The Lack of Safety and Health Conditions at Work and the Costs for Stakeholders

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By A. Costa Tavares

It is common knowledge that human beings do not perform their functions, in any organization, in an isolated and compartmentalized way, so when we approach the issue of safety, hygiene and health in the workplace, it should never be directed in an individualist, in which only a certain worker is affected or conditions his own safety through the acts he commits, but in a group relationship where his safety (or lack of it by action or omission) also affects his colleagues and other social groups such as your family (who suffers in a second instance) or customers, suppliers and other publics that interact with the organization.

Investigating the accident that occurred, we found that, in addition to the accident, those who (worker, by the way) depend on it – and in Portugal there is still a lot of dependence on one of the family members -, we found that their family is directly injured in various valences such as:

  • economic dimension (decrease in remuneration, increase in rehabilitation expenses, medication, physiotherapy, property expenses if the accident involves damage to machines or other types of equipment in which the person is at fault, among others)
  • social dimension (if the accident that occurred results in a permanent disability or death whose psychological traumas make your family and friends uncomfortable, so as not to forget your close co-workers, forcing a reformulation of roles, conditioning the search for a second job by direct family members to compensate for the economic loss felt as well as an additional workload on teammates whose worker was affected by the misfortune), and
  • personal dimension (loss of self-esteem, low morale, physical and psychological pain, feelings of guilt, among other symptoms that also affect their immediate family)

In addition to these three dimensions, two others are added:

  • organizational dimension (since as a result of the accident there were stoppage operations in the detection, identification and analysis of the accident with direct costs in productivity, but also in the heavy climate that is generated by consternation and ultimately in the image to the outside, leaving many companies connoted in the eyes of the general public as a result of an accident at work with great media impact)
  • national dimension – Portugal (whose direct and indirect costs with the accident rate are very high, we just need to analyze the number of people who are in clinics and rehabilitation centers, many of them in an inpatient regime, others in an outpatient clinic for months, not to mention years with costs for the National Health Service supported by the state budget and this by the increase of our taxes.

These 5 dimensions (others may exist depending on the case), are, in our view, multidisciplinary, affecting upstream and downstream and conditioning all the parties involved.

As organizations are now inserted in a global market of interdependence, the fact of a prolonged stoppage until safety and health conditions are properly restored will harm, directly or indirectly, other organizations that depend on the output of the organization in question, and they cannot comply with deadlines and other contractual obligations, with economic and financial consequences that will be felt in the medium term.

All this is interconnected in a complex web of interactivity and interdependencies in a global and competitive market.

Strategies for prevention, awareness, work organization, supervision, leadership, planning, cooperation, advice, guidance, among many others, can minimize what we mentioned above with gains for all of us!…

Senior Technician of Safety, Hygiene and Health at Work. Lecturer, trainer and consultant on OSH and Human Resources Management and Work Psychology. Cascais Municipality Board. Member of the CMC Workers Committee

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