Workplaces are found to directly impact the physical and mental health of people and employers are well advised to ensure that the workplace provided by them only impacts their employees’ general health in a positive manner! We discuss here aspects of workplaces that need attention, though not exhaustively, to gain a healthy workforce which is more productive and less prone to absenteeism. Apart from the legal tenets, employers generally respect the fact that absenteeism affects delivery standards and health is wealth in the third person also – lest too much sickness among the employees should result in the organization itself turning sick.
Temperature: The temperature settings required for physical and sedentary work differ and many employers find that people have individualized preferences for what they define as comfortable temperature. It may be possible in smaller workplaces for people to figure out a golden mean and choose a satisfactory setting that is close to the preferences of everyone, while in larger workplaces, people may need to adjust their clothing to optimize their feelings of comfort.
Ventilation: This is a crucial aspect of ensuring the health of employees as poor air circulation helps to transmit infections like flu and cold, while polluted/contaminated air could affect the health of every person in the room. On the other hand, ensuring the circulation of fresh and cool air could increase the stamina and comfort levels of the workers, resulting in better output of work – and improved ROI.
Extreme Conditions: Where the work involves exposure to high levels of sunlight, heat/cold, noise or humidity, it is necessary for the employer to consider aspects like the type of body activity, preferable clothing for protection and the length of time for which the worker can bear to be exposed to such conditions. Measures to control the extreme conditions, through interventions like shuttering, ventilation, insulation, heating, ear plugs or humidity control, need serious consideration. While workers may be chosen for their fitness to work in such conditions, they may be provided with ample supervision, adequate training in precautionary measures, better breaks, protective clothing, fluids to combat dehydration.
Lighting: The work environment needs to be well-lit with the availability of emergency lighting/back-up power in case of sudden failures. The light or the sudden absence of it should not be allowed to result in any kind of hazard in the workplace.
Disposal of Waste & Cleanliness: The office and its furniture and fittings needs to be clean and waste should be disposed in an appropriate manner, in the case of normal waste or with disposables which create environmental, chemical, biological or radiation hazards.
Working Space: The need for working space needs to be determined based upon the nature of work. The workplace should make it possible for the worker to make a quick getaway in case of emergency. The construction of the office space needs to provide solid support and stability and protection from foreseeable risks arising from the nature and type of work being undertaken in that space. Suitable sanitary facilities and changing rooms, if needed, have to be provided for men and women as also a space for dining. All such facilities must consider the needs of people with special needs, if required.
Some of the important considerations include the following:
Most workplaces today put in place all these preventive measures, and take up positive steps like forming weight-reduction teams, providing stress busting measures, imparting better knowledge about keeping communicable diseases at bay and generally taking a sincere and committed interest in the health of their employees.
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