Is your workplace safe?

How workplace safety can be improved

By Antoinette Price

When people go to work, they usually expect to carry out their activities in a healthy and safe environment. It is up to employers and workers to do all they can to make the workplace safe for all who enter it.

etech_wld_5_train car functional safety
Automatic doors are programmed to stay shut throughout the ride

Workplace dangers

There are many possible hazards in the workplace, such as automatic doors, which should open and close with enough time to pass through safely. On trains or subways, you want them to remain closed for the travel duration. Cranes on building sites which could collapse due to overload, causing possible harm to humans or damage to property. Chemicals or other hazardous materials that are used during production processes or stored at the work place.

On 28 April, the International Labour Organization (ILO) will celebrate the World Day for safety and health at work with the theme, 'Join in building a culture of prevention on occupational safety and health (OSH)'.

Minimizing risk at work

Electric and electronic devices and systems in the workplace can potentially cause harm to people or the environment, if they don’t have built-in safety mechanisms, which reduce potential risks to an acceptable level.

IEC work ensures the dependability and functional safety of such devices and systems. IEC Technical Committee (TC) 56 for example, has published an International Standard that provides systematic methods and tools for the assessment of risks and reliability of equipment, services and systems throughout their life cycles. IEC International Standards in tandem with IEC Conformity Assessment Systems also help identify electrical hazards that can impact workers or property. They allow to determine safety needs and minimum risk reduction requirements for electric safety, covering topics such as electric shock, fire and burns, explosions, biological and chemical effects, magnetic and electromagnetic fields, radiation, leakage of current, mechanical and environmental hazards.

These and many other IEC International Standards help ensure the dependability and reliability of the electric and electronic tools that are used by workers.

A myriad of tiny sensors enable safety mechanisms, such as those found in automatic doors or gates. They are also part of the safety system which triggers airbags in cars. Safety valves, pressure sensors and ultrasonic transmitters and receivers ensure that if medical devices fail, they trigger alarms or stop administering drugs.

However, technology can only do so much. In addition to built-in safety features, people need to take all necessary precautions, follow safety procedures, read manuals thoroughly, and double-check how they use technology.

About World Day for safety and health at work

Since 2003, the ILO has observed the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on the 28 April to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally. It is an awareness-raising campaign intended to focus international attention on emerging trends in the field of occupational safety and health and on the magnitude of work-related injuries, diseases and fatalities worldwide.

Airbags Airbags inflate upon impact, saving lives
etech wld 5 Electrical panel Electrical control panel
etech_wld_5_train car functional safety Automatic doors are programmed to stay shut throughout the ride