Safety issues in the workplace causing physical injury with practical recommendations
Author(s): Hasan Sye
Safety Behaviour is used as an attempt to prevent unsafe practices in the workplace from occurring (Kelloway, E. et al, 2020). This is by limiting the elements of harm which can result in accidents, or both physical and mental harm in a work environment (Huang, Y. et al, 2021). It is important in a workplace to implement behaviour which help contribute to a safe working environment for employees as harms can range from injuries to fatalities (Hunag, Y. et al, 2021). Also, Safety compliance is the extent to which an employee followed safety rules, and safety participation is how much an employee will go beyond safety behaviour expectations (Kelloway, E. et al, 2020). This paper will understand safety behaviour in the workplace using different physical factors that can affect people in a work environment (Huang, Y. et al, 2021). There will also be an understanding of the safety behaviour perceptions by employees regarding where the responsibility should lie. These different ways that contribute to bad safety behaviour will be addressed through ways that organizations can help improve their health.
Understanding occupational injuries through firefighters, mining, nursing, and farming
In the Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, Smith, et al. (2020) assessed how safety behaviour affected the burnout with firefighters and nurses. Burnout is the physical or mental exhaustion caused by stress and overworking (Smith, et al, 2020). The role of firefighting is difficult, and burnout can negatively impact their job outcome. This is a problem as firefighters need to be alert and attentive as they go into hazardous situations to save people’s lives every day. The study analyzed that lack of compliance with personal protective equipment, standard operating procedure and communication resulted in increased risks to the job, and overstress resulting in burnout (Smith, et al, 2020). A cross sectional study of over seven hundred firefighters asked a series of questions related to stress, organization health and burnout level (Smith, et al, 2020). The results concluded the largest safety hazard issue was occupational injury and illnesses. This is because these roles often overlook hazard elimination, administrative controls, and the use of personal protective equipment (Smith, et al, 2020). These issues at the workplace come with the organization, overlooking the pressures that firefighters face which has caused lack of focus and their reduced safety behaviour (Smith, et al, 2020). In a similar example the international journal of occupational and safety Ergonomics, Ghasemi, F et al (2022) studied safety behaviour related to nurses working in hospitals. Using a Bayesian network analysis, they conduct questionnaires by nurses in three public hospitals (Ghasemi, F. et al, 2022). Of the 211 nurses, in the last 12 months 39.3% of women had experienced occupational injuries (Ghasemi, F et al, 2022). These injuries were due to the lack of safety compliance, and safety participation. Nurses encounter biological, physical, chemical, and ergonomic hazards regularly, and any accidents facing healthcare workers are critical as patients need support (Ghasemi, F et al, 2022). Long hours, irregularities in shift times, having adequate safety training, and compliance are necessary for nurses to have for their work. This study concluded that the increase in hazards and injuries is due to the supervisor's weak attitude towards safety and training (Ghasemi, F et al, 2022). This resulted in the highest effect on nurses and their safety performance and resulted in occupational injuries (Ghasemi, F et al, 2022). This problem will be further analyzed with coal miners.
In a journal of vocational behaviour, Xinfeng, Ye et al (2020) discussed how coal mining is a hazardous occupation in China. However, with the reinforcements by the industry towards modern and safe machines the organization is still facing many accidents yearly, due to human errors. In a study completed in ninety-eight coal mining sites, through a 121 questionnaire on the commitment to safety by the organization for coal miners (Xinfeng, Ye et al, 2020). It showed while the team reflexivity, and team-level support is together, there is still lack of organizational commitment to the safety of miners with their psychological factors causing harm (Xinfeng, Ye et al, 2020). A measure was used on managers for safety behaviour by two practices: safety compliance and participation. The results showed that while managers were committed to team reliability, a positive environment, and helping to reduce harmful job practices there is still a lack of support to reduce human errors. This neglect of safety behaviour can cause injury and harm to the miners, and their team. This connects with the Journal for Safety science, O’Conner et al, (2022) discussed similar safety behaviour which affected Irish dairy farmers. For these people working in the agriculture industry face many hazards such as tractors, livestock and slurry all resulting in injuries (O’Conner et al, 2022). A study distributed to 1220 farmers asked how often they engage in safe working practices. Only 460 people responded to the survey, and this showed the lack of engagement that farmers had to safety (O’Conner et al, 2022). This is concerning as the hazards due to the workplace that are fatal are not addressed (O’Conner et al, 2022). Results showed that machinery, tractor hazards and livestock had a medium safety score. With 73% of farmers stating they would increase safety practices, 93% of farmers had believed their current practices were already safe (O’Conner et al, (2022).
Perceptions of safety behaviour, and where the responsibility lies?
Moreover, it is important to understand the perceptions of employees and their safety behaviour. In the Journal on Ergonomics, Huang (2021) studied that research on safety climate outcomes is various in different occupational settings. The relationships between the three dimensions, company, supervisor, and the worker, are important. However, Hunag (2021) used the Nordic occupational safety climate and provided this to employees of the organization to understand how they perceive safety behaviour in the workplace and its responsibilities. They measured various industries such as construction, nuclear, and commercial drivers (Huang, 2021). The results showed over 90% of employees believe that the supervisor and the organization are responsible for implementing safety behaviour, and limiting harm in the workplace (Huang, 2021). Even though the responsibility falls on every person in an organization to limit harm and injury the organization has the repeatability to ensure that employees are working in a safe environment, following proper safety behaviour, and proactively implementing changes that limit physical injury (Hunag, 2021).
An analysis of safety behaviour has been important as organizations are able to learn from experiences to see how they can implement support mechanisms for their employees to limit harm. Also, the perceptions of employees on responsibility are important to determine how to move forward with safety behaviour. The next section will assess solutions and practical recommendations to help create positive safety behaviour in the workplace.
Practical recommendations and solutions for organizations for better safety behaviour
The current lack of safety behaviour that firefighters, coal miners, nurses and agriculture workers face daily can be fatal. Here I will assess practical recommendations that all roles can use for better safety behaviour
1. A solution that can reduce physical injuries is fixing the hierarchy of control. In Smith., et al (2020) they had studied organizations can implement methods using a strategy through the National institute of Occupational Safety and health. It believes by leaders setting an example with the protection and improvement of workers and their wellbeing. These tyles of strategy can be psychological support, therapy for injuries and social support (Smith, et al 2020). All occupations: firefighters, coal miners, nursing and agriculture workers will be safer at work.
2. In Kelloway, E et al, (2020) an issue analyzed in these industries is the lack of training. This recommendation applies the needs analysis by the organization for employees. The organization and leaders can understand what the job and employee’s needs are, create the objectives that need to be made to achieve safety behaviour, how to train people and implement. Evaluation of training and their design can also be helpful for reflection; any of these organizations can use this to change the model, so it applies better (Kelloway, E. et al, 2020). It is important to have a straightforward and systematic way for a work where both compliance and good work are achieved.
3. Firefighters, nurses, and farmers can specifically seek support for burnout and methods of how to deal with it. This psychological support is specific to the employee and their occupation. Support here will help them understand the policies and procedures of their critical jobs (Ghasemi, F et al, 2022). This will also help reduce injuries, and fatalities while working with heavy machinery, person, chemical and biological hazard.
4. To avoid overlooking safety measures, another practical solution is the implementation of training evaluation. Kelloway, E et al, (2020) they explain, an organization can measure their reactions, assess knowledge from training, and evaluate their application of the training, and results. This all helps to contribute to good safety behaviors in the workplace.
5. Coal Miners organization should intervene in psychological support for their employees. By understanding the role that human factors have caused in problems for employees proper, intervention and support can help reduce fatalities that occur annually (Xinfeng et al, 2020).
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