Occupational health and safety has become a famous and an important issue in workplace and society. When people are questioned what they think about OH&S, most people who joined the labour force will response as, “It is important to secure my safety in workplace”, while people not within the labour force will answer as “What is it? ” or “is it important? “. Therefore, this literature review will not just focus on practitioners’ and researchers’ view in the importance of OH&S planning in workplace and society, but also the usefulness of the knowledge from OH&S planning to people and to organizations.
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What is OH&S? Historically (pre-1970s) the focus of OHS legislation was prescriptive. Comply or be punished (Pearn, 2003). In 1972 the Roben’s report was introduced which encouraged an ‘enabling’ style of OHS legislative. It was characterised not only by a focus on compliance but also risk management, self-regulation and pest practice (Neo et al. , 2004). Barling et al. (2004) stated that occupational health and safety is a major issue for employees, and how management deals with this issue of both academic and practical significance.
The most frequent organizational approaches used to produce a sufficient level of safety have focused on the optimal design of equipment (i. e. , an ergonomic approach), adherence with government-imposed standards (i. e. , a legislative approach), or compliance with the terms of collective agreements. Therefore, programmatic or systematic approaches to occupational safety and health are rapidly emerging internationally as the preeminent strategy for employers to reduce occupational illness and injury.
In additional, Schulte (2002) stated that the aim is to improve knowledge, increase understanding, and apply information to specific problems. Because in many places the occupational safety and health problems are not new, but known solutions have not been applied. Where new problems exist, new information needs to be created and shared. Cost of unsafe practice All researchers proved that how important OH;S knowledge are by the global burden of occupational death rates.
The workforce of the world is approximately 2.9 billion out of a total of 6. 2 billion people, and they work in a range of situations from pre-industrial to high technology and information (Schulte, 2002). Between 1996-98, there were 47,803 workplace major injuries. Estimates suggest that each year the cost to the Australian community resulting from occupational illness, injury and disease is approximately $3 billion (Kleiman, 2000). Why OH;S knowledge are needed? Prevention is always better than cure (Deitchman et al. , 2001).
While an employer’s conduct after an accident can have significant ongoing consequences for the conduct of a prosecution, this should not distract the employer from the primary objective of preventing accidents in the first place (Pearn, 2002). Macintosh and Gough (1998) conducted out an example of why OH&S knowledge are needed in workplace to maintain a safety culture and environment. A company named BRAKECO, which was part of a multinational automotive components manufacturing group. It manufactured brakes and clutches for each of the Australian-based automotive assemblers.
The company employed over 1200 workers on its Melbourne site with approximately 800 production employees of whom a significant proportion had non-English-speaking backgrounds. There were a wide range of possible hazards on the BRAKECO site including those associated with foundry processes, noise due to metal machining, muscoskeletal injuries due to repeatedly bending, twisting, and lifting in assembly and machining work, and inhalation of toxic chemicals. Apart from that, there are person-based and behaviour-based problems which lead to the need for OH&S knowledge.
Safety researches (Hofmann et. al, 1995 & Wright, 1986) have found that workers are more likely to engage in ”short cut” work practices when they face pressures to perform. Thus, workers will forgo safe working practices when they feel the need to perform quickly. Also, in another case, Chapin (2001) states that individuals tend to believe that it is acceptable to continue to engage in unsafe behavior due to the overly optimistic belief that they are immune to or greatly underestimate the risks associated with the behavior.
The belief that ”it couldn’t happen to me” has been found to be a consistent justification for adopting such unsafe work practices. A third theme that sheds light on why individuals continue to engage in unsafe work practices was found to be personal image. It was expressed that some workers choose not to use safety equipment or they tend to perform work unsafely to avoid being teased or made fun of by their coworkers, and occasionally by the boss (Mullen, 2004).
In the same paper, Mullen (2004) further argued that there were many organizational factors that significantly affected individual safety behavior. These factors include role overload, perceptions of performance over safety, socialization influences, safety attitudes, and perceived risks. Infrastructure and planning to support OH;S In Australia, each state and territory has in place its own regulatory dealing with workplace OHS committees.
The general functions include reviewing measures taken to make the workplace healthy and recommending to the employer ways to protect the health and safety of all people (Pearn, 2002). Ideally, Deitchman et al. (2001) suggested that work-related injuries and illnesses should be prevented rather than relying upon treatment. In theory, Macintosh and Gough (1998) have found that accident prevention is common ground and nobody wants workers to be injured. Health and Safety programs reflect the organisation’s strategic concern for employee productivity and quality of life (Stone, 2002).
Therefore, various countries particularly the United States, Canada, Australia, and European countries foster international collaboration in research and training. With the OH&S programs, they are linked with the organisation’s strategic business objectives to seek competitive advantage by promoting employee commitment, the company’s image as a preferred employer, reduced cost and increased productivity. Poor occupational health and safety performance equates with poor human resource management, and poor ethical, legal and social responsibility (Stone, 2002).
Therefore, the focus of OH&S programs are to understand, investigate, control, and prevent occupational and environment health problems (Schulte, 2002). To minimize work-related health risks, most occupational safety and health programs include engineering controls, administrative controls, permissible exposure limits, personal protective equipment and medical examinations to various extents (Straif and Silverstein, 1997). Moreover, OSH studies are published to promote OH&S knowledge through the world (Schulte, 2002).