ROLES OF OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY SPECIALISTS AND ASSOCIATED PROFESSIONAL DIFFICULTIES
I see the job of Occupational Safety Specialist as CONSULTING that will, first of all, help build a safe work environment, and assist the employer in taking the necessary measures so that the employees can continue their lives, and the employer can continue its business life.
Within this context, I would like to mention our duties and responsibilities.
Recommendations are made regarding the design of the workplace, in other words, the status, location, maintenance, when necessary, selection, and positioning of the machinery and other equipment in relation to works and changes that will be made at the workplace.
In light of these recommendations, a risk assessment in terms of Occupational Health and Safety, in other words, a “Risk Analysis Report” is prepared. In this analysis report, any health and safety measures that must be taken at the workplace are set out. Another report is the “Emergency Response Plan” in order to prevent or minimise the effects of circumstances such as explosion, fire or sabotage. The actions to be taken, the path to be followed, and who will be in charge in emergency circumstances must be pre-determined.
It is amongst the duties of the occupational safety specialist to make the necessary follow up in order to ensure that the measures designated in the report are taken properly and timely.
The role of occupational safety specialists, which I prefer calling as Occupational Safety Advisors, is really difficult today. Although a significant part of the task of determining the required measures, informing the rules that must be observed to the employer in writing is accomplished in the risk analysis report, you have to explain the laws to the employer in every step you will take or cause to be taken at the workplace, and cause the same to be performed under, most of the time, difficult conditions. If you cannot make any progress, you have to keep a report, although you do not wish to do so. However, this is something we have to do as part of the responsibilities of our job.
Another important task which is grouped under the heading of Periodical Controls is ensuring comfort at the working environment, and performance of maintenances, inspections and measurements pursuant to the legislation. Electric power, which is one of the major energy resources of present day, is also among the primary risks. Therefore, internal electrical installation must be proper, earthing measurements must be made and reported, and all equipment running with electric power must be checked. The follow-up of, and making recommendations on, such controls and measurements are also amongst the duties of the Occupational Safety Advisors.
All this work is aimed at diagnosing, before occurrence, and preventing any work accidents that have the potential to cause harm to employees and to the workplace. If we encounter an undesirable accident, in other words, an occupational accident, it is amongst the duties of the occupational specialist to investigate whether the relevant recommendations were observed or not, what actions were neglected and contributed to occurrence of such accident, and to report the same.
The roles of occupational safety specialists are not limited to the above. One of their primary duties is to provide training to employees within periods as prescribed in the regulations on occupational health and safety, and to issue certificates for those who successfully complete such trainings. Another main task of the occupational safety specialist is to determine the scope of such trainings to be applied and provide the most appropriate training for the relevant person or position.
Occupational safety specialist must always act based on plans. They must prepare an Annual Work Plan by considering the activities and an Annual Training Plan by considering the training activities of the next one-year period. They share such plans with the employer and cause them to be implemented. It is also our responsibility to observe such plans and follow up the same. However, the work of preparation of such reports must be performed in coordination with the Workplace Doctor.
The occupational safety specialist reports such plans, and keeps the files at either his company or at the CHSU to which he/she is attached.
The difficulties we face as part of our profession are partly due to the mandatory nature of the law, and the heavy fines imposed. The enterprises see this service as an extra cost burden. There are times when we, occupational safety specialists, find it difficult to convince or even work with workplace owners. Although it is mostly difficult, workplace owners agree to cooperate when they understand that prevention of work accidents and occupational diseases will return to them as gain. But we cannot generalise these approaches.
Another field where we face with difficulties is related to use of materials and equipment. Our society, in general, has the approach that they would not be harmed.
Efforts to convince the managers or employers who believe that occupational safety specialists cause them time loss is also amongst the most difficult tasks of our profession. As a specialist who loves and is devoted to his job, I would say “PREVENTING COSTS LESS THAN PAYING”……