Hazard Essay Example

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Executive Summary

This report is prepared to discuss the different perspectives that have contributed to the development of Occupational Health and Safety in Australia. It also identifies five hazards that are associated with healthcare industry and identifies the codes of practice which can be used for tackling these hazards. Like in any country, Occupational Health and Safety in Australian healthcare industry has developed in terms of laws and human awareness (MacIntosh, MacLean, & Burns, 2007, p.207). In Australia occupational health and safety is controlled and managed by territories and states and not by the Australia Commonwealth (Safe Work Australia, 2013). As a government, Australia has made a great move in 2008 and formally committed to harmonization of occupational health and safety regulations by pending the signature to Intergovernmental Agreement for Regulatory and Operational Reform in Occupational Health and Safety.

Table of Contents

2Executive Summary

41.0 Introduction

42.0 Perspectives that that have contributed to the development of Occupational Health and Safety in Australia

73.0 Comparison and contrast of two models used to explain how accidents are caused

94.0 Hazards in healthcare industry

105.0 Codes of practice used for addressing these hazards

116.0 Conclusion

127.0 References

1.0 Introduction

Workplace safety and health is turning out to be more vital with regard to management. Montgomery & Kelloway (2002) contend that at the period of developing strategies and objectives of an organization, managers ought to bear in mind work-related health and safety practices as a weighty factor. According to Sherriff & Tooma (2010), nearly each organization bears office-based work. Healthcare facilities like any other organization have the several departments, including accounting, records, IT department, pharmacy, wards, surgery offices among others. These departments are storey-buildings that need air conditions, proper keeping of drugs, safe floors and effective lighting because they are occupied by human beings. As times unfold, there is a growing need for portability and flexibility equipment, satisfaction and working outside office environment like mobile clinics (Vogt et al, 2010, p.150). In light of that, this report discusses the different perspectives that have contributed to the development of Occupational Health and Safety in Australia.

2.0 Perspectives that that have contributed to the development of Occupational Health and Safety in Australia

Occupational or workplace health and safety offers a platform for safety and health management in healthcare institutions and enables flexibilities in the form of risk controls (Vogt, et al, 2010, p.149). The positive effects of integrating work-related safety and health management mechanisms at organizational level, both on productivity and the reduction of risks and hazards is presently recognized by organizations, government institutions, employers and employees. However, it should be noted that Occupational Health and Safety in Australia have developed a great deal over time (Smith & Leggat, 2005, p.137). Some of the perspectives that contributed to the development of Occupational Health and Safety in Australia include industrial revolution, labor movements, ILO report and legislations. In the past, healthcare practitioners received inadequate training in the field of occupational safety and health, culminating into complaints thus leading to developments and training in the area.

Smith & Leggat (2005, p.145), think that these development and training were worth due to healthcare practitioners’ responsibility both in the organization and outside the organization. Research on the occupational health and safety started since the times of the industrial revolution. People who moved to Australia in 1850s bought the knowledge, skills and experience of the Industrial Revolution (Smith & Leggat, 2005, p.141). As people embraced industrial injuries increased, leading to need for safety. This situation also led to the necessity to develop more healthcare centers to take care of the injuries. Even as the hospitals and healthcare facilities came up, they too did not escape concerns of occupational health and safety. To voice the concerns of every work, individuals developed labor movement perspectives in reaction to employee issues following the industrial revolution. The first key plan towards OHS policy began in 1985 with the setting up of the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission, a body consisting of Australian federal representatives, Territory and state administrations, employers and the trade union staffs (Nichols, Walters & Tasiran, 2007, p.212).

The powers of NOHSC were rather limited, being mostly charged with promoting OHS consciousness and discussion and offering a forum for Occupational Health and Safety strategies and policies, and national focus. Just as stated earlier, International Labor Organization (ILO) report also led to the development of occupational health and safety in Australia. According to ILO information, 337 million individuals become victims of occupational accidents every year. 2,300,000 people lose their lives due to the diseases or accidents with regards to their work (Quinlan, Bohle & Lamm, 2010). These figures imply that on a daily basis 6,300 people die owing to inadequate steps in making sure occupational health and safety are maintained (Quinlan, Bohle & Lamm, 2010).

From its set up in 1919, the ILO has attached particular significance to the matter of OHS and considered it one of the foundations in realizing social justice. The International Labour Organization Constitution, particularly implies to this as deems and sue “the safeguarding of the employee against disease, sickness and injury emerge from his or her employment” crucial in enhancing working conditions and making sure social peace and justice (Quinlan, Bohle & Lamm, 2010). In any case, the perspective “Decent Work for All” and ILO target builds on respectable working employment and standards.

According to Quinlan, Johnstone & McNamara (2009, p.557), the International Labour Organization has so far embraced a number of caucuses and recommendations so as to eradicate hazards and risks and, in this perspective, to protect both employees and the healthcare institution. Legislation too led to occupational health and safety. Brooks (2001) suitably reports the transforming philosophy behind the developments of health and safety legislation in the healthcare sector from 1970s to early 1990s, in which the preliminary concentration was on the requirement of the standards, to the move towards issues on how best to realize an adequate standard of care. The legislation led to employee involvement.

For instance, Quinlan, Johnstone & McNamara (2009, p.562) observe the repercussions of the development in flexible occupational practices for worker involvement in the occupational health and safety. They claim that structural change related to the fall in union solidity, the development in home-based and casual work, and raises in contracting out have all worked to weaken the offering of occupational health and safety managements (Quinlan, Bohle & Lamm, 2010). They posit that there is a necessity to tackle these concerns in the growth of new and modern regulatory strategies, like in the application of mobile officers to represent employees’ interests in these emerging forms of small-scattered offices. Another reform recently made in the set to develop occupational health and safety is the Safe Work Australia Act. The Safe Work Australia Act is legislation established in 2008 so as to enhance occupational health and safety and employees’ compensation management across Australia (Safe Work Australia, 2013). The Act meant a legitimate partnership between unions, government and industry.

3.0 Comparison and contrast of two models used to explain how accidents are caused

Accidents are described as unexpected incidences that lead to fatalities, injuries, loss of production and even damage to assets and properties (Montgomery & Kelloway, 2002). Preventing accidents is really hard without understanding the causes of the accidents. Montgomery & Kelloway (2002) posit that several attempts have been carried to create theories of accident causation; scholars from various fields of science have tried developing theories of accident causation that can help to recognize, isolate and eventually remove the elements which cause or contribute to accidents. Two of these theories are the domino theory and multiple causation theory.

In 1931, W.H. Heinrich developed an hypothesis of accident cause called domino theory in which he stated that 88 percent of every accidents are normally as a resulted of unsafe acts of individuals, 10 percent by hazardous actions while 2 percent are normally caused by the “act of God” (Wallace & Ross, 2006). He came up with the “five-factor accident sequence” where every factor would activate the next stage in the way of falling dominoes matched in a row. The sequence of the accidental factors start from its ancestry and the social, the employee’s, hazardous act accompanied by physical and mechanical hazard, the accident itself, and lastly injury or damage. Equally that the elimination of a one domino in that row would disrupt the toppling sequence, Heinrich advised that elimination of a single factor would avert the accident and resulting injury or damage (Wallace & Ross, 2006). On the other hand, multiple causation theory is a result of the domino theory, but it hypothesizes that for one accident to take place there could be numerous causal causes, sub-causes and factors, and that particular groupings of these leads to accidents. This theory holds that contributory factors can be categorized into groups, including behavioral and environmental (Wallace & Ross, 2006).

According to Wallace & Ross (2006), behavioral factors consist of those that pertain to the employee like inappropriate attitude, inadequate knowledge, skills and insufficient mental and mental condition.
Wallace & Ross (2006), contend that environmental contributors comprise of inappropriate protection of other risky occupational elements and equipment degradation by means of use and hazardous procedures. Therefore, the major difference between these two theories is that Domino theory argues that there is a single but sequential cause of accidents while multiple causation theory argues for several factors or contributors of the accident.

The domino theory believes that the largest percentage (88%) of the cause is as a result of the individual’s relevance (Wallace & Ross, 2006). Whereas the multiple causal theory believes that accident are caused on equal measures by both behavioral and environmental factors. The Domino theory holds that God also plays some part in the cause of accident, in particular two percent; on the contrary, multiple causation theory does not include God in its causal factors. In Domino’s theory are several factors which work in sequence to produce accident (Wallace & Ross, 2006). Similarly, multiple causation theory combines several cause factors to generate accident. As such, to some extent it can be concluded that both theories have several causal factors contributing to occurrence of accident.

4.0 Hazards in healthcare industry

A hazard is a condition which has a degree of threat to health, life, environment and property. Just like any other industry, healthcare sector workers are also exposed to risks of various hazards (Quinlan, Bohle & Lamm, 2010). Some of these hazards are shared while some are unique to this industry. They include physical hazards, chemical hazards, biological hazards, psychological hazards and radiation hazards (Quinlan, Bohle & Lamm, 2010). In healthcare facility environment, health practitioner normally deals with drugs and medicines on a daily basis, be it in the ward, in the laboratory or even in pharmacy. Some of these drugs are often toxic when used inappropriately. There, toxication is what is called physically injury.

Some of physical hazards that have been reported by published include mental stress, hazards, radiation, noise, and violence among other (Safe Work Australia, 2013). Doctors frequently conduct x-rays which expose their lives to radiation, at times patient becomes violent at attacks the doctors and even slippery flours expose the lives of the patient and healthcare practitioner to risks. There was a significant reduction in physical hazards in Australia in 2013. The Safe Work Australia report of 2013 indicates that chemical substances at 1.0 %, falls and slips at 21.2%, and sound and pressure at 3.8% etc (Safe Work Australia, 2013).

According to Johnstone & King (2008, p.286), Psychological hazards are associated with technological changes, discrimination, malfunctioning tools, tight work schedules, overwork, downsizing, paperwork, understaffing, increased bureaucracy and facility size, violence, demanding and dependent patients, and the patient deaths. The report of 2013 by Safe Work Australia shows that mental stress of 5.8% and body stressing of 39.9% (Safe Work Australia, 2013).

Chemical hazards are materials which can cause damage or harm to the human body, the environment and even property. They consist of medicine, drugs, paints, etc. in this form of hazard; only 1.3 percent injuries were reported (Safe Work Australia, 2013).

Biological hazards comprise biological agents consisting of viruses, parasite, fungi, bacteria, food, and foreign toxin. Fortunately, there was no injury that was reported under this category.

Lastly is the radiation hazard which causes damage or injury to the body cells. The 2013 report by Safe Work Australia indicated 1.4 %.

5.0 Codes of practice used for addressing these hazards

Sound management of physical hazards, chemical hazards, biological hazards, psychological hazards and radiation hazards have to be required for protection of both the healthcare practitioner and the patient (MacIntosh, MacLean & Burns, 2007, p.213. Health safety experts argue that physical hazards can be tackled by proper training on various tools and observing good and safety storage practices. Exit doors should also be marked clearly to enable people escape the building whenever there is fire (MacIntosh, MacLean & Burns, 200, p.209). For psychological hazards, the managers can conduct regularly so that employees can give their opinions concerning work practices.

Similarly, the top management of the organization can set up stress management initiative to help both employees and the management reduces pressure and stress. Quinlan, Bohle & Lamm (2010) argue that chemicals hazards on the other hand need proper handling, in particular the health practitioners must always put on gloves whenever they are handling strong substance which can cause corrosion to them, patient and building. Because of the level of their impact on health of doctors, nurse and patients, the initial center of attention for the action is supposed to be put on whether the packaging is ok or if the lid is closed. Even though there were no biological hazards, which caused injury in 2013, caution should be taken to prevent them from happening in future. Putting on surgical masks and protective gadgets are effective ways of preventing biological hazards (Montgomery & Kelloway, 2002).

6.0 Conclusion

Better health and safety at the workplace is not just important in human context, but also effective ways to make sure that the organizations remain successful and sustainable. Especially, if the health and safety regulation laws are not adhered to by the organizations, accident hazard will increase. Health care facilities may choose to ignore the health and safety practices because of the cost that comes with it, but in the actual sense, the cost that can result after the accident is too big that, it will lead to a loss and damage of the reputation of the company. In summary, it is the obligation of the company to ensure good health and safety of its employees, because it is the employees that drive the healthcare institution to generate profit. However, employees must also be careful with the tools and equipment they use.

7.0 References

Johnstone, R., & King, M. (2008). A responsive sanction to promote systematic compliance?

Enforceable undertakings in occupational health and safety regulation”, Australian Journal

of Labour Law, 21, 280-315.

Nichols, T., Walters, D. and Tasiran, A.C. (2007). Trade unions, industrial mediation and

industrial safety: evidence from the UK. Journal of Industrial Relations,
49, 211-225.

MacIntosh, R., MacLean, D. & Burns, H. (2007). Health in organization: towards a process

based view. Journal of Management Studies, 44, 206-221.

Montgomery, J & Kelloway, K. (2002). Management of Occupational Health and Safety, 2nd

ed., Nelson, Canada.

Quinlan, M., Johnstone, R. & McNamara, M. (2009). Australian health and safety inspectors

perception and actions in relation to changed work arrangements” Journal of industrial

relations, 51(4), 557-75.

Quinlan, M., Bohle, P & Lamm, F. (2010). Managing Occupational Health and Safety: A

Multidisciplinary approach. Plagrave Macmillian

Safe Work Australia. (2013). Key Work Health and Safety Statistics, Australia 2013. Retrieved http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/758/Key-WHS-Statistics-2013.pdf

Sherriff, B. & Tooma, M. (2010). Understanding the Model Work Health and Safety Act. CCH

Australia Ltd. North Ryde. NSW.

Smith, DR & Leggat, PA. (2005). The historical development of occupational health in Australia

part 2: 1970-2000. Journal of Occupational Health, 27, 137-150.

Vogt, J. Leonhardt, J. Köper, B & Pennig, S. (2010). Human factors in safety and business

management. Ergonomics, 53, 149-163.

Wallace, B. & Ross, A. (2006). Beyond Human Error: Taxonomies of Safety Science. London:

CRC Press