Occupational Health is the promotion and maintenance of physical and mental wellbeing of all staff. Health problems directly related to a person’s job are defined as an occupational illness.
Some hazards, such as skin contact with chemicals causing short-term irritation and/or rashes are known as acute illnesses. For more information try our fully online Chemical Safety course. Chronic illnesses develop gradually and their effects may be irreversible, e.g. loss of hearing. Some may even appear years after the time of employment, e.g. asbestosis. For more information try our fully online Asbestos Awareness course.
As well as specific health hazards there are some general things that may affect all workplaces:
Smoking and passive smoking have been linked to lung cancer, irritation to the respiratory system and other harmful effects. The Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Act 2004 (No. 6 of 2004) placed a ban on smoking at all enclosed places of work from 29/03/04 to protect persons at work from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. This includes office blocks, aircraft, trains, company vehicles, health premises, schools, colleges, cinemas, theatres, licensed premises and clubs, if any of these places is your place of work. The smoking ban also applies to common areas within buildings. This means, for example, that corridors, lobby areas and reception areas of buildings such as apartment blocks and hotels are also covered. For more information, please consult Citizens Information service. In addition, try our fully online Workplace Safety course.
Alcohol increases the time it takes to react to situations, affects behaviour and reduces performance. For more information try our fully online Behavioral Safety course.
Substance abuse may cause health problems and can cause safety hazards in the workplace. Many drugs are particularly dangerous because they cause mood changes and alter people’s perceptions. Even prescribed drugs may have a detrimental effect. As with alcohol, the condition must be addressed. For more information try our fully online Behavioral Safety course.
Verbal abuse, threats, bullying or assault can cause stress and concern as well as physical injury. Staff should be encouraged to report all occurrences to their supervisors who should record and objectively investigate the details and if necessary report to the relevant authority. For more information try our fully online Bullying Awareness course.
A large percentage of sick leave is due to stress, either due to personal reasons or the physical or emotional pressure of the job. Stomach and skin conditions, heart disease and depression have been linked to stress. Factors influencing stress in the workplace include poor working conditions, overwork, job insecurity, peer pressure including harassment, unrealistic targets and poor management.
Employees should be encouraged to report stress and management should be trained to recognise the symptoms and causes of stress such as inability or reduced ability to cope with normal tasks and situations, increased sick leave and/or poor time-keeping. For more information try our fully online Workplace Stress Awareness course.
It is very important to have an effective occupational health management system in place. There are sound economic reasons for reducing work-related accidents and ill-health, as well as ethical and regulatory reasons. Businesses that manage safety and health successfully invariably have a positive safety culture. 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.
Myelearnsafety offers fully online Health and Safety courses.
To find out more, please check our Courses page.
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Employers have a duty of care to protect their employees both mentally and physically in the workplace. This is a workplace and human relations issue and needs to be treated very seriously. It has been identified as dangerous and can lead to health and safety problems.
Bullying in the workplace can be described differently in various forms. The Health and Safety Authority describes it the following:”repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others, at the place of work and/or in the course of employment, which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual‘s right to dignity at work.”
Employers need to be vigilant and know that individuals who are accused of bullying have employment rights too. They have to follow the correct procedure.
Where a bullying culture has been identified, (through a number of complaints being received, for instance) employers must take reasonable measures to prevent incidents of bullying occurring (through awareness raising and training as well as reacting speedily to resolve issues early/progress investigations and/or initiate control measures). When and if they bullying occurs, employers should prevent the risk of injury to the health of employees worsening by providing and implementing support and assistance throughout the process, and reviewing and monitoring the environment afterwards, as far as is reasonable..
Managers and supervisors have a particular responsibility to promote dignity in the workplace for all. They should be alert to the possibility of bullying behaviour and be familiar with the policies and procedures for dealing with allegations of bullying. Their behaviour may be modelled by others, as it may be considered acceptable. That’s why managers, supervisors and those in authority should be aware of their own behaviour at work and not engage in improper conduct in any form.
If you are being bullied in the work or want to talk to a someone confidentially, contact us and we can give you help and support advice.