Employee Safety and Health
Employee safety refers to various provisions made by the organisation including formulating an appropriate policy for safety, well being and protection of its employee at work place. It also includes various measures adopted by the company to reduce the number of hazardous factors which are likely to cause accidents and threaten the health and welfare of its employees.
Employee health: It refers to a condition where in the employee are expected to be in a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or illness. Employees can be in a good state of health if provisions of clean drinking water, healthy food in canteen, cleanliness across the workplace, health conscious awareness among the employees, provision of doing exercise for the employees, strict policies against workplace harassment and proper grievance handling mechanism exist.
Physical health refers to the physical fitness and well being of employee. It also includes absence of disease.
Mental health is not mere absence of mental illness. A mentally healthy employee has three main characteristics which are as follows:
- The employee feels comfortable about himself. i.e feels reasonably secure and adequate.
- The employee feels right towards others i.e interested in others and love them.
- The employee is able to meet the demands of life, i.e able to think for himself and to take independent decisions.
Need for safety at workplace
- Safety is a basic need of any employee. It motivates to achieve higher order needs.
- Safety is needed because it leads to work productivity, efficiency and excellence.
- Lack of safety may lead to accidents and loss of manpower and hamper productivity
- Safety ensures a stress free life for an employee at workplace.
Measures to Ensure Safety at work place
- Implement Safety Policy: A safety policy is a set of written rules in an organisation which ensures health and safety provisions at workplace. Strict adherence to the safety policy will ensure safety.
- Strict implementation of statutory provisions at work place should be made compulsory or penalized for the violation
- Changing the unsafe equipment, faulty machinery, working conditions, installation of safety check machines and correction of unsafe working procedure
- Development of safety habits among the employees, awareness about the safety rules and regulations, spreading the education of maintaining the safety at work place by senior members will help to maintain a safe workplace without any occurrence of mis-happening.
- Periodic Medical check-up of the employees and their family members will ensure a disease free healthy family will reduce the fatigue among the employees.
- Periodic inspection of the work site, machines, working procedures needs to be reviewed
- Involvement of Trade Unions in managing the health and safety provisions at work place is essential.
- Safety education and training: New employees should be properly oriented and trained to handle equipments. Periodic refresher training is essential to ensure proper implementation of safety rules and regulation.
- Monitoring of safety adherence: Employees should wear the safety equipments such as helmets, boots, hand gloves, eyes glasses etc. The supervisors must monitor that the employees are adhering to the policies.
Reasons for accidents
Accident can be defined as an unplanned and uncontrolled event in which the action or reaction of an object, substance and person results in personal injury.
Unsafe Conditions such as defective plants, equipments, improper lighting, faulty layout, improper safety devices, insufficient ventilation, hazardous arrangement of machines and equipment around.
Inherent hazards: Some of the jobs by nature are prone to accidents which are dangerous and cause of industrial accidents eg, coal mining, marine transport etc
Collision: It occurs when an employee collides with some objects or things which cause accidents. Generally this takes place because of misplaced equipments, things etc.
Slip or fall on floors and stair case: Stair case with wet water fallen, oily substance, highly polished floors are some of the dangerous reasons for accidents.
Miscellaneous causes such as age of the employees, lack of cleanliness, poor health of the employees also leads to accidents
Unsafe Acts: Many times carelessness, negligence, lack of knowledge and skill, arrogance towards works, laziness from the employees may lead to industrial accidents.
Some of the examples of unsafe acts are as follows:
- Operating without authority
- Ignoring the warning signs
- Throwing materials on the floor carelessly
- Making safety devices in-operative intentionally
- Working at unsafe speeds
- Distracting, teasing, abusing, quarreling etc while working
Ways to avoid accidents
Safety Committee: This committee consists of representatives from the employees and the employer side which ensures that safety measures are being taken at workplace.
Safety Training: All employees should be trained with refresher training on a periodic manner across the functions to ensure accident free zone.
Change in the environment: Many accidents can be prevented by changing the physical environment such a ventilation, lighting, right temperature, redesigning work place and correcting faulty arrangement of machines.
Material handling equipment installation at workplace will reduce the risk of employee meeting with accident while heavy loads from one place to another place.
Guarding of machines: As safety measures, the machines should have safety guards which should be covered so that no gets hurt with the sharp edges.
Maintenance of Plants: Preventive maintenance should be carried out which will ensure all machines and equipments are in good condition.
Regular inspection: In order to prevent any leakage or other problems a frequent and regular inspection should be made to ensure safety of machines
Proper Clothing: Hand gloves, masks, helmets, footwear or whatever required as safety devices must be maintained and should be comfortable to the worker.
Clean Floors: Passages, floors, stairs case should be clean and dry to avoid any kind of accidents.
Strict implementation of rules, regulations and norms with regards to workplace safety.
Noise is an unwanted sound. Any sound above 80 decibels becomes a noise.
Noise control means controlling the levels of the noise so as to keep it within certain limits i.e 80 decibels or else it might lead to permanent deafness, nervous breakdown, difficulty in communication. Noisy areas should be ideally covered to reduce the impact the noise. Workers should be provided with ear masks to protect themselves from heavy noises.
Work stress is a condition arising from the interaction of the employee with their jobs which leads to change of behaviour within people due to which deviation takes place from their normal standard of performance.
Causes of Work Stress
- Lack of group cohesiveness ( mismatch with group decision)
- Role conflicts ( too many jobs to be done at a time)
- Role ambiguity ( lack of clear instructions at work)
- Work Overload ( work received beyond the employee’s capacity)
- Feeling of Inequality ( feeling of inferiority at work)
- Problem of Job difficulty (misfit with job)
- Inadequate authority( too many responsibility without proper authority)
- Develop emotional intelligence
- Time Management
- Upgrade Skills at work
- Differentiate between urgent and important
- Focus on the key result areas of the work
- Continuous investment in yourself
- Sideline the ego factors at work
- Establish a rapport with the colleagues
- Regular exercise with proper rest
- Learn to appreciate other’s work
Alcoholism and drug abuse
Alcoholism and drug abuse is a situation where an employee is addicted to immoral and illegal drugs which may cause low productivity, high absenteeism and poor concentration at work. These effects are damaging to the work life as reduces the efficiency and the employee loosed the emotional intelligence at work.
However it can be tackled by following some actions steps by the organisation:
- Provision of In-house counseling by the HR department
- Medical facilities at subsidized rates to help in recovery from drug addiction
- Corporate tie up with rehabilitation centers
- Free in-house medical checkups to detect the early symptoms of addiction
- Awareness program across the organisation to avoid or recover from such addiction
Government of India has the following bodies to help in recovery from Alcoholism and drug abuse.
- IRCA: Integrated Rehabilitation Center for Addicts
- WFP: Prevention of alcoholism and drug abuse
- RRTC: Regional Resource and Training Centers
- ACDC: Awareness cum drug addiction camps
Violence at work place
Workplace violence is an act of physical violence, harassment, threatening that occurs in a place where employees perform their duties. Sometimes employees display aggressive behavior at workplace which could cause physical or psychological harm to the employees. Extreme cases may end in physical combat resulting in assaulting, ignorance of safety rules and accidental deaths. All this will finally result in low morale turning into low productivity and become a major cause of job stress.
Different kinds of violence at workplace:
- Violence by co-workers, employees or employers
- Physical assaults from the trade union resulting into industrial disputes
- Threats of sabotage
- Sexual harassment
- Physical disputes with superiors
- Usage of foul language among the employees
- Employees carrying weapons to workplace
Causes of workplace violence:
- Due to variations in power
- Due to variations in authority
- Due to variation in physical strength
Remedial Measures to reduce workplace violence
- Counseling the probable employees likely to get violent based on their behavior symptoms
- Divert the powerful employees towards the organisational goals where their powers can be used constructively
- Create a friendlier environment at the workplace
- Formulate a diversified team with different qualities
- Eliminate candidates with violence behavior at the time of selection
- Impose severe punishments on violators
- Bring coordination among the workers by introducing labour welfare plan
- Increasing employee morale by introducing hike in salary, promotions, increments, greater responsibilities
- Identifying the talents and skill of the employees and encourage
- Avoid discrimination among workers at different levels
Workplace harassment is the threatening, unwelcomed or uncomfortable behaviour directed at an individual employee or a group of employees. It can be a sexual harassment or use of derogatory statement with regards to the gender, age, sex, religion, disability etc. It may include verbal abuse, sexually explicit or derogatory language, display of offensive cartoons or materials, offensive gestures, starring, touching, patting, brushing against a person’s body, blocking an employee’s movement, telling jokes sexually offensive to the employee, commenting about a employee’s body or sex life, giving sexually suggestive gifts etc.
Measures to reduce workplace harassment
- Train all employees to understand what workplace harassment is and how to avoid it. Employees should receive training that will help them become sensitive to the possible ways they may be offending others.
- Develop a clear policy prohibiting workplace harassment at workplace. This policy should describe in detail what is meant by workplace harassment. It should also clearly state that the company will not tolerate such behaviours.
- Set up clear grievance procedures with respect to workplace harassment. The persons to whom employees should bring complaints should be clearly identified and readily available.
- Keep the workplace free of sexual offensive materials, posters, calendar and availability of online access.
- Specify in advance how the company will treat offenders and then strictly enforce this policy. The consequences of engaging in workplace harassment should be stated clearly and enforced vigorously.
Labour welfare – approaches and types
Labour welfare refers to all those efforts of employers, trade unions, voluntary organisations and governmental agencies which help employees feel comfortable and aimed at improvement or social upliftment of the employees (over & above the wages paid)
According to Industrial Labour Organisation (ILO) “Labour welfare may be understood and including such services facilities and amenities which may be established in vicinity of undertaking to perform their work in healthy and congenial environment and to avail of facilities which improve their health and bring high morale.”
Statutory welfare measure are the setting up of minimum standard or level of employees to the workers which are laid down by various acts like Employee State insurance Act, Workmen compensation act, gratuity act, maternity benefit act etc.
Labour welfare measures inside the workplace – Intra Mural Facilities
Conditions of the work environment
- Workplace safety and cleanliness
- Housekeeping; up-keeping of premises – compound wall, lawns, gardens, passages and doors, white washing of walls & floor maintenance
- Workshop room sanitation & cleanliness, temperature, humidity, ventilation, lighting, elimination of dust smoke & gases.
- Control of effluents(waste matters)
- Convenience and comfort during work (ergonomics)
- Provision of rest hours, meal timings & breaks
- Workmen’s safety measures i.e maintenance of machines & tools, fencing of machines, providing guards, helmets, aprons, goggles & first aid equipment
- Supply of necessary beverages i.e salt, water, emergency medicines
- Notice boards, posters, pictures, slogans, information or communication
- Urinals & lavatories, wash basins, bathrooms, provision for spittoons, waste disposal
- Provision of drinking water, water coolers
- Canteen Services, ( Veg & non veg separate)
- Workers cloak rooms, rest rooms, reading rooms, library
Workers Health Services
- Ambulance, Factory Health center, Dispensary, Emergency Aid, Medical examination for workers, Health education, family planning services
Women & Child Welfare
- Maternity Aid, Creche & Child Care, Women General Education, Separate Services for women workers i.e lunch rooms, urinals, rest rooms, women’s recreation(indoor), family planning services
- Progress Report, Workers adjustment problems with regard to machines & workload, supervisors, colleagues, industrial counseling
- Indoor games; Canteen Facilities
- Co-operatives, Loans, Financial grants, saving schemes, health insurance, profit sharing schemes, bonus schemes, PF, Gratuity, ESI, Pension, Rewards & incentives, Compensation on injury, family assistance.
Labour Management participation
- Formation and working of various committees i.e safety committee, canteen committee, welfare committee, in the production area, administrative area, workmen’s arbitration council
- Reading room, library, circulating library, adult education, social education, factory new bulletin, tie up with education institutes
Labour welfare measures outside the workplace – Extra Mural Facilities
- Housing facilities : Bachelors quarters, family residences
- Water, sanitation & waste disposal
- Roads, Lighting, parks, recreation playgrounds
- Schools, Nursery, Primary, secondary & high school
- Markets, credit societies, Co-operatives
- Communication: post & telephone
- Health & medical services, dispensary, emergency ward, out patient & in patient care, family visiting & family planning
- Recreation like games, clubs, craft centers, cultural programmes, interest & hobby circles, festival celebrations, swimming pool, gym & open air theater
- Security services for the society
- Community leadership development: Council of elders, community services for child, youth & women’s club
Statutory Welfare Measures – Benefits as per the law
- Employees State Insurance Act, 1948
- Employees Provident Fund Act, 1952
- Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
- Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972
- Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923
Non – Statutory Welfare Measures – Benefits not as per the law aimed to to attract, retain & motivate employees
Perquisites or Perks for employees
- Providing Tea, coffee, during working hours
- Sufficient Break (Lunch Time & Tea Time)
- Stock option schemes
- Flexible timings
- Sports / Gym to employees
- Rewards & Benefits
- Overtime fund benefits
Others welfare measures
Personal Health Care (Regular medical check-ups): Some of the companies provide the facility for extensive health check-up
Flexi-time: The main objective of the flextime policy is to provide opportunity to employees to work with flexible working schedules. Flexible work schedules are initiated by employees and approved by management to meet business commitments while supporting employee personal life needs
Employee Assistance Programs: Various assistant programs are arranged like external counseling service so that employees or members of their immediate family can get counseling on various matters.
Harassment Policy: To protect an employee from harassments of any kind, guidelines are provided for proper action and also for protecting the aggrieved employee.
Adoption Leave – Employees can avail adoption leaves. Paternity leave policies have also been introduced by various companies.
Medi-claim Insurance Scheme: This insurance scheme provides adequate insurance coverage of employees for expenses related to hospitalization due to illness, disease or injury or pregnancy.
Employee Referral Scheme: In several companies employee referral scheme is implemented to encourage employees to refer friends and relatives for employment in the organization.
Social Security: Investment made by the employer which will fetch good returns in long run. It will cover some risks and contingencies which an employee can’t afford from the limited resources. It is the security that protects against the risks and provides social Justice and equality. For example Protection Against Industrial Accidents.
The benefits of social security are to improve quality of life, induce confidence in them, motivates the employees, benefit in long run, provide social and economic justice and manage the goodwill of the employee in the society.
Two ways of providing social security: Social insurance and Social Assistance
Social Insurance: Concept of Group Contribution by both employees & employer by giving return in contribution which cover the risks & contingencies which an employee faces. Example: ESI Act, Maternity Benefit Act, Provident Fund Act, Gratuity Act and Workmen compensation Act
Social Assistance: It is the initiative taken by Government towards the employees and financed by the state.
Social Assistance Schemes in India:
Rajiv Gandhi Shramik Kalyan Yojana ( Unemployment Allowance Scheme): The Rajiv Gandhi Shramik Kalyan Yojana was introduced w.e.f. 01.04.2005, Under the Scheme, employees covered under the Scheme who lose their employment due to closure of factories/ establishments, retrenchment or permanent invalidity are entitled to Unemployment Allowance equal to 50% of their wage for up to one year.
Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) has been started by the government to give health insurance cover to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families. The aim of RSBY is to protect the BPL households against financial hardships emanating from health problems that require hospitalisation.
New Pension Scheme (NPS): Applicable for all citizens of India aged between 18 and 60 which facilitates the participation of self-employed people and others in building a retirement corpus. Individuals can choose their own investments in equity, corporate bonds and government securities. NPS is a good second avenue for those who want to get higher pensions than what is obtained under the Employees’ Pensions Scheme run by EPFO.