Work safety: definition and how to improve it

The term occupational safety defines the set of measures and activities that can be developed to minimize or completely eliminate the risks arising from work. This set of measures can therefore reduce occupational accidents.

Work safety is essential for everyone
The latest available data on occupational accidents in Spain (2016) tell us about almost half a million occupational accidents in a year. Of the accidents that occurred at work, 496 were fatal. These figures are important since many of these accidents could have been avoided through proper training.

The construction sector is the one with the most occupational accidents in 2016 followed by the industry. We must therefore think that the need to promote safety at work is capital. Most of the accidents occurred to workers in charge of the production, transformation, treatment and storage of all kinds.

The need for an occupational risk prevention plan
The prevention of these accidents must begin by carrying out a work risk prevention plan. This plan will include measures to reduce the chances of injury or damage to workers in their jobs. These measures will be considered taking into account the work done by each worker and the place where they do their work.

The objective of this plan is to prevent occupational accidents and improve the occupational safety of all workers. This plan is mandatory by law for all companies with employees.

For this risk prevention plan it is necessary to study all the risks that result from the performance of the workers’ work as well as the work environment. This study of the work environment and the tasks to be developed allow experts to develop preventive measures.

It is important that this plan is applied to all workers, so it is essential that the company to know the same to all its employees. These must take into account in their chores the preventive measures included in the plan.

In addition, periodic checks should be carried out to assess the effectiveness of the risk prevention plan.

During these last years the number of occupational accidents has increased considerably according to the new publication of the statistics of occupational accidents, a document prepared by the Ministry of Labor that collects the latest figures for the year 2018, with the last ones published in May. It is estimated that every 24 hours, at least, 1 person loses his life, a figure that remains chilling.

In fact, the last fatal accident is that of a 25-year-old man with a tractor in Villanueva de la Reina two days ago. This person died after being trapped by his own vehicle after he had overturned it.

According to the data published by the statistics of occupational accidents on the website of the Ministry of Labor, only between January and May there were 541,098 accidents, of which 245,922 were with leave. One of the most outstanding data is that in the first five months of the year 205 people have been killed, which implies that at least one person dies a day. Also, considering the rest of the results, we can calculate that at least 11 people suffer serious accidents.

Taking into account the different labor sectors, the one that suffers the most accidents, fatal or not, is that of the manufacturing industry, followed by trade / vehicle repairs and construction.

With regard to the autonomous communities that suffer the most accidents, the three with the most accidents are those of Andalusia, Catalonia and Madrid respectively.

Without a doubt, the training of workers is a main element to take into account for the prevention of accidents, whether fatal, serious or minor. That is why, among the causes for which the number of accidents remains high, we find a lack of adequate training for prevention.

Following article 19 of Law 31/1995 on Prevention of Occupational Risks, the employer must ensure that each worker receives the theoretical and practical training, sufficient and adequate in the preventive matter. This training should always be offered, regardless of the duration of the worker in the company.

Likewise, the training must be adapted to the job to be performed, adapt to the evolution of the risks and the appearance of new ones, periodically repeating this training if necessary.

What is work safety?

Occupational safety is the discipline framed in the prevention of occupational hazards whose objective is the application of measures and the development of the activities necessary for the prevention of occupational hazards. It is a set of techniques and procedures that result in eliminating or reducing the risk of accidents.

The company is a workplace that must maintain standards and have optimal conditions so that employees can develop their work activity in the best possible way and with the greatest safety.

The priority of Workplace Safety is to avoid serious and fatal work accidents. If we look at the statistics of the last decades, we observe that workers die at work mainly due to traffic accidents, cardiovascular diseases, falls from heights, electrical contacts, blows and falling loads in logistics activities and access to confined spaces without the mandatory ones. security measures.

With the exception of cardiovascular diseases that are prevented from areas more related to Health, the rest are tackled from the Occupational Safety specialty. In order to combat these accidents at work we have to take into account the main cause that causes them; “the human factor”, therefore the main tools to prevent them are training, information, and the application of work procedures through which companies can minimize the risk that their workers may suffer accidents. ”

Occupational safety implies that there are no risks that harm workers’ health. For this, technicians or specialists in occupational risk prevention must identify, evaluate and control the hazards or risks associated with the work activity and promote training activities and measures aimed at preventing and avoiding these risks.

Getting the employees of an organization to have the best conditions in occupational safety is the responsibility of the employer, who can directly assume this mission by entrusting this task to people in his company or hire a company specialized in occupational risk prevention to lend him external advice It is the employer’s obligation to inform and train his workers of the scope of the risks derived from his work, as well as to put the means to avoid them.

The manufacturers and suppliers of machinery, equipment, products and work tools that will be used in the production process are also obliged to comply with labor safety standards.

At the international level, the main body that regulates the rules and regulations to monitor occupational safety is the OITE. This link will open in a new window (International Labor Organization), which is the entity responsible for the permanent improvement of working conditions. It is an organization belonging to the United Nations, formed by governments, companies and workers that establishes agreements and standards to constantly improve working conditions.

Halma PR Services Detection

Workers who are exposed to the same risks (homogenous group) together assume a leading role in preventing those risks. The homogeneous group is then the basic unit in monitoring all aspects of our working conditions and environment that can be aggressive for our health.

That is why we seek to identify risk factors and systematize them in a registry. Risk is the probability that the ability to cause damage is verified in the conditions of use or exposure.

The main objective of risk assessment is prevention because what you are looking for is:

– Determine existing hazards in the workplace and assess the risks associated with them in order to establish appropriate measures for the protection of workers’ health and safety.

– Evaluate the risks to choose the most appropriate work equipment, conditioning and organization of the workplace, the substances to be used, etc.

– Check if the existing measures are adequate.

From here, the priorities are established.

Once the proposed preventive measures and working methods are put into practice, it is necessary to assess whether they really ensure greater protection for workers’ health and safety.

In places where conditions change frequently, such as construction, the risk assessment must take these changes into account.

Whenever an innovation is going to be introduced in the workplace, a risk assessment must be carried out. For example, when new equipment or materials are introduced, new processes, modifications in the organization of work, etc.

Care must be taken that the control measures applied after the evaluation do not cause a transfer of risk: that it passes to another area or that it generates a new risk.

It is important to take into account the presence in the workplace of employees of other companies: they will also be exposed to risks, but in addition their work can generate risks for stable employees of the work.

Methodology for risk assessment

There are no fixed standards and there are many ways and methods for risk assessment. But it is always important to keep in mind that you have to study all the dangerous elements and important risks. For example, do not forget tasks such as cleaning. And when a risk is identified, the first thing to evaluate is whether it can be eliminated.

For risk assessment we must rely on:

The observation of the workplace environment: access roads, machinery safety, presence of dust, temperature, noise, lighting, etc.

Identification of all tasks performed in the workplace so that none is excluded. Then we study each of these tasks, with observations, while the work is being done.

Study of external factors (such as weather conditions) and in general the factors that can influence or cause stress in the workplace.

In some cases a single evaluation may be sufficient, but in general a process with several successive phases is necessary in which our knowledge is deepened and made more precise. It must also be taken into account that in an industry such as construction, conditions change permanently.


Why? It is a legal obligation for the employer (Article 16 of the Occupational Risk Prevention Law). What is it for? Risk assessment is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end: to control the risks to avoid damages to the health derived from the work (accidents and professional illnesses) saving social and economic costs to the country and its own company. Who has to do it?
They can perform the risk assessment:
• The entrepreneur himself.
• Company workers appointed by the employer.
• Own Prevention Services.
• External Prevention Services.
The employer must decide who will carry out the risk assessment, although the selection must be carried out in consultation with the workers and / or their representatives.
In any case, the employer is ultimately responsible for ensuring the safety and health of the workers of his company.

When is it to be done?
From the entry into force of Law 31/1995, of November 8, Prevention of Occupational Risks. The risk assessment should be extended, initially, to the entire company.
Subsequently, it must be carried out in the jobs that are affected by:
• Modifications in work equipment, chemical substances or preparations, or conditioning of workplaces.
• A change in working conditions.
• The incorporation of a worker whose personal characteristics or known biological status
make it especially sensitive to the conditions of the position.
How is it done?
There are different ways to carry out a risk assessment, many of them are contained in specific regulations; In other cases, INSHT can provide you with different methodologies designed and validated for it and inform you of which one may be the most suitable according to the activity of your company.
Can I do it myself?
Anyone who performs a risk assessment of a company should have knowledge of the following aspects:
• Characteristics of workplaces, concrete activities carried out by workers, chemical substances, tools, machines, facilities and transport systems used in the company, as well as knowledge about their properties and state and about the instructions for their management.
• Knowledge of the different risks existing in the sector of activity in question, their most common causes and their most likely effects.
• Legal requirements and provisions, regulations and norms related to the sector to which your company belongs.

In many cases, the employer with the help of those workers who have knowledge and experience in these matters, and being advised by the appropriate organizations, can perform the risk assessment of your company. However, in other cases where activities are carried out in the company or equipment or products are used whose risks are relatively difficult to assess if specialized knowledge or technical means are not available, because specific analyzes or measurements are required, it will be necessary to resort to to external services.
In any case, the small or medium-sized entrepreneur has certain advantages for carrying out the risk assessments by himself, among them is the precise knowledge of the activities, organization and means of his own company and the fact that the risks are quite common in the same sector of activity and should be known by the entrepreneur.