Even if the worker is aware of the link between his health and his occupation he may not be able to prove it because sometimes it may take decades for the symptoms of the disease to raise their ugly head. Some hazards in workplaces tend to be quite subtle and may take months or years of repeated exposure in order for effects to become apparent. In such a long time period it is understandably quite difficult to point to ones occupation as the cause of ones ill-health. For example suppose a worker might also happen to be a smoker it proves to be an impossible task to pinpoint one’s occupation as the sole reason’s for one’s deteriorating health. Even if an Employee is aware of the possible dangers his job poses he still is responsible to make a living for himself and his family. In some cases it seems to be a choice between earning a living and your health.
An Employee generally tends to choose the one that has an immediate demand namely to make an earning, thus compromising his health in the bargain. An Employee also feels the lack of support form the Legal system. He feels there are not enough laws made to protect him as a worker. Fortunately things are changing for the better, as the Employees get more aware of their rights. Employees are now granted basic rights such as – Right to refuse to work in a place only if he considers it to be unsafe; Right to participate in the Workplace Health and Safety activities; Right to be informed about, actual and potential dangers in the workplace.
Together with that Employees have to fulfill certain responsibilities as well, which include – responsibility to use personal protective equipment and clothing as directed by the Employer; responsibility to report Workplace Hazards and dangers; responsibility to work in a manner as required by the Employer and use the prescribed safety equipment. Most of the Employers also seem to be unaware of the possible health risks their Employees might be subjected to. However, even when Employers are aware of a definite link between the Occupation and Ill health they hesitate to take enough precautions for cost reasons. They feel that more resources, money, time and effort pumped into making the working conditions safer will most likely make their product less competitive in the market.
Sometimes it may demand from the Employers to completely or partially redesign his plant, for example, to accommodate the demands of making the workplace safer for his employees. It might also involve alteration in the Production Techniques to reduce the risk involved in a particular occupation. Making available Safety Equipment like suits, rubber gloves, boots, masks etc. ; Training the workers seems to increase the cost of the product they are producing. It reduces the Profit and the Balance Sheet does not seem so pretty.
They tend to compromise their Employees health in favour of producing a competitively priced product. They defend their position by saying that no single organization has the resources necessary to conduct Occupational Safety and Health research to adequately serve the needs of its Employees. However, what they fail to recognize is the cost of disabling injuries and illness in the workplace leads to rising insurance costs and a workforce demanding adequate compensation makes this a vital issue expressed in terms of financial and human loss. These costs are reflected in the loss of valued employees, low employee morale, compromised safety, reduced productivity and the potential for lengthy, expensive litigation.
An Employer has a lot of responsibilities to fulfill namely – take every reasonable precaution to ensure the workplace is safe; to train employees about any potential hazards; how to safely use, handle, store and dispose of hazardous substances; how to handle emergencies; supply personal protective equipment and ensure workers know how to use the equipment safely and properly. Employers shall take all reasonable precautions, under the particular circumstances, to prevent injuries or accidents in the workplace. An employer must also implement a plan to identify possible workplace hazards and carry out the appropriate corrective action to prevent accidents or injuries arising from these hazards. The recognition and control of Hazards in the Workplace should be the prime responsibility of every Company’s Safety and Health plan.
The fault may also lie with the Health and Care Professionals. A substantial proportion of medical history-taking in hospital wards or general practices in relation to Occupation and Health is grossly inadequate. From the Workers of The Agricultural lands, to the Workers of Iron and Coal mills through the era of Industrial revolution the history of Occupational Health is that of a struggle between workers fighting for protection and preventative measures or compensation, and their employers seeking to deny or reduce their liability for work-related diseases and injuries. This conflict has greatly influenced statistical reporting. As a result, the burden of disease due to occupational exposures is normally underestimated. Many doctors might not have the knowledge to permit them to associate ill-health with possible occupational exposures.
Doctors may thus lack the skills and time to investigate, report and act on their suspicions, or those of their patients.