Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dissertation on Health and Safety

Dissertation on Health and Safety

According to Bohle and Quinlan (1999:xii), the cost of workplace injuries and disease is in excess of $20 billion dollars per year. Obviously, these figures are alarming and would suggest that OHS would be a top priority for management. However, a survey from Queensland manufacturer revealed that many companies had no written policy regarding occupational health and safety" and" 48 percent have no formalized occupational health and safety program".

A relatively high level of risks and hazards would occur in the restaurant industry comparing with other industries. People who work in the food industry would easily injury in hazards including gas, noise, fire, personal security and violence at work, biological hazards, sharps - skin penetrating injuries and hazardous substances (chemicals). However, both restaurant employee and employer would avoid falling into the trap of the "reactive approach", which involves only responding to health and safety problems as they arise or after the accident has happened. They would have different kinds of excuses used for not being proactive about health and safety and include, "we do not worry about safety as it's common sense" or "accidents are just bad luck" These excuses send the message that they are not really serious about OHS.


Baseline for the Workplace
Nature of the workplace
China house is a Chinese restaurant that owned by a Hong Kong couple. This restaurant is located in the heart of the Surface Paradise. The restaurant open 7 days a week, from 11am to 11pm. The styles of food that the restaurant will provide are typically Chinese food. Such as fired rice, black bean chicken, dim sum, and etc. It approximately around 70 -120 customers per day, the amount of customers is depends whether it is a public holiday, weekday or weekend.

There are six part times stuff work in the Chinese restaurant. There are only two shifts per day, from 11 am to 5pm and 5pm to 11pm. And there are usually two people working in the morning shift (from 11am to 5pm) and three to four people working at night shift (from 5pm to 11pm). For the kitchen, there are three chief working inside, one is to make dim sum, and the other two are cooking chief. And they almost need to attend work everyday.

Organizational structure
Since a couple owns the restaurant, and it is a small family business as well, basically there is no manager or any senior staff at all. The women (one of the owner) will control the operational outside, and the other owner (the men) will look after the kitchen since he is a chief of himself.

Safety Responsibilities and Legislative Requirements
Ultimately management has the major responsibility for ensuring worker safety. Even the best legislation cannot force management to adopt safety measures, when there is ?blame the victim? approach. Simpson (1999:326) argues that the tradition purpose of considering employees in accident causality was to assign blame. However, through training and education, Hopkins and Bohle (2000:501) argue a trend away from the ?blame the victims? towards considering work environments and systems.

The Work Health and Safety Act (WHSA) (1995) point out the requirements and duties of both employers and employees. Within all workplaces (except mines), owners/managers and all employees have some level of responsibility for Health and Safety under this legislation (refer Part 3, ss. 23-36; WHSA).

Safety Information Systems
The management of China House Restaurant has carried out a series of OHS policies and procedures based on the government legislation. They have commitment and try to put more effort to improve OHS by establishing a management system that incorporates OHS into the production area. They keep on the day-to-day administration of health and safety in the workplace and raising the awareness of health and safety amongst their employees to provide a healthier and safer working environment. They would give on-the-job training and induction to employees. For example, they teach kitchen staff the detailed and standardized procedures for the use of deep fryers, with particular attention to the cleaning, filtering and removal of oil and grease. There are some visible safety signs and reminders to remind employees the awareness of OHS. Management would also consult their employee regarding some health and safety issues. However, the consultation time is limited due to the heavy workload of the restaurant. Candy, the owner of the restaurant reflected that it is very difficult to carry out a comprehensive OHS system with the restriction of time and capital. She said that they would try the best to create a safety and happy environment to their employees

Emergency Systems for Treatment and Evacuation
There is no emergency action plan for this Chinese restaurant. But there are fire exits located in the restaurant. However fire extinguishers for electrical, paper/wood are located in several areas of the store. (Complies with- AS 1841: 1). The maintenance of all fire protection equipment is up to date (AS 1851: 2). Also, there is a first aid kit located inside the restaurant. (Advisory Standard for First Aid, 1999:3)

Analysis of Occupational Health and Safety Data
There is one information booklet record about any workplace accident/injuries. Since it is a very new Chinese restaurant, there is not yet any accident or injuries happen before. However, the owner of the restaurant instructed their entire stuff member that report to them as soon as possible if any incident happen.

Audit and Assessment of Workplace Safety
Interviews with the storeowner and a number of staff members, a "walk through" was done to identify and assess any hazards in the workplace.

Hazard Identification and Characterization
There are number of hazard I had been identified during the walk through, the following table will going to identified the risk of the restaurant are below:
Hazard Potential RiskStress High Risk*Bacteria (food prep & Storage) Moderate Risk*Sharp Moderate Risk*Noise Low RiskElectrical Low RiskFire Low RiskKitchen item Low Risk.

Customer service is the most important thing in every restaurant, no matter how unhappy and sad the staff are, they always need to keep their smile on their face, secondly, there workload will increased depends on the quality of the customers, and sometimes staff may not be enough, and once again, they need to keep smiling, no matter how tired and exhausted they are.

Bacteria (food prep & Storage)
Seafood must be stored in an organized places, however, during the walk through, I found out that their fish tank are not probably clean. Therefore their seafood will not last long once they put it into that tank. Secondly, the freezer where they stored frozen food is not probably organized as well (frozen food are just everywhere in that fridge).

Sharp object such as knife has been lying around the cash register area, since fruit storage are around that area, and it is convince for the staff member to cut fruits in order to serve the customer, however, since it is a sharp object, incident can happen if sharp object do not handle carefully.

Exposure Assessment and Evaluation of Health Risks to Employees
All of the staff member will performed similar duty in the different shift, however, night shift can be more stress than the morning shift. Since there will be more customers compare with the morning shift, and especially if there is a public holiday. (Such as Chinese New Year). The health risk can be cut by sharp object if knife do not use and handle probably. (Refer to WHSA ACT s24)

Analysis and Evaluation of Existing Workplace Health Policies
Health and Safety Policy
The owner of the restaurant does not have a written health and safety policy. However they always remind their employees how the restaurant must be conducted in order to have a safe environment.

Programs in place
Except the kitchen staff, most of the work force in China House is young casual workers; they have a much higher incidence than full-time permanent workers. They did recognized the importance of OHS, however, they did not recognize that they had trained to do this, as they did not interpret on-the-job training as proper training.

Yet, they still try to involve in the OHS issues. They would wear protective footwear in the workplace to reduce the risk of slips and falls on the wet floor. In order to reduce muscle fatigue, they would split loads when carrying numerous plates although it is time consuming.

Communication and reporting structures
The owner of the restaurant encourage his employees to give feedback all the time whenever there is a concerned or anything that need to be improved. The owner always uses verbal communication instead of written format of report. Also the owner always use verbal communication to tell their employees about their work performance and where need to be improve.

Recommendations and Action Plan
China house have a sound standard of health and safety, there are several issue that need to be concerned and improved in order to have a better health and safety environment. Recommendation will be made in regard that need the owner concerned. The recommendations are as follow:

Improved storage- Storage area must be clean daily if possible, and need to store it efficiency. By doing the above, it?s easier for the chef to look for their food whenever the customer order, it will save a lot of time.

Signs- More signs need to be put up in the toilet area, such as hand washing signs and exit signs as well whenever there is a firebreak out. And instruction signs of fire extinguisher need to be put up as well.

Appoint a Workplace Health and Safety Representative- this would further improve workplace communication and information sharing in relation to health and safety issues within the restaurant.

Manual handing- They also need to provide practical materials that can be customized to suit the working environment. For example, they can enforce the policies on manual handling, including maximum weight to be lifted.

First Aid Kit- They should have a first aid kit in the kitchen instead of outside the dining area, if there anything accident /injury happen, people can get help as soon as they can if first aid kit is around.

A good health and safety management plan can lead to vary benefit to the business. Investing effort into OHS and a safe environment can give employees and customer?s confidence that their business is responsible. This helps create a higher degree of ownership and incentive, which lead to an overall improvement in productivity and customer service. Maintaining a safer and healthier workplace will also save the cost associated with work related injury or illness. Such costs result from production down time, injured employees working slower, and cost of replacing employees or overtime of existing employees. Every dollar invested in safety and prevention protects business profit.

However, many issues remain to be addressed and research and information regarding occupational health and safety in Australia at present insufficient, and needs to be improved for the benefit of all parties involved. Finally, it was shown that despite the time it has taken for action, there is possible hope for greater concern towards OHS issues in the future.

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