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Business ethics

Business Ethics

Walt Whitman wrote ' All comes by the body, only health puts you in rapport with the universe' (Leaves of Grass).

When people are really healthy they work to full capacity. That's when they delight customers, have the best ideas, feel capable of facing challenges. Positive health promotion benefits everyone - people respond through enlightened self-interest.

Modern health and safety legislation has its origin during the Industrial revolution. Since then the development of industry and the massive flowering of technology have led to a greater need for health and safety control. Providing safe conditions at work is no longer a matter of common sense, if ever it was.

Accidents need to be recorded if they result in lost time at work. Non-fatal injury cases that do not result in lost workdays also need to be recorded if they result in employee termination, transfer or medical treatment beyond simple first aid. If the injury is so minor that only first aid is necessary, then it does not need to be reported. The omission of minor accidents from the reporting requirements undoubtedly is a relief to employers because paperwork is reduced.

Most full time employees are covered by Worker's Compensation insurance, which provided benefits to employees injured in work accidents. Benefits are provided also when there has been a gradual development of health problem (work-related illness).

For a company to understand better Health and Safety Needs, strategic planning has to take place. This will not only provide a better understanding of where the problem lies but it will also provide long-term solutions for the well being of employees.

Such strategic planning should include:

Ø Sickness absence data

Ø Staff turnover figures

Ø Exit interviews

Ø Treatment records from company health insurance claims

Ø Usage patterns of existing support services/health benefits

Ø Occupational health/company doctors referrals

Ø Negligence claims

Ø Ill health retirements

Ø Workplace accident reports

An audit finds out what's actually happening and isolates the real issues affecting health. It also identifies immediate opportunities and signposts long-term goals. Finally it sets benchmarks and targets for improving business health.

With this information the management team can plan and manage health more effectively. Setting health goals and objectives based on factual information.

The next step would be to plan strategically a better strategy

Ø Turns targets into strategy

Ø Involves all relevant managers

Ø Encourages early buy-in through participation

Ø Maps activities onto goals

Ø Considers resource availability

Ø Justifies investment

Problems can brew under the service of organisations for a long time before their impact becomes noticeable - by the time they bubble up to the surface they're already affecting performance. Internal factors - changes in operations or management structure or IT resources - also have an effect.

A review will highlight anything that has altered, bringing to light not just the results of company interventions, but also any new issues; the next stage can then focus on these, allowing refining of the strategy so that its alignment continually improves the company.

Clear understanding that each organisation will see their priorities differently and will have varying resources available with which to drive improvements - which means companies can find their own way of doing things

Ø Recognition that the strategy is only achievable if individual organisations contribute and set their own targets - which means this is something companies can control from within rather than being handed down form above.

Ø Focus on the need for evaluation - setting targets and corresponding actions followed by an appraisal of the results. Setting the standard of strategic targets linked to measurable outcomes means employers will be able to see the commercial benefits of what they are doing.

Ø A clear statement of the employers' role in not just protecting the health of employees but also in promoting the health of the employee - recognition of the role of fulfilment at work in maintaining and improving employee health.

Once effective safety programs have been designed, companies must focus to implement prevention. There are two broad categories of safety measures: some are to alert workers to existing hazards, and others are to protect them form these hazards.

Warning Signals

With many safety efforts, we attempt to reduce accidents by providing warning signals. For example: Back In the days when the automobile first became the major mode of transportation, someone proposed that drivers might be better able to avoid accidents if they had information about the condition of the road ahead. What was needed was warning signs such as "Dangerous Curve ahead". This was a good idea and started putting up warning signs in building wherever there was potential danger. "Wet floor signs" have become familiar to us. Part of the problem is that warning signals are not effectively designed and placed. The message should identify the nature and severity of the hazard. It also should tell people what they should do and not do and it should let them know the consequences of failing to heed the warning.

Personal Protective Devises

Safety clothing and other protective devices are meant to reduce accidents by shielding the worker form existing hazards. The worker may reject protective devises for they are uncomfortable or interfere with normal functioning.

Interventions to Modify Human Behaviour

Ordinary job training should include safety interventions so that from the start employees learn how to use the work system's communications. A fully trained employee will be able to recognise hazards in his or her job and will know how to deal with a hazard. Therefore attention is needed to motivate employees in planning safety interventions and these can be designed to meet both training and safety needs.

The following table highlights some prevention methods:

Slips Measures to clear up spillages and dry floor

Immediately cleaning when catering is not in progress drying wet floors after wet cleaning

Trips no obstacles in walkways

No uneven floor ways.

Handling Exposed edges of blades securely covered during cleaning.

Avoiding lifting items which are too heavy

Avoiding of lifts which involve reaching up too high or too low

Exposure to splashes, steam and chemicals: Safe procedures and training and supervision for opening steam oven etc doors. Safe systems of work, training and supervision in the use and storage of cleaning substances.

Machinery Ensure machinery is properly guarded, especially food slicers, planetary mixers, vegetable cutting machines and catering attachments.

Avoid need to stand on objects to reach articles.

Fire and explosion Ensure gas-fired equipment is fitted with flame failure devices so far as reasonably practicable.

Institute safe systems of work, training and supervision over lighting procedures

clean fat deposits off vents and ductwork etc

Electric Shock Examine particularly electric heated trolleys

Job Training Programmes

Effective work procedures are safe work procedures. Safety precautions included as a routine part of the job are more likely to be practised in all circumstances than safety measures tacked on as an afterthought. Feedback of results is an element of training that has been incorporated into safety programmes. Learning about safety occurs more quickly if trainees are given information about their progress.

Incentive Programmes

If protective devises are provided, they should be well designed and employees should be directed to sue them. The token economy has been used effectively as an incentive programme for encouraging personal protection.

Worker Participation

Some programmes have been devised to include employees in discussing and solving safety problems and these participation programmes have had positive effects on accident rates.

Organisational Change Programmes

Effective safety programmes are not simply patch jobs. Safety must be made a part of the fabric of the organisation and it must have the commitment and support of management.

No discussion of accident reduction is complete without the mention of safety posters and periodic organisation-wide safety campaigns.

The Catering Industry

Safety is important in any job, but particularly so in the fast-food industry, where young and inexperienced workers abound. The fast-food industry is one of the largest employers of teens in the country, and many go on to senior positions.

But the industry has a troubling safety record. Of all the teens working in the restaurant industry, the majority injured on the job are most likely to be working in fast-food outlets, according to a 1999 study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)[USA]. Collecting data from a sample of hospitals across the country over a two-year period, NIOSH estimated that emergency rooms treated about 44,800 injuries suffered by teenage restaurant workers.

Of those injuries, an estimated 28,000 -- a whopping 63 percent -- took place in hamburger, pizza, or other fast-food establishments. Interestingly, most of the injuries occurred in:

Ø Hamburger restaurants (52.6 percent),

Ø Pizza places (12.6 percent)

Ø Chicken or fish restaurants (11.7 percent).

The NIOSH study also determined that nearly half of the injuries involved hot grease and that more than half of the injuries from falls were caused by wet or greasy floors. Researchers further found that the type of injury varied according to gender. Of teens working in fast-food restaurants, males were more likely to have burns, lacerations, and other injuries related to cooking, while females were more likely to suffer sprains, strains, and contusions associated with cashiering and clearing tables.

Researchers have also found that teens working in fast-food restaurants are six times more likely to be burned than teens working in any other industry. Investigating burns among restaurant workers in Colorado and Minnesota, researchers found that of the 71 teenagers in Minnesota who had had work-related burns, 31 suffered permanent scarring. (Of these injuries, 28 occurred in fast-food restaurants, and 14 of those accidents involved hot grease.)

According to the Burn Foundation, burns are likely to occur when workers ignore safety rules, are pressed for time and take shortcuts, or when they become too familiar with their jobs and take unnecessary risks.

Fast-food employees also need to be aware of the ever-present potential for robberies or random violence in their establishments. Employees are told to always follow set procedures for robberies. They are cautioned not to panic or try to play the hero -- in other words, to simply hand over the money. To deter hold-ups, managers also skim large bills from the registers during the day, and prominently display a sign stating the employees don't have access codes to open the safe.

Safe Environment Strategies

Ø Safe Premises A safe environment at the workplace is important: Stable building, soundness of floors, load-bearing capacity of beams, levels of lighting and ventilation.

Ø Safe Materials Raw or cleaning materials used could be harmful. In certain jobs chemical substances, radioactive substances, heavy or explosive substances must be handled accordingly. It must be labelled and packaged accordingly and adequate information on their correct use provided.

Ø Safe Access to Work Employees should have safe access to the workplace from the road outside to the working position, which may be several hundred metres up in the air, as with construction workers, or several miles below the earth's surface in the case of miners.

Ø Adequate Supervision In all organisations, there must be adequate safety supervision directed by senior management through supervisory management to the shop floor.

Ø Competent and Trained personnel Every employee should need some form of health and safety training. This should be satisfied through induction training, on-the-job training, and training in specialised aspects, such as operation of permit to work systems or driver training.

'Safe person' Strategies

Ø Care In any workstation inevitably there will be some people who are more vulnerable than others to certain risks. Typical examples are pregnant women and disabled people. In a number of cases there will be the need for medical surveillance of such people.

Ø Personal Hygiene In order to promote good standards of personal hygiene, it is vital that the organisation provides adequate washbasins. Showers, hot and cold water, nail brushes, soap and towels.

Ø Protective Equipment This should be selected carefully for reasons of hygiene and workers should be made aware of the limitation of such equipment.

Ø Safety of the individual Dangerous behaviour (such as removal of machine guards, fighting, smoking in non-smoking areas, dangerous driving of vehicles, abuse of equipment, etc.) and 'horseplay' can be extremely dangerous in the workplace. The organisation should place a duty on every employee while at work to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and other persons who may be affected by his acts or omission at work.

Ø Caution towards danger All workers and management should appreciate the risks in the workplace and these risks should be clearly identified.

Targeted interventions prevent crisis issues causing irrevocable damage, and stop chronic issues from whittling away at profit. Health management services facilitate precision implementation so that the impact of interventions and employee support is not jeopardised. Companies are increasingly aware that continual spend on health is essential. Organisations continually change as they anticipate or react to market developments or undertake a major initiative, and their health dynamics move in.

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