Safety and health at work always go together and are more interconnected than you might think, they work together directly in the conditions in which the employee performs their activities in the work environment.

This dynamic happens mainly because both have a common goal, the protection of everyone and the provision of well-being, which are extremely fundamental for the quality of life. 

Despite this strong connection between the two, safety and health are totally different sciences, that is, each has its intervention instruments. Both, however, are equally regulated by the Regulatory Norms of the Ministry of Labor

Workplace safety

Occupational safety can be understood as the sets of measures that are adopted to minimize work accidents, occupational diseases, as well as protect the integrity and work capacity of the worker, in addition to protecting their life from possible accidents in the work environment.

Occupational safety is focused on the identification, assessment, and control of risk situations, to which workers are exposed to the most diverse activities in their work environment. By mapping the site’s risks, the team in charge draws up a series of standards, procedures, and physical adaptations to the environment so that the risks inherent in each activity can be reduced.

In addition, there is also the study of statistical data on accidents and diseases with a view to adopting preventive measures in each area. Among the main objectives, three aspects can be highlighted: reduction of work accidents, promotion of occupational health, and reduction of fire risks. It is based on these three aspects that work safety develops its activities.

Safety, therefore, has a preventive nature, thus the following are considered safety measures:

  • The concern with the facilities, so that they do not present risks of accidents;
  • The guidance on the procedures adopted to prevent risk situations;
  • The indication of safe practices, such as the most appropriate methodologies and the necessary protective equipment for each activity.

These duties (to analyze, guide, and decide on safety at work) are restricted to the Occupational Safety Engineer and the occupational safety technician

With this program in hand, the company is able to recognize, assess and control risks by minimizing the causative agents, when possible, or by recommending the use of Collective or Personal Protection Equipment (EPCs and PPEs)

  • Identify process risks in the various functions of the company;
  • Develop a work plan with preventive safety actions;
  • Implement risk prevention measures;
  • Evaluate action priorities in the work environment;
  • Make periodic inspections in all sectors of the company, in order to update the preventive safety action plan.

Health at work

Occupational Health, in turn, is the set of surveillance and assistance actions, aimed at promoting, protecting, recovering, and rehabilitating the health of workers subjected to risks and injuries arising from work processes.

Occupational Health Surveillance comprises a continuous and systematic action, over time, in the sense of detecting, knowing, researching, and analyzing the determining and conditioning factors of health problems related to work processes and environments, in their technological aspects, social, organizational, and epidemiological, with the purpose of planning, executing and evaluating interventions on these aspects, in order to eliminate or control them.

The health at work should include evaluation of the working capacity of the employee and their health conditions to start its activities in the company, as well as the way out. This goal is achieved by performing:

  • Pre-employment occupational examinations;
  • Periodic occupational exams;
  • Occupational examinations for changing or returning to function;
  • Dismissal occupational exams

Another important occupational health document is the Ergonomic Analysis, established by Regulatory Standard, whose main objective is to identify the functions and objects of the professional, observing the existence of ergonomic risks.

There is also an assessment of the levels of noise, light, and temperature in the environment that can affect the health of employees — not only physical but also mental. This is because adverse conditions can bring negative impacts to the employee’s emotional, as serious as the physical impacts.

It is up to the employer to ensure the mental integrity of its employees, seeking to establish an environment that brings support and comfort and avoiding feelings such as sadness, guilt, or incapacity.

The relationship between safety and health at work

Occupational health and safety work together and complement each other, seeking to ensure a better, safer, and healthier professional environment. And now that you know what the assignments of each are, let’s comment on the dynamics between them.

It is with safety and health at work that companies guarantee a series of advantages, such as:

  • Reduction of the risks of accidents at work;
  • Promotion of a more ergonomically suitable environment;
  • Reduction of cases of occupational diseases;
  • Establishment of better physical and psychological working conditions for employees;
  • Increase of the company’s organization with the elaboration of risk plans;
  • Decrease in expenses with payment of fines or indemnities due to non-compliance with labor standards;
  • Increased quality of life in the work environment and, with it, greater productivity on the part of employees.

These goals cannot be achieved if the Regulatory Norms provided for in the Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLT) are not complied with. Currently, there are 36 NRs approved in the legislation, the most important for safety and health at work being.

  • NR5, which provides for the formation of an Internal Accident Prevention Commission
  • NR6, which makes the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) mandatory
  • NR7, which regulates the Occupational Health Medical Control Program
  • NR9, which regulates the Environmental Risk Prevention Program
  • NR17, which regulates Ergonomic Analysis.

Failure by the employer to comply with the NRs on occupational health and safety entails a series of consequences — such as the payment of fines, legal proceedings, and even the banning of the property or the suspension of activities.

Within the company, everyone is responsible for ensuring a safer and healthier environment, but the employer is fully responsible for adopting measures to maintain safety and also to preserve the health of its employees.

Finally, we can say that these two factors are mainly related because the concern with both aspects is what guarantees the worker’s quality of life and well-being within the work environment, providing a series of benefits to the company and despite being different and each having its proper intervention mechanisms, application instruments and attributions, both are interconnected and do not exist without the other within a company.