Don't let unhealthy work practices go unchecked

Office workers at Singapore's financial district.
Office workers at Singapore's financial district.PHOTO: ST FILE

There was a time when I had to work in a poorly ventilated office with faulty lights which were not replaced for a good period of time (Useless masks, missing earplugs, March 31).

Small companies with an apathetic management struggling for survival are usually more concerned with profits and cost controls, rather than focusing on the health and safety of their staff.

Workplace health and safety issues, which may or may not be highlighted, often take a back seat as bosses adopt an "if it ain't seriously broken, don't fix it" mentality.

These unhealthy practices left unchecked will result in detrimental repercussions, both to the staff and organisation, in the long run.

We spend around one-third of our time at work daily. If work is making us sick or even causing death, shouldn't bosses care? Shouldn't we take responsibility for our own well-being too?

Workers who flout safety rules at work should think twice too. Some are too fearful to highlight occupational hazards as their livelihood may be at stake. Others may just assume a "not my problem" approach if their work does not entail such risks.

Prevention is better than cure. We should not wait for things to happen and gamble with human lives. When occupational diseases and deterioration of workers' health set in, the road to recovery may be long and costly, not forgetting the stress on their loved ones and caregivers.

Do we really need alarming statistics before adequate emphasis is given to workplace safety and health? Businesses that have the wrong priorities or are nonchalant about such issues may lose more than they can imagine.

What we do not wish to see, on top of a rapidly ageing population, is a public health crisis due to unsafe and unhealthy work practices.

Sharon Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2019, with the headline 'Don't let unhealthy work practices go unchecked'. Print Edition | Subscribe