Health & Safety at Workplace. Work Environment, Health Factors

Essay, 2013

14 Pages


Table of Contents


Work Environment – Health Factors

Specialized Health Doctors

The psychosocial environment in the workplace

Basic factors on work improvement

Health at Work – Basic Rules/Standards

Obligations & Rights of the Employees



Reference List


The term health and safety at work affect the well-being not only of employees but also the well –being of temporarily employees, staff contractors, visitors and any other people in the workplace.

According to the World Health Organization (Bebek & Viegas, 2005), Health at work aims to maintain the working capacity of employees, to improve work and make the work environment compliant with health and safety rules. In addition, it promotes the development of the organization and culture of work towards health and safety.

Therefore, Health and Safety at Work promotes the positive social climate and smooth operation of a business and can increase its productivity (Taylor, 2005).

Nowadays, health and safety at work is institutionalized in all developed countries and should be a prime concern for all organizations, since every professional occupation, depending on its nature and the environment where it takes place, can exert harmful effects on employees' health, manifested either as an occupational accident or as an illness resulting from work (Tombs, 2006). By adopting the adequate measures and policies, the right to work can be ensured for all citizens, but in addition the right to safety and health at work is also guaranteed.

The present paper will analyze the health factors in the work environment and how these factors can improve work and performance. In addition, the role of work Health Doctor will be discussed. Furthermore, the basic rules and standards of Health at Work and the obligations and rights of the employees, as set by the relevant legislation, are presented. Finally, proposals are made addressing to the primary, secondary and University education as well as businesses on how to improve education/training and implementation of Health at work.

Work Environment – Health Factors

Particularly in the working environment, there are many factors affecting human health. For example, specific damages have been attributed to the toxic effects of chemical agents. Effects have been measured after exposure to certain noise levels. Finally, it was found that the risk of work increases when certain ergonomic requirements and security conditions are not met (Nash, 2004). However, there are some "syndromes" that while afflicting employees, their families, and cause a financial burden to the business etc. it was not possible - despite attempts to identify some physical factors as root causes or to find an organic substrate. These syndromes are characterized mainly by body complaints which do not have physical background, accompanied by depressive feelings, anxiety, excessive worries, people may suffer from palpitations, abdominal pain, muscle aches, shortness of breath, headaches and other complaints (Juergens, 2004). The conditions in the workplace, the type of work, the management and even relationships with colleagues or superior authority, freedom to carry out the work, personal satisfaction from the job, insecurity and the kind of personality employee are some of the factors implicated in the occurrence of these syndromes (Kogi, 2006).

Some called it «Hypersensitivities to many chemicals” (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, MCS – ILO, 2001) and attributed the specific symptoms of exposure to low concentrations of toxic chemical factors. However, the same symptoms were presented by people who were not exposed to chemical agents. Thus, researchers talked about "Environmental Somatization Syndrome, ESS” (Bennett, 2002). Then they talked about "Idiopathic Environmental Intolerances” (ILO, 2001). Some synonyms from the literature are: "Ecological Illness", "Environmental Illness", "20th Century Disease" and others. The most recent terminology in an effort to give a more accurate definition of the symptomatology that accompanies these syndromes is «Individually Determined Response, IDR» (Frick, 2004a).

Based on the above, it is understood that the work environment does not affect employees’ health only when conditions are unfavorable for example poor facilities, deleterious / toxic factors, etc., but also when body complaints are due to work and the social relations in the workplace.

Specialized Health Doctors

A medical work specialist, during his work, will have to face many health problems at work. Furthermore, within the welfare state, it is anticipated that a small number of people with "special needs" will be employed and these people should be treated with extreme care. Finally, the basic legislation refers to the specialty of the particular medical work and provides the responsibilities of the work of health doctor. More specifically (Frick & Zwetsloot, 2007) the responsibilities are the following: Physiology and psychology of work, ergonomics etc., integration and reintegration of disadvantaged people in the production process and assessing the suitability of employees for the job.

All these require relevant training. During his/her specialization the medical work specialist learns to treat pathological conditions which have organic substrate. However, s/he seldom comes in contact with mental illnesses because these patients are addressed to the relevant doctors and thus s/he does not have the opportunity to follow their diagnostic and therapeutic approach. Certainly mental disorders belong to the competent psychiatrists and psychologists, but acknowledging that they have to be addressed to the competent doctors and their reintegration in the workplace after or during treatment is a very important field of knowledge and skills which, among others, a work physician should have (Frick & Zwetsloot, 2007). However, there are not only the mental disorders that should be recognized / treated in the workplace but also stressful situations which are created in them and which can cause mental disorders, particularly in vulnerable individuals.

The psychosocial environment in the workplace

The interaction of the individual and the environment manifested by psychological and normal viral responses signals the health relationship of the employee with the psychosocial environment in his/her work (Stewart,2005). The mode of reaction and response of the individual to environmental stimuli is determined both genetically and from his/her previous experiences during his/her childhood, and adulthood. In particular the way a person reacts changes constantly due to new experiences. Therefore, this dynamic interplay of the individual - environment is the basis for individual adjustment and appears to contribute into it genetic factors and environment (experiences from childhood and experiences of adult life) in varying degrees (Rosenman et al., 2006). The work environment represents only one part of the overall environment. However, paid work occupies an important role for self-esteem, but also of the social status of the individual. In addition, studies have also shown that the frustration of parents from their work can affect negatively the children.

Therefore, a result accrues in the next generation. For this reason, there have been several efforts to study the extent and manner in which psychosocial factors in the workplace can affect health (Tombs, 2006). While there have been studies of health effects from changes in working conditions and work organization. Last psychosocial factors have begun to attract the attention of doctors working in several countries For this reason, there have been several efforts to study the extent and manner in which psychosocial factors in the workplace can affect health. At the same time, there have been studies on the impact of health effects from changes in working conditions and work organization. Last psychosocial factors have begun to attract the attention of doctors working in several countries.

Basic factors on work improvement

There are some basic factors that contribute to the improvement of work conditions and on ensuring the health and safety of employees.

The institutional and legislative framework is the legislative shield of safe and healthy working in full harmonization with EU directives and with additional measures. The law requires all companies with more than 50 employees to provide for their personal safety and technical services a medical work physician. To achieve the goal of improving the working conditions the three interested members have basic obligations and roles: the State, Employers and Employees.

The degree and the completeness of responsiveness of the parties to their obligations provide the resultant improvement in health and safety issues. The foundation of progress in this field is the Social Dialogue (Walters, 2002):


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Health & Safety at Workplace. Work Environment, Health Factors
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Fotini Mastroianni (Author), 2013, Health & Safety at Workplace. Work Environment, Health Factors, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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