Employers should not skimp on workers’ safety
Many workers face health and safety risks, whether they work in an office or on a construction site. While it seems that, lately, more importance is being given to psychological issues tied to workplace health and safety, many workers are still risking life and limb in incidents at the workplace.
I am not going to beat around the bush. In our country, health and safety management is still lacking at many places of work, needlessly putting workers at risk.
The responsibility of ensuring that workers are protected from risks that can be avoided is shared by both the employer and the workers themselves. Some employers do not implement health and safety programmes at work because, in their words, these programmes cost money. Effective health and safety programmes inform workers of the benefits of good practice at work. When business owners understand the impact that accidents have on their profit margin they are likely to be more inclined to implement initiatives that safeguard their employees.
The Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) must ensure that the laws are enforced. One must, however, ask: is OHSA being vigilant? Is it making random spot checks on places of work? I was recently driving in the direction of the Mqabba bypass when I saw two black workers balanced on a wooden plank six storeys high. I thought to myself, where are the OHSA inspectors?
If employers fail to see the importance of health and safety at the place of work then OHSA, which, in my opinion, must increase its human and other necessary resources, should fine those employers who are failing to fulfil their legal obligations.
While workers in a large company can turn to the union for support when their employer fails to implement health and safety procedures, workers who are employed by a plasterer or an electrician are at a disadvantage.
An unsafe workplace implies to the employees that their employer does not value them. Workers on a minimum wage are at the highest risk of accident. On the other hand, skilled workers are likely to find alternative jobs at places of work where they are taken care of.
Over and above this, those who expose their workers to risk are risking their financial status. That is because, at one time or another, there could be a tragic accident at work that will lead to numerous sessions at Court and legal expenses that could bankrupt the business.