By Aung Kyaw Thant
IF A workplace has been established, it must be healthy. If so, those working at the workplace will be free from the impacts of health hazards. On the other hand, employees working in relevant sections of the workplace must be healthy. As such, those workers may stay away from infection of diseases each other in time if any disease breaks out. Moreover, the authorities will have adequate time to take preventive measures against infectious diseases in the workplace.
Importance of employees’ health
I would like to recount my experience which faced about the last decade for enabling the readers to review the past event with regard to the importance of health for workers and the emergence of healthy workplaces.
At that time, I worked at a company. So, I will start my presentation from the event of a head of the branch from the company. The head of the branch worked at the office next to the corner of the hall where computers were placed in accord with the nature of the work. His office was facilitated with an air-conditioner. But he missed the chance to close his office because many staff and employees frequently enter his office to seek orders, instructions and decisions as well as to coordinate some challenges of daily work to be overcome. As such, the breezing air released from the air-conditioner went out of the office all the time.
Start of cough
One day, the head of a branch was ill. He suffered from coughing. It seemed he might be caught a cold from some places. His coughs were very noisy not only in his office but in the whole hall where all the employees worked. According to the structure display of the hall, computers could not be settled in a separate pool. These were placed in a corner of the hall. These computers run by computer operators were displayed in a row. In addition, the corner was combined with a large laser printer and a photocopier. Some computers handled by employees were settled in front of the office of the head of the branch. According to the nature of the workplace, as the hall was formed with many computers, it was equipped with three air-conditioners. So, if anyone who arrived in the hall to start the daily works forgot to switch on the air-conditioners, he might automatically cough due to facing worse smell and dust released from computers and printers. The ailing head of the branch coughed for similar reasons.
Unfortunately, the coughing of the head of the branch could not easily be cured. After two weeks, some staff and employees urged the head of the branch to take a medical checkup. But it was not easy for him because he could not afford to leave the office duties when he took medical checkups as he did not have any day off every week. Regularly, he started office work from 2 pm but his duties might not finish at even 2 am and more. An office missing chance to enjoy the day-off all year round faced a health hazard due to some 16 long working hours a day.
After one month, the body of the head of the branch looked thin. So, he tried to take a medical checkup without fail. At that time, everybody was sad about the answers to the medical examination, showing that the head of the branch was suffering from the Multidrug Resistant TB disease. Hence, he took medical treatment without fail. But he still missed the chance to enjoy the day off from the workplace while receiving medical treatments. Whatever it may be, medical treatment for the head of the branch successfully was accomplished and then happily continued at his workplace. That being so, an employee was suffering from TB disease although anyone could not definitely tell that the employee was infected by TB virus from the head of the branch but the Multidrug Resistant TB disease. In addition, a daughter of the head of the branch who lived at home together with her father head of branch was also a victim of the Multidrug Resistant TB disease.
Need to reconsider day-off for officers
Firstly, I would like to highlight the disadvantages based on discharging the burden of duties with pressures on a daily basis without any day off. It is necessary to review the impacts of dangerous diseases on the head of the branch based on the non-stop duties triggered by an unfavourably daily routine. The government sets eight working hours for every staff and employee. But, most of the employees including the head of the branch served their duties during the more than eight hours period. Some of them including the head of the branch suffered from work pressures and the burden of assignments due to a lack of day-off.
Moreover, as computers and printers commonly used in the hall could not be settled in the separate pool, these were placed in the hall together with staff and their computers. In fact, it was a terrible mistake. Although five air-conditioners including one from the head of the branch were installed there, the room windows of the hall were not opened. It was the nature of the computer room. But, staff from the branch missed the chance to breathe the fresh air outside. At that time, it was designed for staff to work there to breathe carbon dust emitted from the machinery on a daily basis. Moreover, the head of the branch suffering from the disease missed the chance to take any leave for his relaxation. In addition, the head of the branch could not work in a separate office, and he allowed the opening of the door for his staff. As a result, whenever he was coughing, a virus from his mouth spread into the room.
Other staff serving their assignments at the workplace where there was a TB patient missed the chance to take proper medical checkups. Even those staff did not have adequate knowledge that, if necessary, they should take medical checks due to the spreading out of the TB virus. Hence, another staff apart from the head of the branch was infected by the TB virus. It was an acceptable event. As a worse event, a daughter of the head of the branch also became a victim of the Multidrug Resistant TB disease.
Take lessons from the past events
The event was left in the past. But we all need to take a lesson from past events not to cause similar occurrences and to remedy the impacts of mistakes. All staff and officials need to know the dos and don’ts of the disease with comprehensive knowledge of the nature of diseases. As we all work in the offices and departments, we must have proper levels of knowledge. Hence, we all must be strong and sharpen in all incidents.
Administrative officials on their part should arrange the healthcare services for staff at all times without emphasizing just regular operation of the workplace. In this regard, the medical checkup should be given to staff once six months or once a year. The event of being infected should not be identified as the fortune of staff. If healthcare services cannot be provided for staff despite wishing to utilize the strengths of staff at full capacity, it cannot be assumed that it is fair. If necessary, the settlement of man and materials should be reformed in order to be a better location for workplaces. It is necessary to review the consequences of settling the machinery and staff together. If such a process of settling the man and machinery together cannot be avoided, it is necessary to consider how to provide healthcare services to the staff for their long-term health conditions since the project was drawn. If so, all participants from the workplace can avoid unexpected losses.
Indeed, such an event of realities showed the head of the branch’s weakness in health knowledge. An overload of his duties was the root cause to happen the unacceptable incidents one after another. Not allowing the days off for a higher rank officer is against the nature of employees and workplaces. The overload of duties can be reduced by handing over some sections of duties to an assistant on his days off or permanently assigning some sections to other same post officers. At that time, the overload of duties on a daily route became physical and mental exhaustion and tiredness. Moreover, the duty for long hours was one of the uncomfortable facts. It is an example for workplaces. Some workplaces may face worse events but some may encounter fewer events.
Emphasize the health of employees
Whatever it may be, we all need to take correctly lessons from the past events. All officials and staff should take part in the plan of emphasizing the health of employees. Not only the government but the private sector should create relaxation centres at all workplaces for staff to be able to contribute to the health of employees. Although employees discharge their duties in the enclosed room facilitated with air-conditioners as a nature of unit using computers, it is necessary to create a site for employees to take fresh air under a time limit. If so, it will contribute to the long-term healthcare services for the employees.
Not only providing healthcare services but also educative talks on health knowledge should be performed by officials from the health organizations to the employees in order to raise their health awareness. Moreover, books and publications related to health knowledge should be provided so the employees have continuous access to internal and international health information.
All employees on their part need to take health exercises to have health and fitness in the workplace and to create an environment for healthy workplaces. Only when they do anything on a self-reliant basis will they benefit. In the workplace, they all need to know the health conditions of their workmates. They all should give a helping hand to each other for solving their health problems with good consultations with a sibling manner. As a result, healthy employees will have the capacity to serve the assignments successfully in healthy workplaces.