will synchronize efforts of individual units. Such a task force should include safety personnel, ergonomics experts, health care providers, and human resource personnel (Reese 72). Each member of the task force should be assigned a specific role and includes monitoring progress and documentation of ergonomic factors that should be addressed.

Worker training

Training is an important aspect of any program meant to improve safety and health of workers in the workplace. Workers should be trained to identify risk factors that might cause injuries or illnesses, identify signs of injuries or illnesses, and to reduce exposure to risk during operations (Reese 77). Workers should be trained on the different ways of identifying workplace risk factors and hazards, and ways to control them. Some injuries occur without the knowledge of workers.

Therefore, workers should be trained to identify signs of injuries or illnesses that may be caused by exposure to workplace risk factors. This requires workers to converse with the organization’s healthcare procedures and precautionary measures (Reese 78). Training should also teach workers how to prevent injuries and minimize exposure to risk factors. In addition, the training should help them understand how to control risk factors and the consequences of neglecting their role in minimizing exposure to workplace hazards.

Many workplaces are unhealthy and unsafe because organizations have failed to make a switch to modern organizational structures. With current advancements in technology, workers are exposed to more health and safety risks than in earlier years when technology was rarely used. The organization under consideration uses many technological applications that are highly risky.

Therefore, the organization should upgrade skills of workers through offering training programs that impart knowledge on proper use of technology in improvement of safety and health at the workplace (Reese 79). Poor training is caused by allocation of little money to health and safety programs. Many organizations do not prioritize worker health and safety. The organization should focus more on training workers other then training managers who are rarely exposed to risky operations.

Best Practices at the workplace

The best method to make the workplace safer and less physically and psychologically stressful is to adhere to requirements of best practices at the workplace. Supervisors should consider the proficiency of different workers during the process of task assignment. Jobs should be assigned and designed in a manner that minimizes exposure to risk factors. To improve health and safety at the organization, several guidelines on how to handle tasks should be followed.

Handling materials

Material handling is one of the major health hazards at the workplace. Risk factors involved in material handling include lifting heavy weights, carrying heavy loads for short or long distances, static loading, pushing and pulling heavy loads, and body twisting (Reese 86).

Other risk factors include inappropriate bending and frequent lifting of heavy loads. To reduce exposure to injuries workers should use lifting aids to lift, turn, pull, or tilt heavy loads. These aids eradicate use of excessive force or risky turning and bending while handling heavy loads (Reese 87).

They ensure that workers handle loads with reduced trunk movements thus reducing the probability of succumbing to injuries. This reduces force exerted on the spinal cord. Lift assist devices could also be used to minimize exposure to injuries. These devices use mechanical force to lift loads and eliminate use of body force to handle materials. Examples of lift assist devices include cranes, hoists, and vacuum lifters.

Material transportation usually involves pushing, pulling, lifting, twisting, and carrying, which expose workers to injuries. These activities generate large forces on certain body parts thus exposing them to injuries. Use of transport devices could help reduce such risks.

Workers should use devices such as forklifts, tugs, conveyors, and carts (Reese 88). These devices eliminate need for manual handling of materials. Use of these devices reduces accidents, reduces risk factors, reduces the number of days workers spend in hospitals, and reduce costs of medical care due t injuries.

Another cause of injuries is poor posture during material handling. Using hands to wrap up materials exposes wrists and shoulders to risk of injury. Employees usually maintain these postures for long periods and thus increase exposure to risk factors. Workers should use stretch wrapping machines and avoid manual wrapping in order to improve their safety.

With the aid of these machines, the only tasks that worker do include activation and removal of finished products from the machine. Another cause of bad posture is use of hand tools. Prolonged use of hand tools causes CTDs such as tendinitis because of high force used, repetitive motions and bad postures, and contact with surfaces of tools (Reese 90). To improve safety, workers should use powered tools instead of hand tools. Powered hand tools possess ergonomic design features that reduce risks of injury.

When using powered hand tools, workers should reduce vibration, and use protective clothing such as shades, gloves, and masks (Reese 92). In addition, workers should use padding materials that are non-conductive, and avoid gripping tools strongly. It is advisable to grip tools with both hands to distribute force evenly, and align wrists with the forearm for good posture.

Design of the workstation

In the organization’s workplace, there are workstations where assembly and packaging of parts is done. Risk factors encountered in these workstations include lengthened standing on rigid surfaces, prolonged sitting on hard surfaces, and frequent bending and twisting (Hackman and Wageman 311). Standing on hard surfaces causes fatigue because it reduces flow of blood in the legs and back. On the other hand, prolonged sitting on hard surfaces exerts unnecessary force on the lower back and legs.

To improve safety and reduce stress, workers should use soft floor mats, well-designed chairs, and avoid excessive wrist flexion (Hackman and Wageman 312). Anti-fatigue mats should be used to reduce fatigue and improve blood flow in the legs. The mats reduce pressure exerted on legs because of contact with the hard surface. The soft material of the mats eases pressure and improves blood flow in the legs and back. In addition, the mat reduces possibility of sliding or tripping.

Workers should sit on chairs with ergonomic design features such as lumbar support, adjustability, padding, and arm rests. The chairs should be stable to avoid falling due to strong floor vibrations (Hackman and Wageman 313). Workers should also vary working positions between standing and sitting in order to ease pressure on legs and back, and improve blood flow in the body. It is important to reduce wrist flexion and bending by using clips to reach handle materials.

At the workplace, many hands-on activities involve risk factors for injuries. These activities are risky because they involve use of great forces that exert pressure on wrists, elbow, back, and shoulders.

Awkward postures and high forces on flexible body parts increase likelihood of succumbing to injuries (Hackman and Wageman 316). An example of such an activity is the manual removal of a welding flash from the machine on which it is attached. This activity increases probability of succumbing to injury. Workers should use machines and avoid manual execution of such activities.

Machines eliminate the use of great force. Workers only role is to operate and monitor the machines. Examples of machines that could be helpful to workers by improving their safety include packaging and sealing machines, and palletizers. Semi automation can also be applied for jobs that require active involvement of workers. However, machines execute the risky part of the tasks. For example, workers could use semi-automated machines such as presses and grinders.

Allocation of tasks

In the organization, there are many activities performed by both humans and machines. However, with current advancements in technology, many activities performed by humans have been taken over by machines. Machines are beneficial because they reduce risks associated with manual labor, require little human participation, and allow algorithmic input (Hackman and Wageman 318).

Example of activities include sorting, packaging, lifting, pulling and pushing loads, packaging, routine inspection, palletizing, and assembly of parts. To improve safety and health of workers at the workplace, machines should execute tasks that require use of excess force or that involve frequent flexion of certain body parts. These activities include material handling, high volume production, and hazardous tasks.

Certain operations emit toxic gases that expose workers to illnesses such as cancer. To improve safety and health of workers, machines should carry out these activities. Workers should carry out activities that pose fewer risks such as operation and monitoring of machines, information gathering, machine maintenance, and activities that require use of cognitive skills (Hackman and Wageman 320).

In addition, the management of the organization should develop a database that will contain all operations that need to be executed, and guidelines on how to safely execute them. Machines should be used to carry out tasks that might compromise the health and safety of workers. In cases where machines cannot perform certain tasks because of special requirements, the safety of workers should be put into consideration and prioritized.

This should involve an in-depth analysis of risks involved in the tasks in order to determine the probability of workers succumbing to injuries (Hackman and Wageman 323). After analysis, measures should be put in place to reduce exposure of the workers to risk factors that might affect their health and compromise their safety.

Design of the workplace

The design of a workplace is an important aspect in improving the safety and health of employees in an organization. The designs adopted for equipment, control rooms, and workstations determine the degree of health and safety. Organizations should adhere to ergonomic principles when designing the workplace in order to make it safer and less stressing.

Poor design of the workplace leads to ill health and injuries. To improve the safety of the workplace, the management should follow all guidelines in order to design a favorable workplace. The designs used for equipment and control rooms should follow recommended ergonomic standards. Users should be involved in the design process in order to ensure that they use equipment in ways that reduce exposure to injuries (Goetsch 82).

The work environment

Important factors to consider when creating a safe work environment include lighting, noise, workspaces, vibrations, and temperature (Goetsch 84). These factors affect the health of workers in different ways. Different sections of the workplace require different levels of lighting and temperature.

High and very low temperatures cause psychological stress, and as such affect the health of workers. On the other hand, noise and vibrations affect the hearing abilities of workers. The organization should follow certain principles concerning noise management to improve the safety and health of the work environment.

Light levels should be controlled in different workstations at the workplace. Every workstation should have a control engineer to control level of light as required. Very bright or dim light increase stress because workers strain to see or read. Light sources should have specific colors that suit the environment of the workplace (Goetsch 84).

In addition, changes in light levels should be executed gradually in order to help workers adapt to the changes without compromising their productivity. The management should ensure that there is adequate working space to move about and work efficiently.

It is important to create enough working space that facilitates movements and storage of equipment. Vibrations are another cause of stress at the workplace. Strong vibrations cause fatigue and back pain. Moreover, high frequency vibrations have been shown to cause visual impairments and psychological stress. The management of the organization should ensure that they put measures in place to reduce vibrations and loud noises such as wall and floor padding.

How to make the workplace less stressful

The main causes of stress at the workplace include inadequate social support, high job demands, inadequate and inappropriate job control, ambiguous and conflicting tasks, and rigid work schedules (Goetsch 98). In order to make the workplace less stressful, it is important to develop a strategy that manages the causes of stress. This would involve the use of an appropriate and effective organizational approach.

The management should define requirements of each job or task in order to avoid ambiguity and inconsistency. For example, workers who have expertise in production procedures should only handle tasks that are associated with production. The same criteria should also apply during assignment of tasks. Workers should be assigned tasks based on their expertise and skills (Goetsch 102). This will ensure that workers achieve desired outcomes and as such increase their productivity.

Stress is caused by poor outcome and results. The work schedule should be flexible and should give workers time for relaxation. Most workers have families and it is important to allow them time off to be with their families. It is important for workers to get time for relaxation. New workers are usually under pressure to perform and prove to the management that they are capable of achieving the goals of the organization.

Great expectations from the management exert great pressure on them and are a major cause of stress. The management and other workers should offer social support to new employees (Reese 73). Social support is important because it makes all workers feel like they are part of a team that works together to achieve organizational goals. Another strategy to reduce stress at the workplace is to practice good job control. Many managers are over-controlling and give commands to workers.

It is important for managers and supervisors to learn how to lead and guide workers without causing them stress. As such, they should involve workers in the decision making process, give them freedom to make decisions in their fields of work, and conduct open discussions as a way of solving conflicts and misunderstandings at the workplace (Reese 75). Giving commands creates an atmosphere of fear and a negative organizational culture. High job demand is another stress factor at the workplace.

Managers should define very job and ensure that they assign demanding jobs to qualified workers. Many workers become stressed because managers assign them jobs that are beyond their knowledge scope. As a result, they fail to achieve the desired outcome. This demoralizes them and creates a feeling of underachievement. Jobs that are very demanding should be assigned to workers who possess more skills and knowledge than others do. That way the tasks are completed effectively and the desired results are achieved.

Conclusion

Occupational health and safety (OHS) is an area of study that focuses on safety, welfare, and health of people in a work environment. Organizations should ensure that workers are safe from workplace hazards that might affect their health. OHS minimizes costs related to injuries, illnesses, legal cases, and medical care.

Hospitals are workplaces that have many health hazards that affect both workers and patients. It is important for the management of organizations to put precautionary measures in place to protect both patients and workers from the lethal effects of health hazards. at Liberty Steel products, many things could be done to make the workplace safer and less physically and psychologically stressful.

These include worker training, employee involvement, development of a task force to implement the ergonomic process, adherence to best practice procedures, and offering social support to workers. Workers should be trained on ways to identify and manage risk factors at the workplace. Safety measures that could make the workplace safer include automation, development of training programs for workers, and development of an ergonomic process.

To make the workplace less psychologically stressful, the management should offer social support to workers, ensure that the work schedule is flexible, practice good job control, and assign tasks to workers based on their levels of competence. On the other hand, the design of equipment and the workplace should focus on making the workplace safer. Equipment should be designed in a way that reduces exposure of workers to health hazards.

Works Cited

Chambers, Gary. Concise Guide to Workplace Safety and Health: What You Need to Know, When You Need It. New York: CRC Press, 2002. Print.

Goetsch, David. Occupational Safety and Health: for Technologists, Engineers, and Managers. New York: Prentice Hall PTR, 2002. Print.

Hackman, Jared, and Wageman Robert. Total Quality Management: Empirical, Conceptual and Practical Issues, Administrative Science Quarterly, 40 (2005): 309-342. Print.

Hopwood, Dan, and Thompson Steve. Workplace Safety: A Guide for Small and Midsized Companies. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2006. Print.

Reese, Charles. Accident/Incident Prevention Techniques. New York: CRC Press, 2011. Print.

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