What is Occupational Health and Safety?
Occupational safety and health(OSH) also commonly referred to as occupational health and safety (OHS) or workplace health and safety (WHS) is an area concerned with the safety, health and welfare of people engaged in work or employment.
In its broadest sense, it should:-
- Promote and maintain the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations;
- Prevent among workers the adverse effects on heath caused by working conditions;
- Protect workers in their employment from risks factors which are adverse to health
- The adaptation of work to humans
Occupational health issues receive less attention than occupational safety issues, as the former poses more challenges. None the less, when health issues are addressed, so are the safety issues. A healthy workplace is by definition also a safe workplace. The converse, though, may not be true as a safe workplace is not necessarily a healthy workplace. The important point is that issues of both health and safety must be addressed in every workplace. By and large, the definition of occupational health and safety given above encompasses both health and safety in the broadest context.
Why is Occupational Health and Safety important?
Work plays a central role in people’s lives, since most workers spend at least eight hours a day in the workplace, whether it is on a plantation, in an office or a factory. Therefore, the work environment should be safe and healthy. Yet this is not the case for many workers. Every day workers all over the world are faced with a multitude of health hazards which, among others include exposure to the following:-
- Extreme temperature levels
Unfortunately some employers assume little responsibility for the protection of workers’ health and safety. In fact, some employers do not even know that they have the moral and in some cases the often legal responsibility to protect workers. As a result of the hazards and a lack of attention given to health and safety, work-related accidents and diseases are common in all parts of the world.
The 1999 Labour Code provides for the inspection of workplaces by Labour Officers.