Practical solutions for Occupational Health
WHO considers the workplace as a priority setting for occupational health protection and promotion. The workplace can have a very positive impact on the health and well-being of workers, their families, communities and society at large. WHO strongly feels there is a need to turn to practical solutions to amplify the impact at the workplace.
The concept of toolkits for health and safety management was developed at WHO. Toolkits are essentially frameworks and practical approaches to address key health and safety issues. They explicate a particular approach to managing such issues supported by an explanation and discussion of the necessary supporting concepts, principles, processes and procedures. Each toolkit has a particular and declared focus and may incorporate a wide range of tools which can be used in the application of the framework that it is built around. The different toolkits themselves build into the ToolBox for health and safety management.
Control Banding is an approach to risk assessment and management that groups workplace risks into “control bands” based on a combination of hazard and exposure information. It can be applied to chemicals and other workplace hazards.
Psychosocial risk management
The Psychosocial Risk Management Toolkit idea is based on the Control Banding concept for chemicals. However, the menu-driven approach is not appropriate for psychosocial hazards due to their complexity and context-dependence. Psychosocial hazards require the consideration of social and organizational contexts. In addition, exposure to different types of hazards can contribute to different forms of harm. For example, exposure to organic solvents may have a psychological effect on the person through their direct effects on the brain, through the unpleasantness of their smell or through fear that such exposure might be harmful. Physical hazards can affect health through psycho-physiological as well as physico-chemical pathways. We know that both physical and psychosocial hazards have the potential for detrimentally effecting social and psychological health as well as physical health. Therefore, we have to think about psychosocial hazards as risks to psychological and physical health.
More toolkits are under development on ergonomics and safety.