Safety and occupational health

publication date 31.12.2010

Safety and occupational health

If no accident happens, or if work safety is not compromised, we all pose as heros. If the contrary is true, the search is on for the culprit to  be seated in the bail dock. Yet such situations can  be prevented.  All it takes is to devote a little of your managerial time to the system of work safety and health protection. 

These days we often experience companies resolving the work safety issues just „for effect“. If the company does want to resolve the work safety problem, then they will ask how the whole procedure could be made as cheap as possible asserting they had the training last year, it is the same, year in, year out, where is the signature box, and the like.  

Many CEOs or companies´statutory representatives are probably failing to realize that a quality work safety policy and having their employees respect its principles on a daily basis will make all the difference between them sitting in the bail dock or the witness stand when it comes to a trial. Invariably, these things are considered every time an industrial accident happens or a critical situation occurs. Operable safety-of-work documentation cannot be compiled „without workplace-specific research“. Constultants need to spend some time in the company watching activities, behaviour of employees and the established practice to get an idea „from the outside“, as it were. This is the only way they can elaborate one of the statutory obligations of the safety of work, which is The register and analysis of hazards

Transition period ending

Currently, we see the legislation transition period - when „everybody“ could be dealing with work safety - end. They did not need any specific education. The transition period as stipulated in Act 309/2006 of the Code shall end by December 31, 2011, and since that date the safety of work can only be dealt with by qualified personnel. This Act expressly stipulates that, i.a., in organizations with over 26 employees, they need to have one employee who is competent, or an external consultant who is a competent person. Unless they meet these requirements, the organization will run the risk of real sanctions and recourse from the side of the work safety inspectorate which is definitely going to focus on this issue while carrying out their inspections.  

Test error

I could give you countless examples of inconsistent and non-systematic safety-of-work solutions, but, of all the examples, I am going to give just one. An organization was dealing with the work safety issue in keeping with the regulations in force, with the applicable training courses being in progress at pre-arranged intervals and expert knowledge being verified in written tests. One of the employees tested made a mistake. Due to the fact he was not provided with the correct answer, he was later, when working on the job, following the wrong procedure. Specifically, it was the following question: „Working in the height of 1,50 m and more above the ground shall be regarded as the work at heights“. The worker´s wrong answer was 1,80 m and he carried on working under this rule. Unfortunately, he had an industrial accident involving the work at heights, and, through retrospective investigation, inspectors came to the conclusion that the worker had not been provided with the correct answer, and the employer subsequently had to account for what had happened. 

The right procedure to resolve the aforementioned issues is a systematic and permantent safety-of-work solution at all the management levels. In practical terms, it means creating relevant procedures and records, setting a system of training to transfer the respective principles of safety to individual workers. These documents can be prepared by an external consultant, but the correct and continuous adherence to safety rules is up to the individual executives at the particular levels of management. In other words, they can prepare a training scheme for top managers who are supposed to arrange for and be responsible for training of employees at lower levels of management.  The training should also include the relevant directions to use the pertinent machinery, an aspect all too often neglected in practice. Introduction of the Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems according to the standard of ČSN OHSAS 18001 appears to be a working systematic tool for implementation of all the safety-of-work principles. 

Pavel Trvaj

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