When you run a company you are responsible for complying with the requirements of occupational health and safety laws and regulations, by ensuring that the enterprise maintains a healthy and safe working environment, protecting the health and safety of your staff and other people who may be affected by their work. But how well are you managing your responsibilities? Are you aware that failure to comply with health and safety requirements can have serious consequences for both the company and individuals? Sanctions include fines, imprisonment and disqualification.
Accidents, injuries and deaths take a heavy toll in developing countries, particularly in hazardous activities such as agriculture, mining, fishing, logging and construction work. The workers that are most affected are often the poorest and least protected ones; children, women, and migrants. Information systems on occupational accidents are not standardized worldwide. Due to lack of proper recording and notification systems especially in developing countries, are the number of workplace accidents underreported. Global estimates made by ILO (the International Labour Organization) and WHO (World Health Organization) show that occupational problems in developing countries were much bigger than earlier believed, and that the figures of fatal and non-fatal workplace accidents were greatly underestimated.
Especially in the informal sector in developing countries, where small and micro-enterprises make a significant contribution in generating employment, the majority of the workers operate under unhealthy and unsafe working environments. They also lack social protection, and the basic health and welfare services. For many of the workers are their home and workplace the same place, and most of them experience daily precarious and unsafe working and living conditions, which often result in poor health and vulnerability to diseases.
It is a commonly used argument that poor countries and poor companies cannot afford to take safety and health measures, - but no country or company will in the long run benefit from a low level of safety and health. The awareness about long-term effects of poor and hazardeous workings conditions are low especially among small and micro business owners. These hazardeous working conditions do not only harm their workers by giving them poor health and the inabilitiy to work efficently, but also harm the company's productivity and income.
In industrialized countries where information on health and safety requirements are wellknown - and must be followed - we find that the SMEs, often acknowledged as the backbone of the nations' economy, perform occupational safety records that do not compare with the larger companies. Fatal accidents and incidents tend to happen more often in the SMEs.
WHO estimates that there are only 10-15% of all workers in the world that have access to a basic standard of occupational health service. Furthermore, around the world more than 2 million people die from work-related accidents or -diseases every year. By estimates, the figures also show more than 270 milllion work-related accidents and 180 million work-related diseases.
It is not acceptable! Start improving your workplace health and safety today!