Occupational Health and Safety

In the United States, an estimated 4,679 people died on the job in 2010. While In the UK there were 171 fatal injuries at work in 2011, compared with 651 in 1974.  

Occupational health and Safety (OHS) aims at: the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations; the prevention amongst workers of departures from health caused by their working conditions; the protection of workers in their employment from risks resulting from factors adverse to health; the placing and maintenance of the worker in an occupational environment adapted to his physiological and psychological capabilities.

occupational health experts come from a wide range of disciplines and professions including medicine, psychology, epidemiology, physiotherapy and rehabilitation, occupational therapy, occupational medicine, human factors and ergonomics, and many others, advising on a broad range of occupational health matters including how to avoid particular pre-existing conditions causing a problem in the occupation, correct posture for the work, frequency of rest breaks, preventative action that can be undertaken, and so forth.

Workplace hazards

Workplace hazards can be categorized as:

Physical hazards:

Phisical Hazards

  • Hearing loss (the most common work-related injury in the United States),
  • Falls is a common cause of occupational injuries and fatalities, especially in construction, extraction, transportation, healthcare, and building cleaning and maintenance
  • Machines have moving parts, sharp edges, hot surfaces and other hazards with the potential to crush, burn, cut, shear, stab or otherwise strike or wound workers if used unsafely.

Biological hazards:


  • Includes infectious microorganisms such as viruses and toxins produced by those organisms such as anthrax.
  • influenza, for example, affects a broad population of workers. Outdoor workers, including farmers, landscapers, and construction workers, risk exposure to numerous biohazards, including animal bites and stings, urushiolfrom poisonous plants, and diseases transmitted through animals such as the West Nile virus and Lyme disease.
  • Health care workers, including veterinary health workers, risk exposure to blood-borne pathogens and various infectious diseases, especially those that are emerging.
  • Dangerous chemicals can pose a chemical hazard in the workplace. There are many classifications of hazardous chemicals, including neurotoxins, immune agents, dermatologic agents, carcinogens, reproductive toxins, systemic toxins, asthmagens, pneumoconiosis agents, and sensitizers. This may be causing cancer.

Psychosocial hazards


include risks to the mental and emotional well-being of workers, such as feelings of job insecurity, long work hours, and poor work-life balance.

 Hazard identification

Hazard identification is an important step in the overall risk assessment and management process. It is where individual work hazards are identified, assessed and controlled/eliminated as practically possible.

Due to legalities, technology, and other requirements changes, hazard control is updated to be a dynamic program of prevention.

Hazard identification should cover all activates / processes/steps / instructions of the organization, other organizations whom interactions are required, and extends to surrounding environment.

While conducting the process of Hazard Identification, Sufficient and realistic inputs should be collected through interviews with people subjected to the hazard, analysis of previous accidents/incidents, work structure, environment, work reports, and wherever data intelligence applies.

It is important to assure that collected data are archived in a retrievable manner, the electronic filing suggests better mapping and search capabilities when compared to paper filing. In all cases, it is important that the organization keeps a lively record of identified hazards as it will be utilized as foundations of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) management system.

Refer the below example:


Risk assessment

The Qatari Labor Law demands that a risk assessment and hazard identification should be carried out for all works activities, so as to be able to manage risk levels to the lowest possibility.

This assessment should:

  • Identify the hazards
  • Identify all affected by the hazard and how
  • Evaluate the risk
  • Identify and prioritize appropriate control measures

The calculation of risk is based on the likelihood of the harm being realized and the severity of the consequences. Which should be reported as a quantitative assessment (ex. by assigning low, medium and high likelihood and severity with integers and multiplying them to obtain a risk factor), and/or qualitatively as a description of the circumstances by which the harm could arise.

The assessment should be recorded and reviewed periodically and whenever there is a significant change to work practices. The assessment should include practical recommendations to control the risk. Once recommended controls are implemented, the risk should be re-calculated to determine if it has been lowered to an acceptable level. Also In the event of an incident, risk should be re-assessed, the controls should lower risk by one level, i.e., from high to medium or from medium to low.

refer the below example:


by Tarik Altoubasi FCMI IQA 

References: Wikipedia (Occupational safety and health), International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO)

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