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The Human Factor As A Key Piece In The Prevention Of Occupational Hazards

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The human factor as a key piece in the prevention of occupational hazards

Introduction

Working conditions are understood, any aspect of work with possible negative consequences for workers’ health. Working conditions include three variables: the environment, the task and the worker that must be valued as a whole and not in a divisible way.

The environment together with the task constitute the technical factor of working conditions. The worker variable constitutes the human factor.

Throughout the history of occupational risk prevention, we have seen how companies have overlooked the human factor since the priority was in the technical factors. According to a national survey of working conditions carried out in Spain by the National Institute of Safety and Hygiene at work (INSHT) when asking workers about the main causes of accidents at work, almost 47% responded that they were dueto ‘distractions, carelessness, misfortunes, lack of attention and recklessness’.

Companies have dedicated many resources to improve facilities, advance technology as well as in the purchase of new equipment, which have reduced the accident rate. It is now where the human factor must be taken into account in achieving the maximum reduction in the accident index. Well, it is so important.

Human factor

The study of the worker variable, which encompasses the physiological and psychological characteristics, as well as their habits and customs and the degree of training or training received.

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The human factor variable has been taking a very important weight regarding occupational risk prevention. 

When looking for the causes that have caused an accident, it has gone from looking for causes in factors external to the worker to examine if it can be due to the worker. As when a risk assessment was done, through a thorough analysis of the work teams that have been used in the company as well as the state of the facilities but overlooking the personal characteristics of each person who occupy eachjob. Human action is decisive for the company’s technical system to function properly. Although adequate technical measures are established in a company to prevent occupational risks, the conscious or unconscious action of a person can disrupt the expected results

The characteristics of the worker are analyzed in two blocks such as aptitude and attitude.

The aptitude

When a person agrees to a job, a professional qualification and personal qualification are required to perform work in good conditions, both from a perspective of their professional qualification as well as from an perspective of safety and health at work. In short, aptitude refers to the characteristics of the worker who report on the ability to do ’and‘ know how to do ’properly their task.

The work doctors are responsible for determining whether the individual psychophysical capacities of a specific worker are suitable for his work without this being a risk to his own health or that of third parties.

Health surveillance is carried out by the health professionals of the prevention service and these will be the ones who rule the aptitude or not for the development of the tasks of the position based on their professional category and the position assigned within the company.

In the field of occupational health, a medical examination, it is not only a series of medical tests to assess the person’s health, but those medical tests are done based on the risks inherent to the workplace in the development of thetasks entrusted. According to article 32 of the General Public Health Law, it is intended with occupational health ‘to achieve the highest degree of physical, psychic and social well -being of workers in relation to the characteristics and risks derived from the workplace, the work environment andThe influence of this in its environment, promoting preventive, diagnostic, treatment, adaptation and rehabilitation of the pathology produced or related to work ‘. 

That is why the medical certificate or health report issued by the Health Public Service doctor is not accepted as valid. Because the healthcare professional issues a report on the health status of the petitioner, but as a patient, because he does not know what functions he will perform in his future work and above all he does not know the occupational risks to which he will be exposed.

The assessment of the ability to work is not justified in any case as a method of selecting the individuals more capable to perform a task or to identify people resistant to possible risks present in the job. In addition, the evaluation requires the full independence of those who perform it and must be guided by the principles of intimacy (the information that is collected is strictly necessary for the valuation function) and confidentiality (the information issued to the company must referonly to the capacity or inability to work).

The attitude

Informs how the worker develops the task. The attitude that the worker adopts in the realization of his tasks will depend on his disposition as the mood. In this way even if worker has the knowledge, technical preparation and adequate protection equipment, he can with reckless actions cause an accident. That is why control is required by those responsible for preventive matters, which must correct workers whose attitude is considered as a risk factor.

In addition to training it is necessary that knowledge lead to attitudes and that these attitudes become safer behaviors.

Prevention technicians have tried to find a recipe for human behavior but unfortunately, it does not exist. Because human behavior is quite complex since it depends on so many factors that it would be impossible to establish a pattern.

One of the many approaches to account for human behavior is the social learning approach. The main advantage is simplicity, it is very practical to have a strategic vision of our actions and that includes the behavioral, cognitive and systemic perspectives.

This model explains the behavior of workers within an organization based on three elements: the person, their behavior and the situation in which the subject is immersed. The interaction of these three elements elements is what is called ‘reciprocal determinism’. If the actions designed by the prevention services are only focused on the change in workers’ behavior through training activities or through a campaign, without taking into account that the subject is immersed in a system with which these activities interacts may becondemned to failure.

Three phases can be raised in attitudinal and behavioral processes related to labor risk:

  • Phase 1: Risk identification. It corresponds to the entrepreneur to identify the risks present in the company through the appropriate scientific-technical criteria. On the other hand, there is the perception that workers of the risks that exist in the company that can coincide or not with the identification made by the entrepreneur.
  • Phase 2: Risk Assessment. It is the entrepreneur who is obliged to plan preventive action from risk assessment. To achieve adequate attitudes that are not a source of problems regarding labor risk, the risks in which the different sectors or groups of the company will have to participate together.
  • Phase 3: Establishment of risk minimization procedures. Law 31/1995 provides that the employer must eliminate the risks in origin as much. This entails preventive actions that workers should carry out during the performance of their work and that the employer must make them known and learned by all those affected by risks, whether they are general or specific.

For the actions to be safe, 2 conditions must be given:

  • That workers have the ability to carry out tasks safely. Which implies the knowledge of the risks and procedures to avoid risks, correct them or minimize them if they cannot be completely eliminated.
  • Situational determinants (equipment, facilities, management and communication systems) must allow actions to be safe.
  • Shein, in his theory of planned change, exposes a series of assumptions about change:
  • Any change implies not only learning something new, but forgetting something that is already more integrated into the individual’s personality and social relations.
  • No change is achieved at least that there is sufficient motivation to be operated, if motivation does not exist, inducing it can be one of the great difficulties of any change process.
  • Change in organization (processes, incentive systems, structures) occur only through changes in key members. Which implies that all change is mediated through individual changes.
  • Most of the changes that are operated in adults imply changes in attitude, values and images that people have in themselves. The abandonment of the type of responses that the company is used to giving in these areas is, at first, inherently painful and threatening.
  • Change is a cycle of multiple stages.

Health promotion in the workplace

This refers to the common effort of entrepreneurs, workers and society as a whole for improving the health and employment of workers. The means to be able to achieve it are:

  • Improvement of the organization of work and work environment.
  • Promotion of workers’ participation in healthy activities.
  • Promote healthy lifestyle.
  • Foster personal development.

 

Prevention must consider new challenges within health and safety and direct efforts beyond cataloging and determining the risk. To achieve this change of vision, it is necessary to provide resources that promote safe behaviors, as well as implement healthy attitudes and behaviors that are valid for the work environment and for the social dimension of the person.

If we are clear that the human factor is the central pillar of the company on which the factors of competitiveness and efficiency are supported, all activities aimed at achieving a healthy environment such as transmitting healthy habits to workers will result in a common benefit.

The promotion of health and well -being in the workplace has a direct impact on the decrease in diseases and costs derived from them as well as an increase in productivity.

The success of a company depends on having healthy workers who work in a favorable environment. With the promotion of health in the workplace, it contributes to the workers feeling better and healthier, which translates into:

  • Descent of absenteeism.
  • Reduction of presentism, go to sick work and not yield as when you are healthy.
  • Greater motivation.
  • Productivity improvement.
  • Greater ease for hiring.
  • Lower staff rotation.
  • Transmit a positive image of the company aware with the health of its workers.

 

According to several studies carried out in relation to the cost-effectiveness, it has been demonstrated that the investment in health promotion in the workplace is very profitable since they can influence for example, the decrease in absenteeism or also in health costs betweenothers.

In short, it can be affirmed that a healthy work environment is essential in addition to achieving the health of workers causes a positive contribution to productivity, labor motivation, the fluidity of labor relations, the spirit of work, the satisfaction at work andThe quality of life in general.

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