Health Safety and Environmental (HSE) issues are critical concerns in every workplace. Accidents and incidents can happen at any time, and they can result in injuries, fatalities, and environmental damage. That’s why employers and employees need to prioritise safety and make it a part of their everyday work routine and efficiently embedded in their Safety Culture. Many companies hold the HSE Safety Day event to promote this safety culture.
What is the World Day for Safety and Health at Work all about?
How can this event be held by companies?
What is the World Day for Safety and Health at Work?
History and application
The 28th of April is specifically designated as World Day for Safety and Health at Work. It was declared by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2003 “to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases worldwide”.
This event originated from the numerous occupational accidents, incidents, injuries and illnesses around the world. The occurrence of these unfortunate events was estimated to be around millions every year, in addition to fatal occupational injuries. Therefore, the ILO initiated the World Day for Safety and Health at Work observance to underscore the importance of preventing workplace accidents and illnesses. The inaugural event took place in 2003 intending to promote equity, protection, amiability, and other positive workplace attributes that seek to raise awareness of these critical issues.
Since then, companies worldwide have started to hold a series of activities to raise awareness and promote safety at work. These activities include demonstrations, presentations, workshops and games. They are designed to engage employees and teach them about different aspects of workplace safety; such as hazard identification, risk assessment, emergency response, and environmental protection.
In addition to promoting safety, this event can present the opportunity for companies to recognise and reward employees who have shown a commitment to workplace safety. This can be done through awards, prizes, or any form of recognition. By adopting this strategy, companies can encourage employees to continue prioritising safety and help create a positive safety culture in the workplace. For this to happen, of course, leadership is a key element for the success of this event.
The World Day for Safety and Health at Work and the activities held by companies and the emerging laws, regulations, and standards have greatly helped reduce occupational accidents and incidents and create a safer and healthier workplace for everyone.
Occupational accidents and incidents statistical data
The World Day for Safety and Health at Work activities in companies have contributed to the reduction in occupational accidents and incidents can be interestingly observed in the United Kingdom, where the number of fatal injuries per 100 000 workers has dropped from 1.10 in the early 2000s to 0.38 in 2021/2022. Around 65% fewer fatal injuries in the workplace. The same downward trend was noticed in the numbers of non-fatal injuries and accidents (estimated to be 60% fewer accidents). The non-fatal and fatal occupational accident rates showed also a decreasing trend over the years, at the same levels as the United Kingdom. As for the United States of America (USA) around 50% decrease was also reported since the early 2000s, regarding non-fatal occupational accidents and incidents.
However, at a global level, the numbers are still getting upward. According to ILO, non-fatal occupational accidents have increased since 2003, from an estimated 268 million accidents to 402 million in 2021. And from around 2 million fatal occupational injuries in 2003 to 2.3 million deaths in 2021. There is still a long way to go, to ensure safety in the workplace all over the world. In some countries, the lack of law enforcement in terms of safety measures, risk management, Personal Protective Equipment availability, and lack of employee awareness may be the cause of these increasing occupational accidents and incidents.
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Examples from 4 HSE professionals from different industries organising the event
Depending on their industry and priorities, companies can choose different themes to focus on for the World Day for Safety and Health at Work.
Here are some examples:
- Mental Health in the Workplace
- The Aim: Zero Injuries
- Social Dialogue For Safety and Health at Work
- Emerging Risks with New Technologies
- Safe and Healthy Working Conditions
- And many more…
Once the theme is adopted by the company, the HSE department along with the managers and leaders arrange a variety of activities to engage the employees and make the day fun, informative and raise awareness. Among the activities adopted by companies, we can mention, the “Safety poster contest” based on the theme chosen by the organisation; “Safety treasures hunt” which will create awareness and great teamwork to find clues and avoid risks during the competition; “Live demonstration of the hazards and risks impact on human health and environment”, etc.
Here are 4 examples of activities that are adopted in 4 different industries during the World Day for Safety and Health at Work.
Youssef’s experience in the environmental testing and consulting industry.
In a company where building materials from nuclear activity industries, machinery and other non-nuclear are analysed in search for asbestos, the HSE department organised many different types of activities for safety awareness.
Before the 28th of April, the company adopted the theme “encountering risks in the workplace and reactions to emergency procedures”.
Therefore, team managers and HSE managers organised various activities. The employees working in the laboratories had to work in different groups of teams and prepare posters according to their daily tasks and the risks encountered and how to protect themselves and their colleagues. The results were interesting as the managers could observe how the teams were functioning to search for the information needed and many questions were raised about the location of some documents they were looking for and they never found.
Moreover, the HSE managers wanted to test the reactions of employees, especially in emergency and dangerous situations. An object was used to represent a contaminated building material by nuclear radioactivity and containing asbestos. The aim was to check how the team would work to contain the nuclear activity and the asbestos from going into the air, and if the employees will correctly wear their personal and collective protective equipment and use them wisely to protect themselves and their colleagues.
Safety training in this industry and work activity and updating the training and skills of the employees are crucial to guarantee the safety of all stakeholders, the community, and the environment outside the company.
Melany’s experience in the health industry.
Within healthcare facilities, this type of day aims to raise awareness among all audiences, whether hospital staff, patients, or any other concerned individuals, about occupational health and safety themes. Several workshops can be set up, including "error rooms" or “simulations rooms”: these rooms represent a reconstructed care environment and simulate real-life scenarios where medical errors can occur and the participants must detect them (e.g. errors related to identity verification).
The themes may differ depending on the facility’s objective. Usually, these workshops are fun and encourage communication between individuals, especially when they are carried out in working groups of 10 to 12 participants.
Some facilities have even chosen to invest in connected glasses to organise this type of exercise, which can be used daily as a tool for occupational health and safety training.
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Thibault’s experience in the service industry.
For the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, the HSE manager organised 2 different workshops with the help of the Department of Fire and Rescue Service aiming to engage employees and make the activity beneficial for their professional and personal lives.
The first workshop comprised “fire extinguisher handling training” to learn the basics of intervening in a paper fire (water extinguisher) or an electrical fire (CO2 extinguishers), which both represent 2 of the main risks in a service company. The employees discovered and were surprised by the use and generated power of the extinguishers during this workshop.
The second workshop aimed to train and raise employee awareness of the basics of first-aid gestures and alert procedures.
Finally, as part of a sustainable mobility approach, the company encourages its employees to travel by bike or on foot as much as possible. For this purpose, the company distributed personalised reflectors to be more visible at night for all employees.
Gabriella’s experience in the manufacturing industry.
In the manufacturing industry, time is precious, especially when it comes to manufacturing aviation parts and a multisite company. Developing workshops and activities in this type of industry requires a lot of organisational preparations and the support of different managers to minimise individual dispersion and successfully pass on the necessary knowledge to all employees. Therefore, a 1-hour event for groups of 30 people was organised.
Different workshops and activities were adopted and showed the differences between the worksite before and after the accident, including:
- Hazardous waste management: an area was created to simulate hazardous waste mismanagement, where participants had to identify and propose alternatives for deficiencies such as waste pouring into the drain, cans without proper containers, and unclear labelling.
- Ergonomics workshop for MSD (Musculoskeletal disorders) Prevention: practical exercises were implemented to sensitise workers on safe lifting and displacement of goods.
- Occupational accidents: this workshop included real accidents that have occurred throughout the year and at different sites in the company. Participants analysed occupational risks and identified solutions based on five cases of fatal accidents and two non-fatal, then showcased the company’s actions to reduce or eliminate hazards.
- Evaluation of the learned knowledge from the activities: assessment of knowledge and good practices through a questionnaire using the Kahoot application with positive results achieved by 70% of workers.
The World Day for Safety & Health at Work serves as a reminder of the importance of promoting a safe and healthy work environment. It highlights the need for employers and employees to take proactive measures to prevent workplace accidents and illnesses. By investing in workplace safety and health, companies can protect their workers and improve their productivity and reputation. Everyone must recognise that safety and health at work is not just a one-day event but a continuous effort that requires ongoing attention and commitment.
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