Understanding Occupational Health And Safety (OHS)


Occupational health is concerned with promoting and maintaining the highest level of physical, mental, and social well-being of workers in all occupations.

Occupational health and safety (OHS) is a term that has been used for many years to describe work-related health and safety. OHS is the set of policies, processes, and practices that are designed to protect workers from occupational hazards.

Occupational health and safety is a way to protect the health of employees. It is a responsibility that every employer has towards their employees. Employers are required by law to provide a safe workplace for their employees.

The Definition of Occupational Health and Safety

The International Labour Office, together with the World Health Organization Committee, defined the subject in 1950 as:

“The promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations; the prevention amongst workers of departures from health caused by their working conditions; the protection of workers in their employment from risks resulting from factors adverse to health; the placing and maintenance of the worker in an occupational environment adapted to his physiological and psychological equipment; in short, the adaptation of work to man and of each man to his job”

Areas of Occupational Health and Safety

In general, occupational health and safety refers to the prevention of work-related injuries and illnesses. It includes efforts to identify and eliminate hazards in the workplace, train employees in safe practices, and provide medical and other support when injuries or illnesses occur.

Some of the major areas of occupational health and safety include:

  • Hazard identification and assessment
  • Hazard control and prevention
  • First aid and CPR
  • Work-related injury and illness prevention
  • Work-related safety and health management
  • Occupational health and safety training

Risks Associated with Occupational Health and Safety

There are many risks associated with occupational health and safety. Some of these risks are as follows:

Exposure to hazardous materials

Exposure to hazardous materials can occur when working with or around chemicals, fumes, dust or other harmful substances. This exposure can lead to serious health problems, including respiratory illnesses, skin diseases and cancer.

Repetitive motion injuries:

Repetitive motion injuries can occur when workers perform the same task over and over again. These injuries can cause pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in the affected body part.

Slips, trips and falls

Slips, trips and falls are another common type of occupational injury. These accidents can occur due to wet floors, cluttered work areas or loose carpeting. Workers who suffer a slip, trip or fall can sustain serious injuries, such as broken bones or concussions.

Manual handling

Lifting or carrying heavy objects can lead to back injuries if not done properly.

Musculoskeletal disorders

These can be caused by sitting or standing in the same position for long periods of time.

Eye strain

This can be caused by looking at a computer screen for long periods of time.

Benefits of Occupational Health and Safety

Occupational health and safety (OSH) is a way to protect workers from harm while they are performing their job. The benefits of occupational health and safety are numerous and include reducing millions of injuries each year, protecting workers from serious injury, and improving workplace productivity. There are a number of different benefits to consider when designing and implementing an occupational health and safety program, including:

Reducing injuries

Occupational health and safety can help to reduce the number of injuries caused by the workplace. By understanding the types of injuries and how to prevent them, employers can create an environment that is conducive to safe work.

Improved Employee Safety

An effective OSH program can also improve employee safety. By teaching employees how to perform their jobs safely, companies can reduce the risk of injuries and accidents.
Reduced Costs

An effective OSH program can also reduce costs. By preventing injuries and accidents, businesses can avoid expensive damage and repairs.

Improved Productivity

An effective OSH program can also improve productivity. By helping to prevent accidents, workers can stay on the job longer and produce more products.

Functions of an Occupational Health Service

These are some of the functions of an Occupational Health Service:

  • Work environment monitoring – based on the information from the orientation exercise, a walk-through of the workplace is conducted together with interviews with staff. Surveillance and spot checks will be carried out if necessary.
  • Informing employers, management and workers about work-related health hazards – communication with those responsible for implementing prevention and control measures and those affected.
  • Health risk assessment – information obtained during surveillance and from other sources, such as exposure limit values, epidemiological information and exposure data, should be taken into account to identify the potential risks to workers.
  • Worker health surveillance – this includes pre-employment and periodic health examinations, return-to-work examinations after an absence, and health examinations when leaving the enterprise.
  • Prevention and control initiatives include using a team to develop effective controls to reduce the risk of illness.
  • First aid services and emergency preparedness – although first aid treatment is traditionally the responsibility of an occupational health service, it can also be provided in cooperation with workers.
  • Occupational health care, general preventive and curative services – this section covers the provision of diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitation services to workers affected by work-related injuries or diseases.
  • Adapting the work to the worker – it may be possible to modify the workplace, equipment and working environment so that the worker can do their job more effectively and with less risk of injury.
  • Information, education and training – occupational health services should provide relevant information, education and training to workers.
  • Health promotion activities – these can be integrated into the tasks of occupational health services to improve workers’ health.
  • Data collection and retention – data on all activities must be properly and securely stored and retained.

Tips for Occupational Health and Safety

To finish off, here are a few tips to consider regarding OHS at work sites:

  • Have a written safety & Alcohol/Drug.
  • Recognize the hazards of your work.
  • Identify and correct risks.
  • Plan and implement safe work practices.
  • Make sure your workplace is safe and free from hazards.
  • Maintain records of occupational health and safety incidents.
  • System for reporting safety risks to the supervisor and a rewards programme for reporters.
  • Train employees.
  • Make sure employees are informed about their health and safety rights.
  • Encourage employees to take safety precautions, such as wearing safety gear and using safety equipment etc.


There is no one-size-fits-all solution to a worker’s safety. Occupational health and safety should be taken seriously, and each company should have a plan tailored to its unique needs. If your company does not have an OHS plan in place, this could lead to a catastrophic event for your employees, customers and the company as a whole.

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