Health News of 2014-08-22

Health, safety and welfare

Ghana Labour Act 2003, Section 118 places an obligation on employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees at work.

The obligation includes general ventilation to ensure air quality, reduction of odours/smells and dust, adequate lighting that is bright enough to allow persons to carry out their work (and in all areas such as stairways, gangways and entrances), and the provision of a reasonably comfortable temperature in the workroom, with emergency lighting being provided where necessary.

Design, layout, space, structure of a building and the condition of traffic routes and floors are vital in ensuring the safety of employees. There must be enough space for people to be able to do their jobs safely.

Cramped conditions can result in accidents and overcrowding can lead to high stress levels. Buildings must be solid, secure and constructed from materials that are appropriate to the work activities and their hazards.

Staircases should be designed to enable safe use; they should not be too steep or slippery and without loose edges to make people trip. There should always be a handrail. Floors and passageways should be in good condition and free of trip hazards such as loose carpeting or uneven tiles.

The employer should provide adequate sanitary conveniences, washing facilities, drinking water, changing facilities and facilities where one could rest and eat meals.

Special arrangements are required for pregnant women, working mothers and people with disability. In compliance with the smoke-free legislation, smoking should not be allowed on the premises.

Safety signs communicate information such as warning of a hazard. To support a safe environment, a standard has been set on the type of safety signs that can be displayed. This helps to make them easier to be identified and understood. There are four categories of safety signs. An example of each category, their usage, colour and shape is detailed below:

Blue/white= must do (you must wear safety boots); green/white= safety information (safe route to fire exit); red/white=must NOT do (no smoking) and yellow/black= H&S- hazard warning (flammable substance). The correct colours, shapes and symbols must always be used for safety signs and the employer must explain the meaning of the signs and ensure that everyone understands what action to take.

Safe working procedures must be devised and these must be explained to staff, along with adequate instruction, training and supervision.

Summing up, workplaces must be designed with the health, safety and welfare of employees in mind. It must be well designed, with adequate light and ventilation, clean and well maintained. Safety signs must be displayed where appropriate and staff must follow the instructions or follow the warning displayed.

By: Isaac Simpson

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