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Reasons for Promoting Workplace Safety

Reasons for Promoting Workplace Safety

Reasons for promoting workplace safety are numerous. Poor workplace safety can have serious business costs, human costs and legal costs. In addition, the need to protect people from injury and disease while they are at work has a strong moral reasoning. Every year, accidents at work cost the Irish industry millions of euros. The effects of the injuries sustained vary from needing an extended period of time off work, never being able to work again, to sometimes unfortunately, injuries being fatal.

 

Four Main Reasons for Promoting Workplace Safety

There are many reasons why accident prevention in the workplace is worthwhile. For the purpose of this text we will discuss four:

  1. The cost of human suffering. The physical and mental pain, and hardship in general resulting from death and disability is impossible to quantify. The disruption to lives of workers and their families it causes is far reaching with lasting consequences.
  2. Moral reasons. Societal development raised public awareness about quality of life at work and its importance. Workers safety, once seen as unimportant or marginally important business activity is now expected by the society in general. The business is viewed by the public through its treatment of its employees. This might directly influence employee attraction and retention rates and business profitability or lack of one.
  3. Legal reasons. The statute law details steps to be taken and objectives to be met in terms of workplace health and safety. Compliance is not optional – it is mandatory. Non compliance might result in serious legal prosecutions, or other enforcement actions. In addition, the civil law enables injured workers and others to gain compensation either as a result of breach of statutory duties or because a reasonable standard of care was not provided under the particular circumstances.
  4. Financial reasons. To ensure the continuing financial health of a business and to avoid the costs associated with accidents, implementation of accident prevention is a must.

 

Health and Safety Legislation

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is the statutory body in Ireland responsible for the enforcement of occupational health and safety law. The HSA reports directly to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Health and Safety legislation in Ireland is designed to secure and improve the Safety, Health and Welfare of people at work. Specifically, this is done by advocating a risk assessment approach to managing workplace safety. For additional information about risk assessments, please see eLearn Safety blog entry from 12th January 2024 titled Workplace Risk Assessment.

The main health and safety regulations in Ireland are the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and Safety, Health and welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007. The Act 2005 applies to employers, employees and the self-employed. Indeed, this is done in the interest of securing a preventive approach to occupational health and safety. In addition, the GA Regulations 2007 outline the specific workplace safety matters.

 

Achieving Workplace Safety

There are many obstacles to the achievement of safe working conditions. Specifically, most common obstacles are the pressure of production or performance targets, financial constraints and the complexity of the organisations. Unfortunately, these obstacles are sometimes blatant disregard of basic health and safety regulations and poor health and safety management practices.

In difficult economic times, organisations need to reduce their costs. This often impacts on the management of health and safety. For example, training of workers in safe systems of work or plant equipment maintenance could be neglected. One way to keep staff informed about workplace safety is eLearn Safety fully online Workplace Safety – Level 1 course. This course is ideal for every employee in any workplace that’s subject to Health and Safety Legislation. In other words, safety in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility. In particular, it provides all employees who participate on this course with information on how to identify hazards and carry out simple risk assessments.

 

Online Health and Safety Training

Proactive Health and Safety training is critical to ensure a safe workplace. An effective training program can reduce the number of worker injuries and deaths. It can also reduce instances of property damage, legal liability, illnesses, and missed time from work.

Health and Safety training helps establish a culture in which employees themselves help promote proper safety procedures while on the job. It is important that new employees be properly trained and embrace the importance of workplace safety. The role of training in developing and maintaining effective hazard control activities is a proven and successful method of intervention.

This is why we have established Myelearnsafety school. We pride ourselves in how we guide, support and mentor our students. They receive support throughout their learning experience and into their working lives. Our staff have extensive training experience and also have many years industry experience. We understand the challenges that exist within Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety. Our priority is to ensure that all learners are fully prepared to differentiate themselves in the workplace after completing our Health and Safety courses.

Myelearnsafety offers fully online Health and Safety courses.

To find out more, please check our Courses page.

Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email info@elearn.ie

eLearn Online Health and Safety Training

eLearn Online Health and Safety Training

Ergonomics in the Workplace

Ergonomics is the study of working interactions between humans and machines/workstations and the factors that affect those interactions. Stemming from the Greek words ‘ergo’ & ‘nomus’ (workflow) it is in simple terms ‘fitting’ the job to the person as opposed to fitting the person to the job.

 

Origins of the Ergonomics

Ergonomic practitioners draw upon a number of different disciplines. Some of these are ‘biomechanics’ (the study of human movement and the associated laws) and ‘anthropometry’ (the study of human measurements). These disciplines assist ergonomic practitioners in identifying ergonomic risk factors.

 

Importance of Ergonomics in the Workplace

Failure to apply the principles of ergonomics within the workplace i.e., a busy office environment or warehouse can result in chronic or acute musculoskeletal injuries. If left unchecked can result in functional limitations. Employees working in such environments are also susceptible to RSI ‘repetitive strain injuries’ and WRULD ‘work related upper limb disorders’.

When designing workstations ergonomic considerations are of significant importance. An ergonomic risk assessment can help to identify issues with existing workstations. However prior to conducting a risk assessment a task analysis should be conducted. A task analysis is conducted in order to get an appreciation of an employee’s daily routine. A task analysis will highlight current or potential issues for the employee, time spent at the work station, breaks, and shift work. All these should all be taken into consideration. In addition, biomechanics and anthropometrics will also play a part at this point.

 

Ergonomic Tools

Ergonomic practitioners can utilize a number of tools in order to assist them in rating the risks accordingly:

In addition, eLearn  Safety offers a full online VDU/DSE course. This course is fully online and can be taken 24/7. On completion of this VDU training course, participants will be provided with the information necessary to ensure current legislation is complied, risk assessments are carried out and all employees are competent to adjust their work stations to provide a safe place to work in.

Furthermore, a task analysis will help to identify if an employer is compliant with current legislation under the SHWW Act 2005. An office employees’ display screen is in essence a visual display unit. Therefore an employer must adhere to the guidance document within the general application regulations pertaining to VDU’s and display screen equipment.

 

Ergonomics in the Workplace Recommendations

Where office workers should be afforded the option to conduct his/her work both in the seated and standing position, employers must ensure chairs and VDU’s have the ability to be adjusted to suit all employees and consider frequent breaks and job rotation where practicable. Employers should also promote good working practices. For example, encouraging staff to make recommendations based on their working environments. If working in a warehouse or on a manufacturing line, workers should use appropriate equipment. A proper equipment will aid them in their jobs. Some of the examples are foot stools, foot rests, anti-glare eye protection, etc.

Employers should always be cognizant of the fact that ‘one shoe does not fit all’ when it comes to ergonomic assessments. For example a tall employee may feel cramped in a small area whereas a short employee may be uncomfortable if constantly reaching for items or if their feet are not supported when sitting.

Thus, structuring the working environment in order to suit the user is a step away from Taylors’ method of ‘scientific management’. Such a method, regardless of body shape and size or indeed the work being undertaken, was standardized across the board and the worker had to adapt him/herself to the factory conditions or face the prospect of dismissal and future injuries as a result.

 

Ergonomics Assessments

Ergonomic assessments are not difficult to undertake, and when carried out effectively can help to reduce the risk of ergonomic injuries and pain. In turn, this will help to motivate employees, allowing them to be more productive and happier in the working environment. Employers should always be aware of their responsibilities to their employees under the SHAWW Act and take the necessary steps to create risk free working environments where possible. Employees must also be aware of their rights and support any safety initiatives the employer wishes to implement, as the saying goes, ‘the rising tide floats every boat’.

 

Online Health and Safety Training

Proactive Health and Safety training is critical to ensure a safe workplace. An effective training program can reduce the number of worker injuries and deaths. It can also reduce instances of property damage, legal liability, illnesses, and missed time from work.

Health and Safety training helps establish a culture in which employees themselves help promote proper safety procedures while on the job. It is important that new employees be properly trained and embrace the importance of workplace safety. The role of training in developing and maintaining effective hazard control activities is a proven and successful method of intervention.

This is why we have established Myelearsafety school. We pride ourselves in how we guide, support and mentor our students. They receive support throughout their learning experience and into their working lives. Our staff have extensive training experience and also have many years industry experience. We understand the challenges that exist within Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety. Our priority is to ensure that all learners are fully prepared to differentiate themselves in the workplace after completing our Health and Safety courses.

Myelearnsafety offers fully online Health and Safety courses.

To find out more, please check our Courses page.

Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email info@elearn.ie

Working in Confined Spaces

Working in confined spaces is a high risk working environment.

 

What does it mean Working in Confined Space

Any significantly enclosed space where there is a risk of death or serious injury from hazardous substances, lack of oxygen or other dangerous conditions is classed as a confined space. Confined spaces with small openings such as silos, drains, sewers and storage tanks are fairly obvious. Others are not. Ductwork, vats, open-topped chambers may be less obvious.

 

Before Working in Confined Space Commence

Before working in confined space commences, certain steps should be taken. All hazards present must be identified and the risks assessed. This information should then be used to determine what precautions are needed and safety procedures developed (including emergency rescue).

 

Confined Space Entry

If working in confined spaces can be avoided – it should be avoided.

According to the Health and Safety Authority of Ireland and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Confined Spaces) Regulations 2001, Regulation 5 states that:

A person shall not carry out work in Confined Spaces if it is reasonably practicable that it could be avoided.

If the work must be carried out Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment must be carried out prior to the work commencing.

A person shall not enter a confined space unless there is a system of work in place that has been planned, organised, performed and maintained so as to render that work safe and without risk to health.

Anyone entering a confined space must be provided with appropriate information, training and instruction appropriate to the particular characteristics of the proposed work activities.

 

Questions to Ask

Before working in confined space commence, the following should be considered:

If someone is working in a confined space, think about the following:

Always:

Never:

 

Useful Resources

The Health and Safety Authority of Ireland (HSA) has a very useful info page titled Working in Confined Spaces. This page covers some of the most frequently asked questions about working in confined spaces.

In addition, the UK’s Health and Safety Executive info page titled Introduction to working in confined spaces can provide additional very useful information about working in confined spaces.

 

Tragic Example

As The Irish Times reported; on June 10th, 2015 brothers Alan (45) and Stephen Harris (32) were overcome by fumes while working in an underground sewer at Drumnigh Woods, Portmarnock, Co Dublin. They were taken from the sewer and taken to hospital but unfortunately died of hypoxia due to toxic levels of hydrogen sulphide.

The brothers were wearing wader boots and rain jackets and Stephen Harris was wearing a dust mask.

A toxic gas incident that claimed the lives of two brothers almost killed a fireman attempting to rescue them.

How It Could Have Been Avoided

Health and Safety Authority inspector Frank Kerins said the job required specialist equipment in accordance with confined space regulations, including a gas detector and breathing apparatus.

 

Online Health and Safety Training

Proactive Health and Safety training is critical to ensure a safe workplace. An effective training program can reduce the number of worker injuries and deaths. It can also reduce instances of property damage, legal liability, illnesses, and missed time from work.

Health and Safety training helps establish a culture in which employees themselves help promote proper safety procedures while on the job. It is important that new employees be properly trained and embrace the importance of workplace safety. The role of training in developing and maintaining effective hazard control activities is a proven and successful method of intervention.

This is why we have established Myelearsafety school. We pride ourselves in how we guide, support and mentor our students. They receive support throughout their learning experience and into their working lives. Our staff have extensive training experience and also have many years industry experience. We understand the challenges that exist within Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety. Our priority is to ensure that all learners are fully prepared to differentiate themselves in the workplace after completing our Health and Safety courses.

Myelearnsafety offers fully online Health and Safety courses.

To find out more, please check our Courses page.

Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email info@elearn.ie

Health and Safety in the Workplace

Effective Health and Safety management in the workplace is an important element of every organisation. Every year, accidents at work cost the Irish industry billions of euros. The effects of the injuries sustained vary from minor to major injuries. In some cases, employees will be needing an extended period of time off work. In other cases they will never be able to work again. Unfortunately, in some cases they will receive injuries that would be fatal. The fact is, many of these accidents are avoidable and should have not happened.

Much of Health and Safety relies on ensuring that the appropriate risk precautions are in place. Additional information about workplace hazards are available in our blog entry from 21 April 2023 Workplace Accidents and Their Prevention. If individuals are aware of potential hazards and adopt safe working practices, they can control the risks and reduce the number of accidents and injuries.

 

Workplace Fatalities from 2017 to 2022

The work-related injuries include any injuries incurred by workers in the course of their work. These injuries can range from minor injuries to the most serious injuries that resulted in death. According to the Health and Safety Authority of Ireland and the Health and Safety Statistics they publish, the following is workplace fatalities statistics for years 2017 – 2022:

There have been 230 fatalities in Ireland since 2017.

Health and Safety in the workplace is an important aspect of any organisation. All work related fatalities are preventable through vigilance and effective Health and Safety management. All employees and persons affected by business activities deserve to go home after their work day has ended.

 

Common Causes of Accidents in the Workplace

Whilst not all workplace accidents result in death, the majority of them will result in an injury. Common causes of accident in the workplace are often:

Work related activities can also be responsible for diseases and ill health. These, in some cases, can have long term, irreversible effects. For example:

These hazards can be controlled by assessing risks and putting in effective controls. Effective health and Safety practices will not only minimise the pain and personal consequences to individual employees, but also reduce the financial impact on employers and services funded by the taxpayer.

 

Business and Human Costs of Ineffective Health and Safety in the Workplace

The costs on the business for ineffective Health and Safety in the Workplace can be significant:

These, however, can fade into insignificance when weighed against the human cost:

Safe working conditions are a prerequisite for a healthy and productive workforce.

 

Ineffective Health and Safety in the Workplace – From the Press

The Health and Safety Authority reported on 26th June 2023 that the company was fined €750,000 after fatal fall from height in workplace. The fatal incident occurred when a worker stepped onto a fragile surface. The fragile surface that sealed a vertical service duct which gave way and the worker fell from a height.

Mark Cullen, Assistant Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority, commented, “Where there is a known risk in a workplace, in this case working from height, employers in control of that workplace have a duty to ensure that the appropriate precautions are in place. This will protect employees and others who may be carrying out work activity at the place of work under their control. Failure by the employer in this case has led to the tragic death of a worker. We urge employers to carry out risk assessments and engage with their employees and others to ensure that incidents like this one are prevented.

 

Online Health and Safety Training

Proactive Health and Safety training is critical to ensure a safe workplace. An effective training program can reduce the number of worker injuries and deaths. It can also reduce instances of property damage, legal liability, illnesses, and missed time from work.

Health and Safety training helps establish a culture in which employees themselves help promote proper safety procedures while on the job. It is important that new employees be properly trained and embrace the importance of workplace safety. The role of training in developing and maintaining effective hazard control activities is a proven and successful method of intervention.

This is why we have established Myelearsafety school. We pride ourselves in how we guide, support and mentor our students. They receive support throughout their learning experience and into their working lives. Our staff have extensive training experience and also have many years industry experience. We understand the challenges that exist within Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety. Our priority is to ensure that all learners are fully prepared to differentiate themselves in the workplace after completing our Health and Safety courses.

Myelearnsafety offers fully online Health and Safety courses.

To find out more, please check our Courses page.

Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email info@elearn.ie