GESAB has something that will surprise you (chapter 4)

Safety and risk prevention comes first. Before addressing issues of efficiency and effectiveness in day to day, we must ensure that persons working in an area are safe and that continued use of the workplace will not undermine their welfare. Let’s take a look back at history:

Occupational safety and health (OSH) is a cross-disciplinary area concerned with protecting the safety, health and welfare of people engaged in work or employment. The goals of occupational safety and health programs include fostering a safe and healthy work environment. OSH may also protect co-workers, family members, employers, customers, and many others who might be affected by the workplace environment.

Occupational safety and health can be important for moral, legal, and financial reasons. Moral obligations would involve the protection of employee’s lives and health. Legal reasons for OSH practices relate to the preventative, punitive and compensatory effects of laws that protect worker’s safety and health. OSH can also reduce employee injury and illness related costs, including medical care, sick leave and disability benefit costs. OSH may involve interactions among many subject areas, including occupational medicine, occupational hygiene, public health, safety engineering, industrial engineering, chemistry, health physics, ergonomics and occupational health psychology.

Since 1950, the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have shared a common definition of occupational health. It was adopted by the Joint ILO/WHO Committee on Occupational Health at its first session in 1950 and revised at its twelfth session in 1995. The definition reads:

“Occupational health should aim at: 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 capabilities; and, to summarize, the adaptation of work to man and of each man to his job.

“The main focus in occupational health is on three different objectives: (i) the maintenance and promotion of workers’ health and working capacity; (ii) the improvement of working environment and work to become conducive to safety and health and (iii) development of work organizations and working cultures in a direction which supports health and safety at work and in doing so also promotes a positive social climate and smooth operation and may enhance productivity of the undertakings. The concept of working culture is intended in this context to mean a reflection of the essential value systems adopted by the undertaking concerned. Such a culture is reflected in practice in the managerial systems, personnel policy, principles for participation, training policies and quality management of the undertaking.”

—Joint ILO/WHO Committee on Occupational Health