Employee Health and Safety: Complacency Term Paper

Pages: 40 (12084 words)  ·  Style: Harvard  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Careers

Employee Health and Safety: Complacency

In the business world today, the focus has increasingly been on employee well-being. The reason for this is the changing view of the employee as a person with needs rather than only an automaton to complete a certain job within a certain time frame, so that the manager can make a profit. This view also recognizes that happy workers would be more productive and ultimately more profitable for the company as a whole. Job satisfaction provides an employee with a sense of well-being, which in turn translates into greater pride in the job being done and hence higher quality in the performance of that job. Furthermore, a greater sense of well-being also leads to lower stress levels and fewer worker hours being lost due to stress-related illness. This however does not appear to correlate with the predominant workplace situation today. Indeed, as will be shown, many workers place what they perceive as an obligation towards their employer above their own well-being. The focus of this study is to determine the reasons for this.

In concomitance with the understanding that workers need to be well in order to work well, several factors have been introduced especially during the latter half of the 20th century to make the workplace more pleasant for the employee. Elements such as ergonomics, more reasonable work hours and incentives in terms of raises and bonuses have become commonplace in businesses around the world. One of the most important elements to ensure worker satisfaction and retention is the implementation of health and safety standards.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Employee Health and Safety: Complacency in the Assignment

However, in addition to the above-mentioned hypothesis that workers tend to disregard their own health and safety for the sake of their work duties, it is also interesting to note that many incidents of excessively unhealthy conditions in terms of both psychological and physical danger are still reported. Surely the 21st century is an age during which employees are entitled to more than the drive to make money in the workplace. Surely, as already mentioned, workers have rights. But indeed, the very drive to earn a salary tend to drive workers towards substantially unsafe practices such as a disregard for their own safety and health at the workplace. To specifically address this issue, the research proposed will focus on three specific work areas that are notorious for their unsafe conditions and frequent lack of adequate safety standards.

The first of these is the office environment, in which a drive to complete a large workload within unrealistic time frames leads to stress. The complication here is that the manifestations of work-related psychological stress are often difficult to identify in a timely and targeted fashion. The second work area is the construction industry. Here also, time constraints motivate workers to not take the necessary precautions for their own health and safety in favor of completing the required work within a required time frame. The problem here is not as much a lack of health and safety standards, as the fact that time simply does not allow their implementation. Finally, the cockle picking industry is addressed. This industry is notorious not only for its lack of safety standards, but also for its highly dangerous nature. Gangmasters are driven by the need to make profits. Workers are then often exploited as a result of their ignorance regarding the law, their rights, and also their obligations with regard to their own health and safety.

The above areas will be addressed in order to estimate the exact reasons for employees' disregard of health and safety standards, as well as the disregard for their own individual well-being in favor of the work to be completed. Conclusions and recommendations will focus both the issues identified and the possible mitigation of the problem through recommended actions.

The disregard for health and safety for the sake of deadlines is a very disturbing trend indeed in today's workplace. Having progressed as far as we have in terms of human rights and worker satisfaction, it is unacceptable that the workplace today should be unsafe in any way, and that employers should allow this to be the case.

The study document is presented as follows:

Chapter 1: Study Design and Methodology entails an introduction to the workplace areas addressed, and hypotheses relating to workers. These hypotheses address health and safety issues in each different type of workplace. The Chapter also describes the objectives of the study.

Chapter 2: Literature Study includes a survey of the literature on health and safety issues in order to substantiate and/or justify the hypotheses formulated.

Chapter 3: Data collection and analysis: The practical component of the study includes questionnaires. The responses are included by means of tables. Employees, Managers, and Health & Safety officials were provided with a list of questions that relate to workplace conditions. Questions are based upon the hypotheses identified and verified in the first two chapters of the research document.

Chapter 4 focuses on a discussion of the data gathered and analyzed in Chapter 3, comparing the practical findings with theoretical hypotheses and literature.

Chapter 5: Conclusions and recommendations are made towards improving workplace health and safety problems discussed in Chapter 1, and encouraging workers and employers to take responsibility for these issues in their workplace.

1. Study Design and Methodology

Health and safety measures have become one of the most important facets of the business world today. Human resources have enjoyed increasing importance as the focus of studies in human well-being and work satisfaction. Indeed, studies have shown how an increase in worker satisfaction ultimately results in an increase in profit for the manager. No longer are workers forced to labor under inhuman conditions. Instead, agencies such as the Institution for Occupational Safety and Health (2007) and the Health & Safety Executive (2007) work for employee safety, health, satisfaction and empowerment. As such, employees are empowered to take control of their work environment, whereas in the past the work environment and manager were often the controlling factors.

However, it has also often been observed how the workplace even today comprises certain hazards for the employee in terms not only of physical, but also of psychological dangers. The subject of this study focuses on these dangers, and how individuals are often inclined to take the risk of these factors to do the work required rather than making their own health safety a priority. This then results in illness, injury, or even death. To investigate the reasons for this tendency, three workplace environments notorious for their hazards to individual health and safety, are considered. These include stress in the office environment, potentially unsafe actions in the construction environment, and physical danger in the beach environment, and specifically in the cockle picking industry. In considering these three environments, the reasons for an individual's failure to place health and safety requirements before workplace requirements are to be determined.

The first step of the study is to hypothesize the various factors involved for individuals who appear to place the importance of work over their own health and safety. A number of hypothetical reasons are drawn up for this purpose. These are divided according to their apparent relevance to the workplace environments to be investigated.

In the office environment, the following hypotheses appear to have the highest relevance in terms of the stress factor:

Individuals may be overloaded with an unreasonable amount of work. The directive of such an individual is to finish the work instead of considering his or her own safety and stress levels. The office worker is generally well informed regarding health and safety standards, but may ignore this under the pressure of finishing the work according to a deadline, for example.

It is possible that office workers are bullied into an unreasonable amount of work that should rightfully be handled by a greater number of employees, or that they are placed under unrealistic time constraints.

If they were introduced to the HS&E department, it is possible that office workers are so involved in attempting to please their superiors and prove their value to the company, that they overlook the need to contact this department with health and safety questions. It is also possible that they are not informed of the exact service of this department, or their rights in this regard.

In the construction environment, the following appear to be relevant:

The above issues of time constraints and bullying play a role in constructions workers potentially disregarding health and safety regulations in favor of faster work completion. This results not only in individual health hazards, but also in physical safety hazards for the entire workforce in the vicinity of the construction project, and for the public using the finished product. The pressure of time and quality factors often results in individuals who do not take the necessary precautions to ensure their own and others' safety.

Construction workers, depending upon the level of work and contract under which they are employed, may lack the in-depth legal knowledge that office workers may be aware of. This… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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