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What is Occupational health and safety?

Occupational health and Safety photo

What is occupational health and safety?

Occupational health and safety (OSH) is a multidisciplinary field that is very concerned with the health, safety, and welfare of people in the workplace or while working as workers in the workplace. Since it is multidisciplinary, OSH OR OHS is related to many disciplines. Those disciplines are occupational medicine and occupational hygiene. OSH promotes the safety of everyone with one business or another within the workplace, including the workers, visitors, clients, contractors, inspectors, etc.

The ILO, the International Labor Organization, promotes occupational safety and health. It organizes World Labour Day yearly and also supports World Safety Day, all in an effort to ensure that employees are treated safely in the work environment.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) reports that over 2 million people are exposed to OHS risks, and globally, more than 2 million people die as a result of work-related accidents, diseases, and illnesses. These incidents have a devastating impact on human lives. Employers are expected to take reasonable care of their employees and ensure that workplace accidents and diseases are thoroughly addressed by implementing various safety programs.

What are workplace hazards?

Workplace hazards are objects, items, situations, or even conditions that exist in the workplace, and they can cause accidents and diseases to employees. They can be biological, chemical, physical factors, or psychosocial risk factors. The employers are mandated to ensure that all workplace hazards are controlled effectively so as not to cause harm. There are a variety of ways that they can get this done, such as getting the hierarchy of hazards control ready in the organization. The various hazard hierarchies of control are Elimination, substitution, Management control, engineering control, and use of Personal protective equipment.

Occupational health and safety legislation.

So many government acts, legislations, regulations, etc., are being promoted from country to country in support of occupational health and safety practices. Though they vary from country to country, the end game is to ensure that the legal side of promoting health and safety is promoted effectively.

Occupational Health and Safety in the USA

In the USA, the OSHA Act of 1970 was established to address workplace hazards and safety. OSHA was established fully in 1971 under the Department of Labor, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., and various offices nationwide. Its sole purpose is to ensure a safe workplace for all. OSHA has a standard that all organizations must comply with, and failure to do so will attract a heavy fine or serious penalty.


Occupational Health and Safety in the U.K.

In the U.K., health and safety legislation is designed and enforced by the health and safety executive HSE under the Health and Safety Act HASAWA 1974.HSE has continued to make other regulations on some aspects or items. For example, on asbestos, etc.

Occupational health and Safety in Australia.

Four of the six states of Australia have laws to support occupational health and safety. These laws have been harmonized to ensure that the right thing is done concerning health and safety in that region. They have enacted the Common Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and standard codes of practice being developed by Safe Work Australia. A harmonized model of the WHS Act is also being implemented in Western Australia.

Occupational health and Safety in India.

The Indian government has the Ministry of Labour to cater to every concern concerning safety and health. The ministry is responsible for formulating policies that ensure the protection of workers and the work environment.

Occupational Health and Safety in Nigeria

Occupational health and safety in Nigeria have their own, too. The Federal Ministry of Labour pays overall attention to matters concerning the health and safety of the workers in the work environment. They also formulate policies and ensure that workers are treated in the way they should at their workplace and that workplaces are healthy for all. They have the Nigeria Factory Act that addresses the issues of safety in the workplace.

Occupational Health and Safety in China

In China, the government, through the Ministry of Health, is responsible for handling all matters concerning occupational disease prevention and the administration of work safety. China has a work safety law that was issued on November 1, 2022. In 2018, they established a national health commission, which is saddled with the responsibility of national policies on health, including the National Occupational Disease Prevention and Control Plan.

Occupational health and safety in Canada

In Canada, all worker’s affairs are covered by the federal labor codes depending on the various sectors in which they work. Those being covered by the federal code are mining, transportation, and the federal government, and they ensure that all workers and employers abide by the legislation of the province in which they work. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety is mandated to promote a safe and healthy environment and help prevent work-related injuries and sickness CCOHS. CCOHS is an agency of the government of Canada that the Canadian government is creating.

OHS courses

There are plenty of health and safety courses that individuals can take depending on their location. There are prominent ones globally, including the NEBOSH, IOSH Programs, and OSHA courses. These courses are geared towards imparting safety knowledge to all concerned so that a healthy, happier, and safe work environment is maintained and sustained effectively.

OHS jobs.

There are so many occupational safety and health jobs all over the world. But they all follow the same approach. Health and safety officers in America must comply with OSHA standards to function effectively as professionals. In the U.K., occupational health and safety professionals must abide by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to function well. Many other health and safety regulations exist in these countries, apart from the OSHA and HASAWA 1974.

Importance of Occupational health and safety

OHS are crucial in the workplace and even beyond the work environment. Their primary aim is to protect employees from workplace accidents, injuries, and exposure to harmful substances. Even though accidents can be unpredictable, it is still the duty of the employer to ensure that all hazards leading to accidents can be minimized and managed effectively to prevent accidents from happening.

Below are some of the critical importance of occupational health and safety

  • It improves employee morale and participation at work.
  • It improves productivity at work.
  • OHS bring about reduced costs associated with accidents and injuries.
  • Lower insurance premiums are due to fewer workplace accidents and workers’ compensation claims.
  • It helps identify risks and hazards that would have caused accidents on time and mitigate them to prevent harm.


Occupational safety being enforced well in the workplace will bring many dividends to the employer and to the employee. Many countries are doing a lot to ensure an employee remains safe in a work environment. Most of them design and promote policies and frameworks in that direction. The workers are educated on how to be secure in their work environment.

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