Occupational safety: what it is, its importance and what the standards are

Occupational safety is the area aimed at preventing occupational accidents and illnesses within the work environment. This sector is based on a set of multidisciplinary measures and, based on them, seeks to understand how accidents happen and what steps are taken to prevent them.

It is an area that brings together knowledge from professionals in medicine, engineering, administration, technology, nursing, for example.

According to International Labor Organization, every 15 seconds a worker dies due to an accident or illness at work in the world. In the same period of time, on average, 160 workers are victims of work-related accidents.

Therefore, understanding more about workplace safety is essential for companies to be able to provide a safe environment.

Therefore, in this text, you will learn more about workplace safety and how important it is for companies and people:

What is job security?

Occupational safety is the set of measures created to guarantee safety within work environments. It also works to prevent occupational diseases and monitor companies so that they meet legal requirements.

Thus, following private studies, the discipline analyzes the risks of accidents within companies and evaluates how to prevent them. Workplace safety is responsible for improving the quality of life and health of employees and directly influences productivity and cost reduction. 

O Occupational Health and Safety Observatory estimates that, since 2012, companies have spent more than 100 billion on expenses related to workplace accidents.

Meanwhile, in Brazil, work safety will be governed by Regulatory Standards, the NRs. They constitute decrees and ordinances that establish the main responsibilities of companies with regard to the exercise of professional activities.

What is the main objective of workplace safety?

The main objective of occupational safety is to promote quality of life for workers and prevent accidents. Thus, the measures adopted will ensure that employees do not have injuries, body aches, or daily limitations during the exercise of their professions.

Depending on each business, its objectives may vary, but most of the time the focus is similar. Job security can:

  • Reduce work-related accidents and illnesses, ensuring the integrity of employees;
  • Eliminate unworthy working conditions;
  • Raise awareness among companies to focus on health and well-being in the workplace;
  • Make sure that all Personal and Collective Protective Equipment is in excellent condition;
  • Conduct courses, seminars and workshops on good practices for preventing workplace accidents;
  • Follow the legislation in force in the country and adapt to each legal requirement.

How important is workplace safety?

The importance of occupational safety is to make all employees aware of health care. 

More and more companies are aware of the importance of following good practices, given that the rates of workplace accidents in Brazil are a concern.

In addition to being the second place in the ranking of G20 countries in deaths from accidents at work, Brazil's statistics worsened in 2021. According to ILO data, the country recorded a increase of 30% in deaths and accidents at work compared to the previous year. 

A date was even created on the calendar in memory of the victims. 

World Day of Remembrance for Victims of Accidents at Work (28/4) pays tribute and seeks to refocus attention on the importance of debating the subject in all companies.

Investing in workplace safety never hurts. As much as the costs may seem “expended”, it is essential to highlight that a safe work environment brings numerous benefits.

What are the benefits of job security in companies?

Adequate performance by the workplace safety team brings the benefits of reducing the number of leaves and absences due to health reasons. 

Furthermore, it will keep the company away from costly penalties for non-compliance with any current laws.

Promoting actions with the aim of generating greater health and safety at work increases the feeling of well-being at work. Providing adequate conditions for workers contributes to increased productivity. 

What are the three areas that occupational safety covers?

The three areas that occupational safety covers are:

  • Accidents prevention: Identification of risks, training, safety measures and personal protective equipment.
  • Occupational health: Control of work-related illnesses, medical evaluations and measures to promote worker health.
  • Working environment: Measures to ensure an adequate and comfortable working environment, with control of noise, temperature, lighting and air quality.

Work safety: what are NRs?

All occupational safety activities are governed by ordinance number 3,214 of the Ministry of Labor, which established the Regulatory Standards made up of 37 standards, laws and decrees. 

NRs are mandatory. They determine what workplace safety should be like in each type of company, as well as how the workforce should be sized and what penalties will be imposed in case of non-compliance with the law.

What does the CLT say about work safety?

At CLT, the characteristic provisions on Occupational Safety and Medicine are present in chapter V of Title II – General Labor Protection Norms, totaling 70 articles (from 154 to 223).

In general, it is clear that the purpose is to protect the health and physical and psychological integrity of the worker. The CLT serves as the basis for preparing NRs.

See what's in the Article 157 of the CLT

Art. 157 – Companies are responsible for: I – “comply with occupational safety and health standards; II – instruct employees, through service orders, regarding the precautions to be taken in order to… It is also up to employees to comply with work safety standards, in accordance with Art. 158, of the CLT.”

Occupational safety technician: what does he do?

The occupational safety technician is the one who creates ways to make the company's environment safer and who monitors whether the guidelines are being followed. To achieve his goal, he can hold seminars and lectures in order to raise awareness among everyone involved.

Everything must be thought of not only for employees, but also for employers. Both parties have obligations as you saw in the article CLT mentioned above and, if one part fails, it is inevitable that the other will be protected.

The functions of these professionals may vary according to the area of activity and level of training. 

Among the main components are: Occupational Safety Engineer, Occupational Safety Technician, Occupational Doctor, Occupational Nurse; between others. 

Occupational safety technician: when to hire?

From the moment the company starts its activities, it is necessary to hire an occupational safety technician. 

He will plan and implement all measures to prevent accidents and occupational illnesses. Furthermore, depending on the company's area of activity, this professional will be responsible for analyzing the risks of activities and, based on this, carrying out training and guiding employees. 

All of this will be done within Brazilian legislation, so hiring this professional is a legal obligation and an investment in the well-being of employees.

Which institutions monitor workplace safety?

The Ministry of Labor and Employment is the main institution overseeing occupational safety. It is up to the federal body to guide companies regarding compliance with established standards.

O Ministry of Labour has the power to close establishments and impose fines or sanctions. Furthermore, it may embargo works or any activities that pose conditions of serious risk to the integrity of workers. 

Trade unions also play an important role in workplace safety, which can carry out inspections in the event of complaints. 

Its responsibility is to evaluate working conditions and take appropriate measures in relation to the offending company.

What are the legal documents linked to occupational safety?

There are numerous documents that need to be up to date and with which worker protection is ensured. All of them aim to ensure occupational health and also meet legal requirements. 

The most used documents are:

  • PPRA (Environmental Risk Program);
  • PCMSO (Occupational Health Medical Control Program) — seeks to make early diagnoses and maintain control to prevent diseases;
  • ASO (Occupational Health Certificate);
  • PPP (Professiographic Social Security Profile) — given to the employee after dismissal or removal;
  • CAT(Occupational Accident Report) — created by the company after the occurrence of an accident;
  • AET(Ergonomic Work Analysis) – evaluates the adaptation of working conditions to the psychophysiological characteristics of the worker. 

Work safety: what are PPE and EPCs?

You PPE These are personal protective equipment. Already the EPCs, are collective protection equipment. 

They are essential for the safety of workers, as they prevent accidents, protecting them from daily risks.

The requirement for guidance on the use of PPE is set out in NR-6, which deals with the use of personal protective equipment in the workplace. PPE is any material used individually by the employee as a way of preventing injuries, such as: glasses, gloves, special shoes, etc.

EPCs are equipment installed in the environment, designed to protect the collective. The main items used as an example here are: cones, signs, banners, signaling items, etc. 

Remembering that the use of PPE does not exempt the use of EPCs, and vice versa.

Occupational safety: what is CIPA?

A CIPA is the Internal Accident Prevention Commission. This is a requirement of the Federal Government, in accordance with regulatory standard NR-5. It must be established in companies that have more than 20 employees. 

For companies that do not have this number, a person designated to act with CIPA's duties must be appointed.

This committee is made up of representatives of workers and the company who will carry out joint actions to prevent workplace accidents and occupational diseases. 

CIPA demands approved elections and results.

How can a company invest in workplace safety?

Preventing workplace accidents requires efforts in several areas. It takes good management, forecasting and planning, as well as a lot of commitment to evaluate and implement effective actions.

One way to start carrying out occupational safety awareness actions is to invest in periodic employee training. They will review the main internal procedures and always stay up to date with what is necessary in daily actions to maintain the safety of their activities.

iFood, for example, offers personal accident insurance, which since January 2022 has become mandatory for those who provide services through a delivery app. A Law 14,297/22 determines, but iFood has been offering this type of insurance since 2019, anticipating demand.

iFood is also the only company in the sector that offers coverage in case of temporary injury. 

iFood delivery partners are also covered by life insurance, with compensation for total or partial permanent injury and accidental death, and are reimbursed for medical, dental and hospital expenses.

Work safety sign

These signs must be present in risk areas, warning of dangers and preventing accidents. Finally, it is important that the information on the signs is clear and objective, following regulatory standards.

Find out more about what iFood offers to delivery partners.

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