As we discussed earlier, we all want to live in a perfect world and work in a perfect workplace.  While perfection may be out of reach, both employers and employees can do their part to create an environment where we can all go to our specific job assignments, feeling free from safety and health risks. 

Workers and managers should plan together, using a continuous method to protect and promote the health, safety, and well-being of all employees.  The strains of work that employees face are mainly trying to balance work and life issues, which creates health problems when individuals face a lack of control at work.  Thus management should recognize that this can lead to distress levels that in turn can create short-term health complaints, with longer-term health disorders.  A normally healthy person placed in an unhealthy work environment will likely be prone to develop problems such as heart, back pain, mental health issues, and injuries.  In other words, no work environment should make people ill and susceptible to injury.  Companies should also enforce policies that accommodate older workers and those with chronic disease or disabilities.  They should have resources for their employees to participate in health-improvement programs.

We know that the following hazards or problems exist in many workplaces and must be addressed:

  • Physical – can result from structural, air, machinery, furniture, products;
  • Chemicals and materials;
  • Production processes;
  • Outdoor location work;
  • Ergonomics – awkward position, repetitive motions, lifting;
  • Mechanical – working around heavy machinery, noise;
  • Mobile – driving in hazardous conditions;
  • Psychosocial – Poor organization
  • Work demands, low reward or recognition;
  • Lack of supervisor support;
  • Poor communication;
  • Bullying, discrimination;
  • Lack of negotiation;
  • Lack of flexibility. 

Corrections to all of these are up to administration.  There should be leadership that oversees proper housekeeping of all work areas, preventive maintenance, enforcement of policies, adequate training, and furnishing the right Personal Protective Equipment, such as respirators for dusty work areas, industrial hard hats and boots for construction personnel, etc.  Their policies and programs to reduce health risks and improve the quality of life for workers can be carried out in some of these ways: 

  • Post signs to encourage use of stairs.
  • Place motivational posters in common areas.
  • Offer health education classes and weight management discussions.
  • Offer employee discounts for gym memberships.
  • Offer health benefits such as flu shots and free screenings.
  • Furnish literacy education to their employees and family members.
  • Establish smoke-free policies, by incorporating incentives and competitions, with added interventions. 

It sounds as though we have put all the demands on the shoulders of the companies.  But employees know that they must fulfill their obligations to the company and their families to stay healthy and safe at all times.  If you check around, you might be surprised to see how many large companies play an active part in their communities as well as their businesses.    They support the establishment of primary healthcare facilities in the communities.  They make commitments to planners to build sidewalks, bike paths, and other projects that benefit not just their employees, but entire communities.  When schools and charities solicit their help, they usually come through with financial support that individuals cannot afford to do.

So, let’s end the year and start a new one with the goal of creating a healthier workplace for ourselves and our coworkers.