The scope and nature of occupational health and safety


Occupational health and safety is relevant to all branches of industry, business and commerce including traditional industries, information technology companies, the National Health Service, care homes, schools, universities, leisure facilities and offices. The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the foundations on which appropriate health and safety management systems may be built.

Occupational health and safety affects all aspects of work. In a low hazard organization, health and safety may be supervised by a single competent manager. In a high hazard manufacturing plant, many different specialists, such as engineers (electrical, mechanical and civil), lawyers, medical doctors and nurses, trainers, work planners and supervisors may be required to assist the professional health and safety practitioner in ensuring that there are satisfactory health and safety standards within the organization.

There are many obstacles to the achievement of good standards. The pressure of production or performance targets, financial constraints and the complexity of the organization are typical examples of such obstacles. However, there are some powerful incentives for organizations to strive for high health and safety standards.

These incentives are moral, legal and economic. Corporate responsibility, a term used extensively in the 21st century world of work, covers a wide range of issues. It includes the effects that an organization’s business has on the environment, human rights and Third World poverty. Health and safety in the workplace is an important corporate responsibility issue.

Corporate responsibility has various definitions. However, broadly speaking, it covers the ways in which organizations manage their core business to add social, environmental and economic value in order to produce a positive, sustainable impact on both society and the business itself. Terms such as ‘corporate social responsibility’, ‘socially responsible business’ and ‘corporate citizenship’ all refer to this concept

This chapter covers the legal responsibilities that exist between people who control premises and those who use them, and between contractors and those who hire them; and the duties of suppliers, manufacturers and designers of articles and substances for use at work.

The chapter also describes the legal responsibilities that exist between duty holders under the Construction (Design and Management), Regulations (CDM) to ensure that health and safety is fully integrated into the management of any construction project and to encourage everyone involved with the project (the client, designer and principal contractor) to work together effectively. All information details movietube

Some basic definitions

Before a detailed discussion of health and safety issues can take place, some basic occupational health and safety definitions are required.

Health – The protection of the bodies and minds of people from illness resulting from the materials, processes or procedures used in the workplace.

Safety – The protection of people from physical injury.The borderline between health and safety is ill defined and the two words are normally used together to indicate concern for the physical and mental well-being of the individual at the place of work.

Welfare – The provision of facilities to maintain the health and well-being of individuals at the workplace. Welfare facilities include washing and sanitation arrangements, the provision of drinking water, heating, lighting, accommodation for clothing, seating (when required by the work activity or for rest), eating and rest rooms. First-aid arrangements are also considered as welfare facilities.

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