AN ASSESSMENT OF THE EFFECT OF OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY PRACTICES AT THE TARKWA GOVERNMENT HOSPITAL

ABSTRACT
The study sought to assess occupational health and safety practices at the Tarkwa Government Hospital. Case study research design was adopted for the study. Through the use of stratified and simple random sampling procedures, 144 hospital employees were selected to participate in the study. The mixed method was used to gather the requisite data for the study. The data were analysed through the computation of descriptive statistics such as frequencies, percentages, and mean of distributions. The study among other things found out that, one remarkable general safety and health precaution that has been put in place by the hospital authorities and which cuts across all departments is the policy that every employee of the hospital is to report to the authorities if he or she suspects his/her health has been compromised in any way in the discharge of his/her duties for immediate action to be taken. Again, both employers and employees have respective responsibilities and rights if occupational health and safety is to be effective. However, the respondents indicated that, the occupational health and safety measures put in place at the hospital were not sufficient, and most of the staff were also dissatisfied with the current occupational health and safety measures. The study recommended that hospital administration should organise regular training and workshop for staff on health and safety. Hospital administration should also institute a safety committee which would be constituted with the task of dealing with all occupational health and safety issues for the hospital and should also have a documented manual or policy on its occupational health and safety practices.


CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study
Globally, protection of workers against work-related injuries and illnesses has over the years been an issue of great concern to employees, workers, governments, and the general public (Dessler, 2001). This is because a safe working environment does not only promote the physical, mental and social well-being of workers, but also saves cost associated with medical bills, compensation, work interruption, loss of experienced personnel, and others resulting from accidents at the workplace (Tadesse & Admassu, 2006; Hughes & Phil, 2007). The International Labor Organization (I.L.O) estimates that every year approximately 270 million work-related accidents are recorded worldwide, resulting in the death of some 2 million people (International Labour Organisation, 2005). Apart from the accidents resulting in fatalities, non-fatal accidents at the workplace, in some cases, leave victims with loss of body parts, skin diseases, musculoskeletal and reproductive disorders, cancer, mental and neurological illnesses, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases (Tadesse & Admassu, 2006). Studies have shown that employees in small and medium enterprises are more prone to work-related hazards and risks (Scneider & Becker, 2005). This is partly attributed to inadequate resources, poor technical capacity and ignorance of occupational safety and health (OSH) standards (International Labour Organisation, 2005). The sector also suffers neglect from OSH legislations and services.

In times past, employers were not concerned with the health and safety of their employees at work. An employee was not provided with safety and health equipment and s/he risked getting hurt at work anytime s/he goes about his/her duties. An injured employee in countries like U.S. for example had to litigate to obtain compensation which in most cases was not successful and the cost of doing so even prevented employees from going to court (Dessler, 2001). However, the International Labour Organization made some recommendations in 1959 which provided that occupational health services should be established in or near a place of employment for the purpose of protecting the workers against any health hazards arising out of work or conditions in which it is carried on; contributing towards workers physical and mental adjustment; as well as contributing to the establishment and maintenance of the highest possible degree of physical and mental well being of the workers (Hughes & Phil, (2007).

The employer has responsibility to protect the employees from all health hazards that may pose threat to their safety and health (International Labour Organization 1959). Safety hazards are those aspects of the work environment that have the potential of immediate and sometimes violent harm to an employee; for example loss of hearing, eyesight or body parts, arts, sprains, brushes, bruises, broken bones, burns and electric shock.

In organizations, occupational accidents may arise from three dimensions: the task to be done, for instance malfunctioning machines, lack of protective equipment like working conditions which arise from inadequate lighting, fatigue that comes out of excessive working hours and the employee himself/herself.

The Labour Act (2003), Act 651 of the Republic of Ghana, section 118(I) states that “it is the duty of an employer to ensure that every worker employed by him/her works under satisfactory, safe and healthy conditions. It is noteworthy mentioning that some organizations have placed responsibility for employee health and safety with their Chief Executive Officers. This approach is typical of smaller organizations with threats in this area or with mid-size organizations with few such threats. Large organizations seeing health and safety of their employees do set up safety departments usually under the purview of the human resource management team. For example, in the United States of America, a safety director should be appointed for every two thousand (2000) workers. In India, it is mandatory under the Factories Act (1948) to appoint safety officers in factories with a workforce of one thousand (1,000) or more.

Government plays a significant part in health and safety because it legislates to improve health and safety factors. Trade unions have been more appreciative of health and safety measures than employees they represent. It is easy to see why this is so. The objectives of health and safety initiatives and trade unions both improve the quality of working life of employees. They pressurize employers for better programmes and use their clout to lobby for legislation to improve the health and safety of employees. On the other hand, socially responsible management had active health and safety programmes long before they were made mandatory by law. Some others only complied because they were required to and that too only to meet the minimum requirements of the law (Hsu & Sandford, 2010).

Litwin and Stringer (1968) opine that, quite apart from the willful avoidance of health measures, some employers face the dilemma of ignorance about the consequences of some dangerous working conditions. Furthermore, even where there is knowledge, prohibitive costs could prevent them from doing what is necessary, for example, uranium workers can expect that (10-11%) of their numbers will die of cancer within 10 years. As long as there are no alternative methods and as long as there is a need for uranium, some employees will risk shorter lives in these jobs. That is although work is being done to determine the dangers and to prevent or mitigate the consequences of such works, the costs of some of these preventive programmes are so high that it would not be economically viable to adopt them. Employees today are central to achieving competitive advantages (Cascio, 1986). This reality has led to the need for health institutions and other organisations to link strategic goals and objectives in order to improve health service delivery and develop organizational cultures that foster innovation and flexibility. Health professionals need to be treated as crucial in meeting this aspiration. The key levers (including health and safety of people) of human resource management must be internally integrated with each other and externally integrated with the institution’s strategy to enhance productivity and personal satisfaction.

To be able to do this management has to focus on the immediate workplace, the adjacent communities, the regional environment and the international environment. It must be noted that legislation and changed attitudes towards employees will make safety and health priority areas for organizations. In the organization’s role of “managing bottom lines” they should realize that support and commitment to safety and health is ultimately cost effective.

Typical health hazards to health professionals in their quest to provide healthcare services include toxic and carcinogenic chemicals and dust, often in combination with noise, heat and other forms of stress. Other health hazards include physical and biological agents. The interaction of health hazards and the human organisms can occur either through the senses, by absorption through the skin, by intake into the digestive tract via the mouth or by inhalation into the lungs (Lloyd & Leslie, 2008).

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Item Type: Ghanaian Project Material  |  Attribute: 79 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: GH50  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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