Play your part in making the workplace a safer and healthier place
World Day for Safety and Health at Work is an annual celebration on the 28th of April to promote the prevention of diseases and occupational accidents worldwide. How important is it, you may ask? Every day, 6,400 people die from an occupational accident or disease, amounting to 2.3 million deaths each year. However, with the economies slowly re-opening after the last lockdown, it is even more important to address health and safety in the workplace, and how to build a better future of work during and after the pandemic.
Protecting the life and health of workers globally
We have written how Covid-19 impacts businesses and employment, here, I take a different angle and look at what needs to change. In July 2020, the ILO hosted the largest online summit with its constituents – workers, employers and government representatives to address the impact of COVID-19 on the world of work. The strategies adopted by all will play a crucial role in combating the outbreak, ensuring the safety of individuals and the sustainability of businesses and jobs. This is to ensure that the core ILO standards such as adequate protection for the life and health of workers in all occupations and prevention of discrimination and exclusion will be protected.
Emerging risks – are you prepared?
COVID-19 has deepened the occupational health crisis in workplaces. With every industry affected, both employees and employers have struggled with work-life balance, wellbeing and job security during this pandemic.
Key workers have been affected more due to an increase of work in their workload and insufficient time for rest and recuperation. These demands resulted in chronic fatigue and lack of energy. Overload on NHS workers, in turn, impacted many people with existing health conditions have experienced a deterioration as regular access to healthcare services has been curtailed because of the pandemic. Many may have not been able to see a GP and, at the same time, their condition may not have warranted a visit to the A&E department.
We are also seeing new and emerging occupational risks due to new working conditions and new working arrangements. For instance, we have seen work intensification from downsizing and workplace stress which can lead to burnout leaving them feeling exhausted, unproductive and unable to cope with the demands of life. Safe physical distancing at work and working from home have had adverse consequences on the mental health of employees since we are inherently social and enjoy having a good cup of tea with others here in Britain.
New health and safety rules for everyone
With vaccinations taken across the world to manage COVID-19, workplaces are beginning to re-open again. Nonetheless, employers have an even greater responsibility to ensure safe and healthy work conditions to protect the wellbeing of employees. Building barriers, organising regular environmental clean-up and disinfection, avoiding business face-to-face meetings and restricting employees and visitors contact are a few measures that all employers will be adopting to run their businesses.
These rules also apply to visitors and customers. From a personal experience in these last few months, going to the shop requires that I use a hand sanitiser upon entry. While all retailers provide cleaning products, some offer wearing disposable gloves, too. In a gym, I now have to wipe down the equipment before and after use and always wear a mask while keeping socially distant. Employees are also responsible for working safely, protecting themselves and not endangering others. These might seem like minor changes, but we are all accepting them and adjusting to a new way of living.