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Hazards, risks, and injuries
One of the most important responsibilities of an employer is to provide his or her employees with a safe and healthy workplace. Occupational health and safety involve a workplace that is free of any hazards, risks, or injuries. A Hazard refers to an unknown and unpredictable phenomenon within the workplace that is a source of danger and can cause an event to result in one way or another (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 121). Hazards classify as biological, chemical, or physical. Risks refer to the possibility of harm or infection occurring given that exposure to an infectious agent or a source of danger has occurred. Risks within the workplace involve possibilities of one incurring a misfortune.
Injuries refer to any physical damage to the body caused by violence or accidents within the workplace (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 123). The three elements have a close relationship because they influence each other. Hazards expose people to risks within the workplace. The more someone has greater exposure to risk, the higher the chances of getting injuries. A hazard can cause harm while a risk is the chance of harm occurring. Injury is the extent of harm.
Unsafe conditions and unsafe acts
Unsafe conditions and unsafe acts are very important concepts in understanding occupational health and safety. Injuries and accidents are very common within the workplace, and these two elements are some of the causes. An unsafe act refers to human action, activity, or execution of a task in a manner, which poses a threat to the health, and/or safety of an individual within a workplace (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 364).
Unsafe acts involve human factors, thus they are not easy to identify and respond to within the workplace. Any person within the workplace can make an unsafe act. Examples of unsafe acts within the workplace include insubordination, operating machines without the necessary expertise, removing workplace safety instructions and devices, failure to wear protective clothing, failure to provide warning, and being in dangerous positions among others (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 366).
On the other hand, an unsafe condition refers to a situation within a workplace that has the potential to cause injury to people or property. Unsafe conditions expose one to various risks, thus hard to avoid them. Most workplaces are typically unsafe places for people to be, because of their numerous hazards that make occupants vulnerable to harm. Examples of unsafe conditions within the workplace include poor housekeeping, congestion, lack of protective clothing, inadequate or lack of warning signs, poor ventilation, and defective tools among others (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 369).
The steps of accident investigation
One of the nightmares that most people dread within the workplace is an accident. Workplace accidents are common, despite the employment laws providing strict guidelines to employers in order to ensure that all workers are safe. Therefore, it is important for employers to have a reliable and effective plan for dealing with such cases whenever they arise in the workplace. Occupational health and safety experts, advise all employers to have an accident plan that provides the essential steps of investigating an accident (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 144). There are four crucial steps taken when conducting an investigation of an internal accident.
The first step is an examination of the accident scene to determine what happened. This step should give a report on the tools involved in the accident, the condition of their user manuals, their maintenance condition, and availability of warning signs. The information gathered applies in determining the cause of the accident (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 145). The services of a professional investigator can be sourced if the cause of the accident is not easily identifiable.
The second step is establishing the visible facts of the accident scene. This happens by taking photographs and measurements of the whole scene. Forensic experts use the photographs and measurements to develop drawings that show the relation between the different elements collected from the accident scene. This step is all about the visual evidence, and its impact on understanding the cause of the accident (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 147).
The third step involves speaking to the witnesses of the accident. In conducting an internal accident investigation, it is necessary to speak to people who witness the accident, as well as people who might have any form of lead information about the same. The best people to interview for any lead information are people with similar job descriptions as those involved in the accident, supervisors, and employees trained to give first aid (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 150).
It is also important to talk to colleagues that the affected people associate closely with within the workplace. One important rule that investigators need to follow, is to ensure that all people who give written responses sign against them for the sake of reference and avoiding biased reactions. The fourth step involves reviewing all the collected data, as well as the work records of the employees involved in the accident.
This should give a clearer picture of the cause of the accident, and steps to prevent a similar mistake from happening at another given time. This step seeks to answer a number of questions for investigators regarding the accident (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 154). These questions focus on the intention of those injured, their qualifications for performing the task, work experience of those involved, choice of tools used, the availability of supervision, and any potential hazards on the scene of the accident.
The internal responsibility system and duties
One of the workplace characteristics is the availability of different types of jobs, whose duties and responsibilities vary. Everyone within the workplace has an ethical responsibility to ensure that duties are performed within the required standards. People also need to be accountable for their actions and take full responsibility whenever required to do so (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 428). Importantly, all these duties and responsibilities ought to apply in a safe and healthy workplace that is free of any kind of hazards. The combination of all these workplace elements creates an internal responsibility system.
The internal responsibility system integrates into an organization’s corporate culture, and it helps to allow all people within a workplace to contribute towards the attainment of occupational health and safety. This workplace strategy applies the format of a chart, where each employee is assigned a health and safety goal to promote and achieve within the workplace (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 430). Each employee holds full responsibility for his or her assigned element and is accountable to the rest of the employees.
The internal responsibility system applies a bottom to top responsibility approach. This means that everyone is answerable to the person above them. The basic structure of this system has the director at the top of the hierarchy, followed by the president, vice president, manager, supervisor, and worker respectively. Although these ranks have different levels of responsibility, people can interact freely with those above or below them for the sake of solving health and safety challenges within the workplace (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 436).
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The duty of the internal responsibility system is to solve the dilemma of who ought to ensure the health and safety of employees within the workplace. Organizations that apply this strategy in their workplaces often experience safe and more secure environments characterized by low-risk levels. Some organizations are likely to record increased productivity and high employee morale to work. The reason for this is that the internal responsibility system helps to develop employee elements such as their ingenuity, acquaintance levels, management qualities, and better work experience (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 439).
The types of accidents at the workplace
The first accident type is working at risky speeds that are either too fast or too slow. The speed at which one does his or her work can compromise their safety because they can easily forget to observe safety rules. A good example is loading a truck with goods within a short time (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 66). This accident is avoidable by considering the age and physical condition of all employees. The second type is insubordination accidents.
It is important for workers to stick to jobs they are qualified to do. A good example is an accountant doing the work of a systems manager. The third type is poor storage accidents. When equipment and tools are stored poorly within the workplace, they are likely to cause accidents (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 69). Employers need to train their workers in good housekeeping skills in order to avoid accidents (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 72).
The fourth type is complacency accidents. Certain employees feel comfortable with their achievements and think they can try out new things. Employees need to avoid taking chances through shortcuts but instead stick to the safety regulation for their work. The fifth type is taking on risky body positions that expose employees to danger. For example, maintaining an erect upright position on top of chairs and tables is very dangerous (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 77). Employees need to learn better methods of executing their duties.
Bohle, Philip, Lamm Felicity & Quinlan Michael. Managing Occupational Health and Safety: A Multidisciplinary Approach. New York: Macmillan Education, 2010. Print.