Work hard, play hard, but safeguard your body


posted February 07, 2021 at 07:15 pm

Occupational safety and health have not been given too much attention over the past few centuries. Some laborers, especially in the construction industry, were physically strained beyond their capacities and exhausted much of their vigor to keep up with the back-breaking schedule. It was also apparent that in the past, safety in the workplace was not a top priority as this was not a factor of profit.  Being exposed to danger or accidents in the workplace due to human error was seen as merely the irresponsibility of the person being blamed.

Today, much has changed. With society’s development and emerging global standards in labor, care for people is the top priority. We now see the importance of having a safe working environment in protecting the welfare of workers. It also decreases the chances of having accidents, as hazard and accident preventive measures are implemented all throughout the facilities of many workplaces. This, in turn, decreases the costs that will be incurred if ever accidents happen. In the Philippines, our country has also been active in employing programs relative to occupational safety and health activities, including fire prevention and control, drug-free workplace, emergency response preparedness, and accident prevention programs.

Although 95 percent of total establishments have some form of occupational health and safety; there is still room for improvement. As one study shows, there is still a lack of designated health officers, conduct of annual physical examinations, implementing healthy lifestyle program, and ergonomics intervention (Revilla, 2019). On a personal level, I believe we, as a country, are quite advanced in adapting principles of occupational safety and health practices in various industries. Although there are still some lapses, especially for the non-compliant establishments, our performance in other occupational safety and health aspects are quite commendable.

I have to admit I also have a minimal understanding of the concept. As far as I know, as long as my employer compensates me well, I need not worry about other things. I just let the government regulators do their functions. Maybe one reason is I still consider myself as young and full of vigor; that I can take physical and mental stress at my age. That’s how we were oriented. I felt guilty for complaining about sitting for long hours, which is nothing compared to physical laborers’ jobs. Who am I to complain?

But after learning that occupational health and safety is important regardless of the industry you work for, I now realize that we all have the right to a safe and conducive working environment. There are probably numerous studies linking unattended occupational health and safety issues to various work performance, such as productivity, efficiency and safety.

It was a great Integral human development class session where we discussed Safety and Productivity Enhancement through Ergonomics Development (SPEED). The resource person, Dr. Jennifer Gutierrez, discussed how they conducted a study on workplace discomfort experienced by employees in several offices. Their study revealed that workers complained that they experienced body pain and cramps that last for least a day and some, even a week. Surprising as this may seem, even workers who have sedentary tasks experience body pains. Given that most of the class are working from home and sedentary, we welcomed Dr. Gutierrez’s recommendations to reduce these discomforts. One is the use of ergonomic furniture, such as ergonomic chairs, to ease the tension when using it. These are especially helpful for people working in the offices who are seated for several hours a day.  A good, well-designed office chair can help reduce back, shoulder and wrist pain.

With this new knowledge, I now know how I could improve my health even when I am at work. Safety is extremely important for us since we are working in the laboratory. I have established several safety standards, protocols and administrative controls to manage the hazards in our laboratory. I also try to take a break from time to time, doing several stretches, especially when working in front of the computer for a long time. Also, I go out of the office for a few breaks to breathe in fresh air from outside and intentionally look at the trees as, based on what I know, this reduces stress and eases tension in the eyes from focusing too much on the monitor.

Likewise, I shared these good habits with my colleagues to not be overworked and experience body pains as well. I try to encourage them to do as I do, conversing with them to get to know more while benefiting from these exercises. I hope that we could still improve our physical aspects in the workplace because I believe this will be beneficial not just for us on our continuing journey to wholeness and well-being but also for the organization.

The author is an MBA student at the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University.  This article is part of his blog for the course Integral Human Development.  

The views expressed here are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.  

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