The relationship between occupational health and safety vulnerability and workplace injury

This study employs a recently developed conceptual framework and measurement tool that moves beyond defining occupational health and safety (OH&S) vulnerability using population or occupational characteristics, and instead examines how work and workplace characteristics shape an individual worker's risk of injury (Smith et al., 2015). The measurement tool captures information on four dimensions of OH&S vulnerability: (1) exposure to workplace hazards; (2) workplace safety policies and procedures; (3) worker awareness of health and safety-related rights and responsibilities; and (4) worker empowerment to act to protect themselves and colleagues. The conceptual framework posits that in isolation exposure to workplace hazards, or poor access to protective policies and procedures, awareness or empowerment places workers at increased risk of injury but that the greatest risk arises for workers who are both exposed to hazards and experience one or more deficits in resources to manage these hazards. We contend that ‘vulnerability' arises from exposure to on-the-job hazards in conjunction with inadequate access to resources (policies and procedures, awareness or empowerment) to mitigate the effects of these risks.

Source: A. Morgan Lay, Ron Saunders, Marni Lifshen, F. Curtis Breslin, Anthony D. LaMontagne, Emile Tompa et Peter M. Smith. (2017). Safety Science, 85–93.

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