Workplace injuries impose huge burdens on families, employees, the economy, and society. Health and safety play a vital role in the work environment. Most enterprises and organizations experience financial struggles as a result of many hours that are lost due to illnesses and injuries in a work environment. Therefore, organizations need to ensure health safety for their employees. According to Leitao (2015), 1.8 million working days were lost in Ireland due to work-related accidents, injuries, and illness. Understanding factors associated with workplace injury is important in terms of harm prevention. In order for an organization to conduct operations effectively, the safety of employees should be guaranteed by defining regulations that secure the safety and welfare of the workers.
A workplace injury is any kind of ill-health physical or mental malfunction caused by the employee’s occupation. Injuries that occur as a result of occupational accidents can range from minor to permanent or life-threatening illnesses like cancer and respiratory diseases, which are majorly caused by fumes and other toxic materials in an industrial occupation. Most of these injuries might take a long to manifest themselves in the body, such as cancer, silicosis, and physical injuries such as cumulative trauma disorder (CTD). According to Mekkodathil, El-Menyar, and Al-Thani (2016), agriculture, forestry and fishing, construction, health, and social work, transport and industries are the main economic sectors in Ireland where work-related injuries are likely to occur. The agriculture sector encompasses 50 percent of the total recorded injuries in 2018 (Mekkodathil, El-Menyar, and Al-Thani, 2016). Workplace injuries in Ireland and around the globe are attributed to occupational hazards, which cause physical or permanent injuries to an individual in a workplace.
Physical hazard as a notion stands for the type of health threat that causes harm through the transfer of energy, such as a box falling off a shelf and injuring an individual in a workplace (Spurlock, 2017). Chemical hazard is a more dangerous and complex phenomenon, which causes tissue damage in various ways, with some of them causing exposition and burns or interfering with normal body functioning such as causing hallucinations. Biological hazards are organisms such as bacterial and funguses that affect normal body functioning.
Embracing Safety in the Workplace
The value of embracing a safe working environment should start with the top management of an institution. Abubakar et al. (2018) state that the value of safety must start with the organizations’ management and overall workplace safety climate, i.e., if workers are valued by management, safety will be valued at a higher rate. If workers are respected by the employers and their safety is guaranteed, other workers develop a safer working environment (Abubakar et al., 2018). Many people are being injured and succumbing due to injuries and exposure caused due to work-related accidents. Major reasons for these accidents are attributed to the lack of awareness and lack of proper personal protective equipment, which is evident in the majority of health front workers.
Most of the affected industry by COVID-19 is the health sector. According to Hyland et al. (2020), 2700 health workers were infected with the COVID-19 virus in May. Most of them were nurses working in isolation centers and other holding facilities, with a lack of protective equipment exposing them to the virus. Labor organizations and other activists around the world have paid close attention to risk issues and how to mitigate them by spreading awareness that relates to accidents, injuries, and illnesses. Embracing safety in a working environment is important because the health of employees ensures profit maximization to the organization, as all the working hours are dedicated to the tasks assigned and reduce the cost incurred in treating and compensating employees.
Mitigating Health Risks
Risk mitigation can be defined as a measure put in place by organizations to ensure the safety and welfare of employees. According to Loeppke et al. (2017), in 2017, there were 47 work-related fatalities in Ireland, where 41 of them were workers, and 6 were members of the general public. The report further states that 13,198 people experienced occupational-related injuries requiring absence from work for three to more days (Loeppke et al., 2017). These risks have a huge impact on both the organizations and the employees, implying that mitigation factors have to be put in place to reduce these accidents and fatality rates.
Organizations, therefore, must come up with risk mitigation guidelines that will ensure a safe working environment. According to Loeppke et al. (2017), most injuries are attributed to a lack of awareness among the employees. It is therefore important for organizations to come up with safety guidelines and protocols to curb the occurrence of these accidents. Workers with short job tenure tend to have a high risk of injuries because most of them do not have enough knowledge about the use of the equipment and other tools that might injure them. Monitoring and training of new workers are likely to curb occupational injuries and fatalities. Working long hours also has an advanced effect on work injuries and illness. Employees operating machinery are at high risk of becoming victims of occupational accidents due to fatigue. Thus, it would be important for organizations to schedule working hours and shifts for their employees to have a proper rest.
During the COVID 19 pandemic, it has become evident that most of the health workers have no protective equipment required to prevent the workers from contracting the virus. According to the data recorded in the Ireland healthcare sector, the virus has quite an advanced effect with the patient to doctor ratio is 29.5 physicians per 10,000 residents (World Health Organization, 2016). It means that when one health worker is affected, most people will be directly affected as the health worker will not be able to perform his duties. It is, therefore, important for the government and other private organizations in the health department to ensure the safety and wellbeing of health workers by providing them with high-quality personal protective gear such as M95 face masks, gloves, and other protective gear to curb infection of high contagious disease.
Organizations should also come up with safety manuals and install safety equipment such as fire extinguishers in their working stations. Good and healthy waste disposal mechanisms will ensure the safety of personals and the general public (World Health Organization, 2016). This practice is very important in ensuring that the dumping of waste materials, some of which might be toxic and dangerous, is done in accordance with the set guidelines. It is also the obligation of an organization to have safety guidelines that govern the institution. Most of these manuals provided by the World Health Organization include wearing face masks in enterprises dealing with high toxic fumes, wearing safety boots and helmets in construction industries to prevent injuries. These measures are extremely important in ensuring that safety within a workplace is achieved.
Workplace injuries and accidents have an advanced effect on both employees and businesses. According to the studies considered, it has become clear that occupational accidents are very common in the Republic of Ireland. These accidents cause suffering to employees, some of which may be fatal. Organizations, therefore, have to come up with strategies that will enable healthy working conditions to avoid accidents. The study concludes that a healthy working environment has a good profit return to the organization.
Abubakar, A.M., Karadal, H., Bayighomog, S.W., and Merdan, E. (2018) ‘Workplace injuries, safety climate and behaviors: application of an artificial neural network’, International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, pp.1-11.
Hyland, P. et al. (2020) ‘Anxiety and depression in the Republic of Ireland during the COVID‐19 pandemic’, Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 142(3), pp. 249-256.
Leitao A. S. (2015). Management of safety climate and the psychosocial work environment–new challenges for occupational health and safety professionals? Doctoral dissertation. University College Cork.
Loeppke, R. R. et al. (2017) ‘Integrating health and safety in the workplace: how closely aligning health and safety strategies can yield measurable benefits’, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 57(5), pp. 585-597. Web.
Mekkodathil, A., El-Menyar, A. and Al-Thani, H. (2016) ‘Occupational injuries in workers from different ethnicities’, International Journal of Critical Illness and Injury Science, 6(1), pp. 25-32.
Spurlock, B. (2017) Physical hazards of the workplace. 2nd ed. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
World Health Organization. (2016). WHO guidelines for the safe use of wastewater excreta and greywater (1 vol.). Geneva: World Health Organization.