Encouraging the culture of occupational safety and health needs of the hour


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Guwahati, April 28: There are several workplace safety challenges and this can directly impact workers both physically and mentally. From workplace accidents to work-related stress, upskilling workers in health, safety and well-being can go a long way in mitigating the risks associated with these challenges.

For example, the work culture in Japan has been criticized for its harsh working environment which often leads to health problems and general dissatisfaction. The highly competitive work culture has led to disastrous consequences that have sometimes led to “death from overwork”, the phenomenon is so common that the Japanese even coined a term for it: “karoshi”

The most common medical causes of karoshi death are heart attacks or strokes due to stress and starvation dieting or, in some cases, suicide when the pressure gets too much. This came to national and international attention in 2016 after a 24-year-old employee of advertising company Dentsu took her own life due to work stress.

However, with the help of government reforms and grassroots movements, the work culture in Japan is moving in a new direction. In 2018, the Japanese government passed the Work Style Reform Bill which attempts to modernize and improve Japan’s archaic work style by providing equal pay for equal work “to eliminate the gaps wages, capping excessive working hours to increase flexibility, as well as encouraging employees to take time off work.

In 2019, Ali Baba Group founder Jack Ma faced backlash when he praised China’s 996 work culture and called it a “blessing” for anyone to be part of the so-called “996 work culture”. The 996 gets its name from its requirement that employees work from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., 6 days a week; or 72 hours per week.

996 sparked a national debate as Chinese tech workers took to the internet to complain about work culture. Additionally, critics say the cultivation is a violation of Chinese law and have called it “modern slavery.”

According to Chinese labor law, a standard working day lasts eight hours, with a maximum of 44 hours per week. Any work beyond this requires additional overtime pay.

Last year, the 996 culture was ruled illegal by China’s Supreme People’s Court and issued a stern reminder to companies that such punitive work schedules are in fact illegal.

Keeping in mind the arduous working cultures around the world, World Day for Safety and Health at Work is celebrated annually on April 28 to shine a light on one of the overlooked issues in the workplace. The idea is to promote the prevention of accidents at work and occupational diseases on a global scale. It highlights the need to raise awareness of the magnitude of the problem and to encourage a culture of safety and health which can help reduce the number of work-related deaths and injuries.

World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2022 focuses on strengthening social dialogue towards a culture of safety and health. This day also marks the International Day of Remembrance of Dead and Injured Workers, organized around the world by the trade union movement since 1996.

A safe work environment is essential for both employees and employers. After all, the feeling of assurance that one will return safe and sound from work is more important than anything else.

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