An OHS Management System is a structured process to minimize potentials of work-related fatalities, injuries, and illnesses, to increase productivity by reducing the direct and indirect costs associated with accidents, and to increase the quality of manufactured products and/or rendered services.
Emphasis on Occupational Health and Safety : In the changed global scenario of industrial development, which fosters a drive for competitiveness based on improved quality in all functions of an organization, concerns on occupational safety, health and environment have received special significance. The international agencies (e.g., ILO, WHO, ISO, UNDP) have renewed their thrust for a suitable global framework to implement cost-effective occupational health and safety delivery systems, management methods and programmes to prevent workplace ailments and promote the health and welfare of workers.
With the basic premise of total quality management, further than the success of ISO 9000 and its quality systems approach, there is a sustained worldwide endeavour to adopt a similar system for occupational health and safety (OHS) practices in an organization. This increased attention may perhaps be attributed to three concurrent events. The first revolves around the activities of the ISO and the success of the ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 family of standards. The second event is US OSHA’s development and refinement of Voluntary Protection Programme (VPP) and the related programmes based on the OSHA’s Safety and Health Programme Management Guidelines (US Federal Register, 1989). Finally, there are the organization – wide ripples of workplace success stories of the voluntary systems of occupational health and safety management.
Primarily, effective management of worker safety and health protection is a decisive factor in reducing work-related injuries and illnesses. An ideal OHS management system should provide a structured process to minimize work-related injuries and illnesses, and reduce the direct and indirect costs associated with accidents. Also, it must provide a direction to OHS activities, with reference to organizational policies, regulatory requirements, recommended guidelines, industry practices and standards, including negotiated labour agreements. Therefore, conforming to a management system may be of significant value for the small and medium-sized organizations that traditionally receive little regulatory guidance.
The structured approach of ISO 9000:1994 has initiated ample developments in several countries (e.g., UK, Japan, Australia, USA, and many countries in Europe and Asia), including the thrust of certification bodies to introduce OHSMS. In this context, mention may be made of the British Standards Institution (BS 8800:1996, Guide to Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems) and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) guidance document on ISO 9000-based OHSMS (AIHA, 1996). Both the documents have received significant attention by various stakeholders and standards-making organizations. With these initiations of the BSI and AIHA, a formalized Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) Guidance document has come into existence, which the Health and Safety professionals may use as a basis for designing, implementing, and evaluating OHSMS.
OSHA Management Guidelines : In 1982, OSHA began to approve worksites with exemplary safety and health management programmes for participation in a Voluntary Protection Programme (VPP). In 1989, OSHA issued recommended guidelines for the effective management and protection of worker safety and health (US Federal Register, 1989).
The employers have been advised and encouraged to institute and maintain a programme that provides systematic policies, procedures, and practices to protect employees from, and to allow them to recognize work-related health and safety hazards. An effective programme includes provisions for the identification, evaluation, and control of general workplace hazards, specific job hazards, and potential hazards. The major elements of the guidelines are summarized below : l Management commitment and employee involvement l Worksite analysis l Hazard prevention and control l Safety and health training.
Management Commitment and Employee Involvement : Management’s commitment provides the motivating force and the resources for organizing and controlling activities within an organization. The management must regard worker safety and health as a fundamental value of the organization and apply its commitment to health and safety protection with as much vigor to other organizational goals.
Employee involvement provides the means by which workers express their commitment to health and safety for themselves and for their fellow workers. Some recommended actions are : l Clearly state a worksite policy on safe and healthful work and working conditions, so that all personnel fully understand the priority and importance of safety and health protection in the organization l Establish and communicate a clear goal for the safety and health programme and define objectives for meeting that goal, to make the members of the organization understand the results desired and measures planned for achieving them l Provide top management involvement in implementing the programme l Arrange for and encourage employee involvement in the structure and operation of the programme, so that they will commit their insight and energy to achieving the safety and health programme’s goal and objectives l Assign and communicate responsibility for all aspects of the programme so that managers, supervisors, and employees know the standard of performance is expected from them l Provide adequate authority and resources to a responsible group to meet the assigned responsibilities. Hold managers, supervisors, and employees accountable for meeting their responsibilities l Review the programme at least annually, to evaluate progress in meeting the goals and objectives so that deficiencies can be identified and the programme and/or the objectives can be revised, as necessary.
Worksite Analysis : An analysis of the work environment involves a variety of worksite examinations to identify existing hazards and conditions and operations in which changes might occur to create new hazards. The following measures are recommended to identify existing and potential hazards : l Conduct a comprehensive baseline worksite survey and periodic update surveys l Analyze planned and new facilities, processes, materials and equipment l Perform routine job hazards analyses l Assess risk factors of ergonomics applications to workers’ tasks l Conduct regular site safety and health inspections, to identify hazards and failures in hazard controls l Provide a reliable system for employees to notify management personnel about conditions that appear hazardous and encourage employees to use the system without fear of reprisal. OSHA suggests displaying posters at the work site and encouraging employees to understand health and safety issues l Investigate accidents and near miss incidents. Analyze injury and illness trends over time, to identify and prevent common causes.
Hazard Prevention and Control : Elimination or controls of workplace hazards must be accomplished in a timely manner once a hazard or potential hazard is recognized. As part of the programme, employers should establish procedures to correct or control present or potential hazards in a timely manner. The procedures should include measures such as the following : l Use engineering techniques where feasible and appropriate l Establish safe work practices and procedures that are understood and followed by all affected parties l Provide personal protective equipment when engineering controls are not feasible l Use administrative controls, such as reducing the duration of exposure l Maintain the facility and equipment to prevent equipment breakdowns l Plan and prepare for emergencies, and conduct training and emergency drills, as needed l Establish a medical programme that includes first aid onsite as well as a nearby physician and emergency medical care to reduce the risk of injury or illness that occur.
Safety and Health Training : Training helps identify the safety and health responsibilities of both management and employees at the site. Training is often most effective when incorporated into other educational or performance requirements and job practices.
l Employee Training : Employee training programmes should be designed to ensure that all employees are aware of the hazards to which they may be exposed and the proper methods for avoiding such hazards.
l Supervisory Training : Supervisors should be trained to understand the key role they play in job site safety and to enable them to carry out their responsibilities effectively. Training programmes for supervisors should include : (a) Analysis of the work under their supervision to anticipate and identify potential hazards. (b) Maintainence of physical protection in their work areas. (c) Reinforcement of employee training on the potential hazards of work and protective measures through continual performance feedback and, if necessary, through enforcement of safe work practices. (d) Understanding their safety and health responsibilities.
BS 8800:1996 : Apart from the OSHA guidelines released a few years prior to the BS standard designated as BS 8800:1996, this is perhaps the first formalized OHSMS that provides a template from which the development of an international OHSMS may be started. If history is any indication, BS 8800:1996 may affect the international OHSMS standards development process in the same way that British Standards had an influence on the final outcome of both the ISO 9000 series and ISO 14000 series standards (Redinger, 1996).
Structurally, BS 8800:1996 has three major sections. One section deals with the actual management system based on the British OHSMS regulation HS (G) 65. The second section is based on ISO 14001 and the third section contains annexes that provide guidance information relevant to each of the primary sections. An outline of BS 8800:1996 based on ISO 14001 is as follows :
4.0.2 Initial Status Review
4.1 OH&S Policy
4.2.2 Risk Assessment
4.2.3 Legal and other Requirements
4.2.4 OH&S Management Arrangements
4.3 Implementation and Operation
4.3.1 Structure and Responsibility
4.3.2 Training, Awareness and Competence
4.3.4 OH&S Management System Documentation
4.3.5 Document Control
4.3.6 Operational Control
4.3.7 Emergency Preparedness and Response
4.4 Checking and Corrective Action
4.4.1 Monitoring and Measurement
4.4.2 Corrective Action
4.5 Management Review
A clause-by-clause analysis of BS 8800:1996 and the AIHA OHSMS document will find a considerable similarity of the system elements. However, one may comprehend the difference of interest in BS 8800:1996 is in the clause 4.4.2 – Corrective Action. This clause states that where deficiencies are found, root cause should be identified and corrective action taken. The BS standard provides a detailed explanation on ways that organizations can develop OHSMS that will conform to the standard. Annexure A provides a cross-index of the BS 8800 elements and ISO 9001:1994. Other annexures are – Organizing, Planning and Implementing, Risk Assessment, Measuring Performance, and Auditing. While BS 8800 is explicit on the requirement of root cause analysis, the assessment procedures and techniques associated with the AIHA OHSMS imply the need for root cause analysis, which brings in a fair degree of flexibility for stage-wise implementation.
OHSAS 18001 : For a number of years, there has been a demand for a certification scheme for occupational health and safety, and this intensified with the publication of BS 8800 and AIHA guidance document on OHSMS. While BS 8800 and AIHA documents offer guidance on implementing an OHS management system, these are not intended for certification purposes. Certification offers independent verification that an organization has taken all reasonable measures to minimize risks and prevent accidents.
While the present position suggests that the ISO may not pursue an international standard on OHS, indications are that the International Labour Organization (ILO, Geneva) takes the initiative to bring out consensus guidelines on health and safety implementation (ILO 2001), as detailed later in the article. The new International Standard (ISO 9001:2000) has been aligned with ISO 14001:1996, however, it does not include requirements, particularly to environmental management and occupational health and safety management. The ISO standard recognizes that an organization may align or integrate its own QMS with related management system requirements. The present suspended situation prompted many certification bodies to develop their own schemes, based on the principles laid down by BS 8800 and the AIHA document.
The worldwide spurt of certification activity by different certification bodies obviously led to inevitable irregularities between the schemes. To obviate the irregular and undesirable developments, the Standard for Certification of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Management Systems has been developed by an association of national standards bodies, certification bodies and specialist consultants. This standard – Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) Specification, OHSAS 18001, was officially released in April 1999. The OHSAS 18001 Series unifies existing schemes, creates an auditable standard and provides a vehicle to put emphasis on CEN, ISO and ILO into developing an international standard. The new standard is divided into two sections :
l OHSAS 18001 is the specification against which certification is awarded. OHSAS 18001 has been developed to be compatible with the ISO 9001:1994 (Quality) and ISO 14001:1996 (Environmental) management systems standards in order to facilitate the integration of quality, environmental and OHS management systems in organizations. The system components included in the standard are shown in Figure 1.
l An accompanying publication, OHSAS 18001 Guidelines for the implementation of OHSAS 18001, provides guidance on implementing an occupational health and safety management system and corresponds directly to the specification. The standards are likely to be supplemented by a guide for auditors and an auditor’s training scheme.
OHSMS Certification Scheme : The OHSMS is a management system that enables an organization to control the impact of their activities, products and services in occupational health and safety. The organizations, which have effectively established, implemented and maintained OHSMS meeting the requirements of OHSAS 18001 are eligible to apply for OHSMS certification. The certification scheme was established with the aim that upon receiving this certification, the organization will become more aware and self-regulatory in promoting safety at their work places. That is, the standard provides a framework for organizations to establish a strategic approach to their OHS policy, plans and action by : l Implementing the management system at various levels of OHS maturity l Demonstrating compliance with applicable OHS legislation and regulations, with a commitment to continuous improvement.
As mentioned, the specifications used for OHSMS certification are OHSAS 18001. As in the case of ISO 14001, this contains specified requirements, which consist of the following basic sections : l Occupational Health and Safety Policy l Planning l Implementation and Operation l Checking and Corrective Action l Management Review.
Table 1 includes other international and national OHS management programmes that are in use.
(Table 1 Regulations, Standards and Guidance Documents on Occupational Safety and Health Management Programmes)
The OHSMS Benefits : OHS management calls for a long-term strategy in creating organization-wide health and safety awareness and promoting safe work practices, thus leading to better workplace standards for the organization’s functions and activities. With the implementation of OHSMS, the organizations can reap several benefits as given below : l Improved marketability and enhanced client confidence in providing a safe working environment l Complementing the ISO 9001 (quality) and ISO 14001 (environmental) management systems and allowing for future integration of the systems to address quality, safety, environment and other issues in the business process of the organization l Higher operational productivity through reduced work related accidents, minimization of loss of manpower and time, and obvious intangible benefits of health and well being of the workers.
The Certification Process
Pre-Audit Review : The OHSMS certification process is illustrated in Figure 2. Under the OHSMS Certification Scheme, the objective of the pre-audit review is to ensure that the scope of analysis covering the entire OHSMS is conducted. Upon receipt of the application for pre-audit review, the certification body will conduct a document review and an optional site visit to focus on the planning aspects of the OHSMS. It is essential that the organization shall reflect the scope of certification they seek prior to the audits conducted. Following completion of the pre-audit review, the organization undertakes necessary emendations in the system, as reported by the certification body. Once the follow-up actions have been executed, the auditor agency proceeds to the application for OHSMS Audit.
OHSMS Audit : The organization shall re-submit its revised occupational health and safety manuals and procedures. The objective of the audit is to confirm that the OHSMS of the organization conforms to all requirements of the OHSAS 18001. It is a minimum requirement that the organization undertakes one internal audit and management reveiw prior to the audit.
During the audit, nonconformity and/or observation reports may be issued, which should be clearly understood by the applicant organization. In case of major nonconformities identified during the audit, the organization will be required to go through a re-audit. All nonconformities shall be closed out within the specified time frame, based on which a recommendation for the award of the certificate may be made.
Surveillance Audit : During the three years validity period of the certificate, at least three annual surveillance audits are to be conducted to ensure that the certified organization continues to comply with the requirements of OHSAS 18001. The certification bodies are proposing that the organizations may make use of combined quality and OHSMS routine surveillance audits, which may optimize their time and money.
Continuous Registration : A full reassessment for the renewal of a certificate shall be conducted every three years. The certification body shall schedule the reassessment about three months before expiry of the certificate. Upon successful completion of reassessment, the organization will be issued a new certificate valid for a further three years.
Integration with ISO 9001 Certification : The organization, which is certified to ISO 9001/2:1994 will find that the framework for implementation of OHSMS has already been set up. The organization may seek to develop an integrated system that addresses the requirements of the ISO 9000 standards and OHSAS 18001 requirements. There is a continuing debate on the feasibility of a management system that addresses quality, environment, and health and safety within a single management system. This means that during any one audit visit, the organization will be able to make up for simultaneous audits for ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSMS. It may be worth noting that the current OHSMS certification schemes have been developed on the framework of the ISO 9000:1994 and ISO 14001 versions. The new standard (ISO 9001:2000), which is based on the process model, will help and facilitate the organizations to integrate the OHSMS within the structure of up-dated QMS.
Future Perspective : There has been an increased realization in the corporate sectors that the OHSMS objectives carry positive values in the economic equation, and create a positive perception of prevention of workplace hazards as an integral part of the quality management (Marois, 1997). It is based on the premise that, when the total costs resulting from injury, illness and disability are taken into account in calculating the true cost of production, it is apparent that high productivity and quality can be reached economically only when requirements in these areas are integrated in the production process. Safety, health and environmental issues are integral elements of other priorities such as employment, industrial relations and enterprise development. The voluntary management systems as well as mandatory regulations at the national, regional and international levels (e.g., Scandinavian Internal Control and EU Framework Directive 89/391) spread across to associate all relevant stakeholders to its implementation.
The certification bodies continue to impress upon the ISO, CEN, ILO and other international agencies that they should arrive at a consensus for an international standard on OHSMS. Perhaps that prompted the ISO technical committee to incorporate a new sub-clause 6.4 – Work Environment in the process model (ISO 9001:2000). Under this sub-clause, the organization shall identify and manage those human and physical factors of the work environment needed to achieve conformity of product and processes, as suitable. Besides, because of the relevance of functions, a greater emphasis has been placed on the ILO to devise a unified management system and to reach an agreement with the member states. The ILO promoted the OSHE (Occupational Safety, Health and Environment) programme to address the health and safety concerns arising from the world of work. This programme directly advances the objectives of several international labour conventions, particularly the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No. 155), the Chemicals Convention, 1990 (No. 170), the Occupational Health Services Convention, 1985 (No. 161), and the Prevention of Major Industrial Accidents Convention, 1993 (No. 174).
OSH-MS : ILO Guidelines : The Occupational Safety and Health Management System (OSH-MS) has been developed by the ILO (2001), according to the internationally agreed tripartite approach to provide strength and flexibility for the development of sustainable OHS culture in the organization. It addresses, the development of national guidelines on OSH-MS, including tailored systems for small and medium-sized organizations, professional contributions of labour inspection and OHS services, and the recognition of the existance of successful OSH management systems, such as responsible care, private voluntary initiatives, good practice in OHS, and the ISO standards on quality and environmental management. As has been mentioned, there are several OHS management-related programmes, which are in use internationally and nationally. For ready reference, some of the guidelines and frameworks are listed in Table 1.
The ILO recommended elements of the national framework of the OSH-MS are schematically shown in Figure 3. The guidelines are not legally binding and are not intended to replace national laws, regulations or accepted standards, and their application does not require certification. The guidelines emphasize that occupational safety and health, including compliance with the requirements pursuant to national laws and regulations, are the responsibility and duty of the employer. The employer should show strong leadership and commitment to OHS activities in the organization, and make necessary arrangements for establishing on OSH-MS.
Based on the management model of plan-do-check-act, the OSH-MS framework covers policy, organizing, planning and implementation, evaluation and action for improvement at the organizational level, as illustrated in Figure 4. With the unique focus in developing national guidelines, the structure and the elements of the ILO model clearly reflects the influence of OSHA, AIHA and BS 8800 framework. Sixteen fundamental elements of an OSH-MS formed the basis for continual improvement in ensuring the protection and well-being of workers.
The possibilities of such an integrated health and safety approach in the emerging labour market have been debated. On one hand, there has been criticism that the voluntary health and safety management system may encourage the control of behaviour rather than of the work environment. It has also been debated whether the management systems are hierarchical and may lead to rigid models. On the other hand, the governmental regulations may empower workers to influence the management of the work environment. However, because of the innumerable number of small enterprises and casual and temporary work force in diverse manufacturing as well as tertiary sectors, particularly in the industrially developing countries, the absence of longterm links between the employers and the employees is the obvious bottleneck in evolving useful OHSMS to address health and safety issues.
International understanding, consensus and global programmes on the underlying principles for a safe and healthy working and living environment and the promotion of workers’ well being have a basic foundation concerning social justice and worker protection, across nations. This will help countries strengthen their capacity to develop and implement cost-effective OHS strategies for a sustained and significant reduction in occupational accidents and diseases. In this perspective, structurization of the OHSMS, in line with the ISO 9000 quality system has obvious potential to evolve a framework for the development of national programmes. This may be commensurate with national and local implementation, on internationally agreed policies and principles. It goes without saying that a voluntary approach will be the basis for coherent and progressive expansion of national OHS capacities of industry as well as regulatory authorities. That is, the focus is on strengthening national capacity to deal with OHS issues, including implementing OHS monitoring and enforcement measures through government entities, employers’ and workers’ organizations, and small and medium enterprises, including special categories of workers (women, young workers and workers in the informal sector). The goal is to establish nationally integrated operational structures for a streamlined and synergistic delivery of OHS services, within the scope of the quality and business plan of the organization.
Indian Scenario : India’s OHS experiences have embraced many influences within a brief span of time. It has been gradually modulated for coordinated development of functions of industries, thereby to resolve problems of adjusting technology to man and developing abilities of man with changing technological needs. Today, the OHS management receives considerably greater business significance in medium and large organizations, like steel, manufacturing, chemical, construction and mining. The rationale of OHS application has been viewed as :
l Regulatory Issues : Registered public and private sector enterprises are subjected to compliance of regulatory instruments under the statutory jurisdiction of the Environment (Protection) Act, Factories Act, and other Acts and Rules. With the industrial growth tending to be dramatic in the coming years, the pressure of regulatory compliance on the employment and industries will call for well defined occupational and environmental health guidelines.
l Economic Issues : The global economic scenario has markedly influenced the traditional industries. With the changing world business needs due to various international trade agreements and constant inflow of trans-national corporations, the prudent national industries must have strategic business planning in managing risk, and enhancing health and safety at workplaces.
l Technical Issues : Dependence on traditional work patterns is being fast replaced by high mechanization and technological surges, thereby causing a dramatic change in the world of work. Therefore, comprehensive analysis of technology application and human factors identify potential accident and safety risks. Integrating ergonomic and other control measures in planning and design help reduce capital cost, compensation and operational delays.
l Demographic Trend : A steady transformation is taking place from the traditional agriculture-dependent nation to a non-agricultural dependent one. While the percentage of the total working population has changed marginally, the number of working population has increased tremendously. Today we have a workforce of about 311 million with about 110 million in the industrial sector. During the next decade, a large number of the younger population will join the workforce and only a small segment (i.e., the older population), will go out of the workforce. The employment pattern of women from household to industry and other sectors is fast changing.
l Social Awareness : The changing scenario at work places has brought about an impact on the lifestyle of people whereby the public has become sensitized by the environmental changes. Being a populous nation, with limited economic resources, countries like ours are face-to-face with stark realities of the challenges in the world of work in transforming hard occupational health problems to soft occupational health problems, which are the gift of modern society. Their combined influence on health and the well being of people has much greater impact today than before.
OHS Services : One of the hallmarks of the OHS services in India is the existence of islands of excellence in certain major organizations, e.g., the petrochemical complexes, iron and steel plants, heavy engineering and machine tool industries, Oil and Natural Gas Commission, power plants and the Indian Railways has excellent OHS facilities. By and large, in many of the large industrial units and mining sectors, the OHS is regarded as synonymous with medical care; excellent hospital facilities have been established which are a matter of pride for the management as evidence of its interest in workers’ health. Whatever useful services are provided by such facilities, they cannot be uniformly regarded as subscribing to occupational health care.
Despite the fact that only a small segment of the work force is employed in large enterprises, including mining, the workers in this sector are generally assured of legally regulated working conditions. The principal social instrument, the Factories Act (1948) covers provisions for safeguarding the health of workers. Statutory standards given in the Factories Act, Workmen’s Compensation Act, Occupational Health and Safety regulations, Employee State Insurance Scheme, Indian Railways Act, Dock Labourers’ Regulations, Environment (Protection) Act, Mines Act, Mines Welfare Fund Act, Coal Mines Regulations, etc. have specific jurisdiction referring to compliance of defined standards for making the workplace healthful and safe. In addition, the reference of pollution, health hazards, industrial waste disposals, etc. have also been made in the following Acts – Indian Fisheries Act, 1897, Indian Forest Act, 1927, The Industries (Development and Regulations) Act, 1951, The prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, The Insecticides Act, 1968, Motor Vehicle Act, 1939, The Atomic Energy Act, 1962, The Ancient Monuments & Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
The employees, numbering less than 10 million, are covered under the ESIS that extends medical care through dispensaries and referral government hospitals, and also provides certain social security benefits to the employees, like sickness, maternity, and disablement compensation and dependent benefits. The ESIS coverage is far from satisfactory, since the total industrial workforce is over 110 million in the country. Also, this social security organization lays only minimal emphasis on occupational health care. There are prohibitions and restrictions on employment of women and children for excessive and unsuitable hours of work, which provisions often get violated. Provision exists for protecting the workers in dangerous operations and notification of accident, operational safety and occupational diseases.
Leaving aside registered private and public sector companies, numbering over 1.5 lakh, there is no substantive account of the small unregistered industrial units (estimated to be over 1 million units) that do not come under the provision of the Factories Act. The small industries, including the informal sectors (self-employed or casual labourers) employ a work force several times larger than that in the organized medium and large industries. There is little specialization in the performance of management functions, small economic layout, unregulated working hours and conditions. Work related damages in the ceramic and pottery industries, coir and tea, workers in manual materials handling in trade and commerce, jute and textile workers, fish processing industry, slate industry in Central India, beedi (tobacco) making and glass industry in Gujarat and northern India, wool industry in Rajasthan are the cases for systematic study on OHS methods and practices. The critical question concerns the priority to be allocated for work simplification and in examining feasibility of making improvements.
The agriculture and informal sectors defy any workable solution on OHS issues, despite the fact that the problems are excruciating. About 96% of the total land area (3,280,483 sq.km) is spread over 576,000 villages, with primary dependence on farming. Predominant problems of agricultural workers ar related to work hazards, zoonotic diseases due to handling animals, exposure to toxic agro-chemicals and vegetable dusts, malnutrition and parasitic infestation affecting the human working capacity. There is a rapid shift from dependence on age-old work methods and tools to farm mechanization. Disregarding infrastructure constraints, the use of heavy machinery has increased many times during the last decade. This also culminates in a greater number of farm accidents and injuries due to operational deficiencies. However, OHS is by and large non-existent for this large segment of the working population; also their access to general medical care is hopelessly limited. Conceivably, the elements of occupational health need to be integrated with the health care delivery system, through primary and secondary health centers. But the scenario is not clear as to what extent OHS services may be made available to the bulk of the farm workforce and workers in the myriad units of the informal sectors in rural and semi-urban areas.
Accidents and Other OHS Hazards : Minimization of risk potentials of ill health, accident and fatigue goes far beyond the scope of preventive measures. Also, the screening of illnesses of occupational and non-occupational origin is one of the main objectives of OHS management. This is possible through epidemiological evidence of occupational hazards and controlling recognized hazards at the workplace. Therefore, development of specialist skills in OHS is an essential requisite. It calls for an integrated approach to work systems analysis and standardization, whereby tasks, such as physical activity, workplace design, physical and chemical environment, man-machine interaction, work safety, psychosocial aspects of work, work time scheduling, etc. are analyzed. This, in turn, may enhance system safety, human comfort, effectiveness and quality of work.
Accident records of Indian industries and agriculture are alarming. Figure 5 shows the trend of fatal accidents in different industries, with special reference to industries in Gujarat. The national scenario is very similar. Based on all India data, a schematic is shown in Figure 6 to highlight the accident trend at workplaces. Selected industrial investigations suggest that many of the work accidents and physical injuries could have been obviated through better OHS methods and practices. There is an obvious need of associating the functions of OHS services with the personnel selection and placement with the knowledge of the work content and risks involved in it. Activation of legislation has marginally benefited industrial workers, and also encouraged management and trade unions to be more aware of occupational health.
Although industrial accident research in India is still in its infancy, there is concern among the enlightened industrial organizations that the imbalance between technological demand and human characteristics lead to low technical utilization, costly maintenance and frequent human failures. The voluntary industry initiatives are evident on their subscribing to the Bureau of Indian Standards and International Standard Organizations for quality assurance, as well as occupational health and environment management. A change in attitude towards prevention and promotion of occupational health is visible. It has been seen that there is no treatment, which is effective against the potential hazards encountered at workplaces. The only treatment of value comprises education and training on the potential risks, and modification of work conditions, including engineering and administrative measures. Recent trends amply suggest the scope of national and international collaboration to forge a voluntary industry initiative on strategic OHS and environmental management, insurance planning, risk assessment, ergonomics and work design.