Dr. Dharmesh Pushpa Dhawankar*
This paper primarily verifies the effectiveness of the new media and its presence for the reduction of safety and health issues which directly relate to occupational injuries and fatalities in the unorganised labour. This research explores whether new tools like social media can contribute to the success of putting things of safety in place by its huge influence and presence virtually. This study shall employ immense data available on various websites using the content analysis as a basic tool. A replicable data which can be compared with fatalities and health safety issues shall be constructed and shall be explored for the efficacy as a new media tool. This paper aims at suggesting means and ways to arrest occupational injuries using new media tool as a medium of communication and generate a pool of experts, who in turn shall provide latest means and measures which can be adopted for near safety for the workers of unorganised labour.
Health and safety have been concerns for employees, employers, and government for at least a century now. There are approximately 10000 deaths in the workplace. In an effort to reduce the number of occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities, the new media must intervene to regulate industry. The occupational safety and health administration must be well addressed; the new media tools should be utilised for protecting employees in the workplace from safety hazards that could lead to injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. The media has the capacity to pressurise the government through setting standards and enforcing those standards with workplace inspections. Having said this, the media can very well undertake this as the media are agenda-setters for themselves. The media agenda setting theory postulates various issues to be undertaken suomotu. Another theoretical base this study emulates is the social responsibility theory on which many factors are functional. The media in general and the public broadcasting system in particular has the natural responsibility to address the basic causes of problems faced by each and every section of the society. A further objective of this research is to determine if the media has had a leadership role in reducing and/or preventing occupational injuries and fatalities and the extent to which changes in the workforce have influenced the effectiveness of the media and occupational injuries and fatalities. If the media has an effect, what are the factors within the media that can be attributed to this effect? Has this change affected occupational safety? In addition, other changes in the workforce also include a shift to service type industries and away from heavy industries and overall increase of employees in the workforce. Mass media can spring a major change in how the country viewed and dealt with occupational injuries and fatalities. Workers compensation replaces income and pays for medical expenses in the event of an occupational injury or illness (Hammer & Price, 2001). However, workers compensation laws did not provide a means of being proactive to prevent accidents that led to worker injuries or require employers to take preventive measures. When the employees’ ability to earn is disrupted by an event such as workplace injury or death, the financial stability of the family is seriously threatened. Once self-sufficient individuals and families lose their ability to earn and to provide support, they become dependent on government services and public assistance for healthcare, housing, and food. Direct costs such as replacement of lost wages and medical bills are insured and are well documented. However, indirect and opportunity costs such as lost hours of production, years of work, ability to earn, and the hardship placed on the injured employee and their family are great and are not measured. Preventing workplace injuries has the potential to save the injured from countless days of pain and suffering. Occupational safety and health is often judged by the number of injuries and fatalities sustained by employees. It is important to know if the resources that are utilised by media reports are being used in the best manner to prevent injuries and fatalities in the workplace. Another measure of occupational safety is the cost associated with injuries and fatalities. The costs in insurance premiums, lost wages, and lost productivity create a substantial financial impact on businesses. In addition, the external costs of occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities must also be considered. These events become a public health issue that reach beyond the injured employee to affect the entire society.
Social media response
There comes the question of whether social media is sensitive towards mine accidents? Simply reporting on the event of the accident and following it two or more days may not justify the cause effect relationship. Media has to play a much larger role to highlight and show deep rooted concern. It has to understand the basic nuances and create a feasible environment so as to arrest future accidents in the mining industry. In the event of any mine accident, the media begins to criticise the high rates of death and injury. It also reports plight of workers and families who suffered an occupational injury or fatality. It also interviews families and co-workers to understand the circumstances of the accident and the aftermath of losing a wage earner. When reviewing accidents, the media can suggest many ways in which to prevent them. The media must introspect and raise questions. If it is merely an inevitable loss in the course of industry, then it is something to grieve over and forget. If it is largely, half or partly unnecessary, a waste of youth and skill and strength, then it is something to fight about and not forget. Or merely report and do away with It.? In doing so, the sensitive aptitude of the media can be generalised. Also make them more vigilant and responsive in their own approach for better safety norms which they work in. Mass media, especially television, can be instrumental in achieving this distinction as it has an audio and video content presentation. Pictures and sound create a useful and desirable impact on the minds of people, especially the mine workers as it gives them a sense of belongingness when you place them in those pictorial forms. Well, if these can even be remotely achieved then, I feel, I can put media in the sensitive bracket. But that does not appear to happen, at least for other forms of media, that is, the print media. TV and radio appear to be a little close for some time, but they do create an atmosphere. They can be instrumental in presenting the compensation mechanism, which shall be in tune with the degree of injury and not on the wishes and whims of the employer. At times it gives a notion that it is very serious and proactive for the cause. But what follows thereafter does not substantiates with the former. Make functional approaches to create content for the target group which will enable them to understand and raise their voice for better work condition.
New media can bring about change
I am very optimist that new media can definitely bring about some change in improving the present scenario. The delivery mechanism, the content and the access and reach are some of the strengths of this medium. The message portability has reached a complete circle. Almost every soul has the mobile phone in his pocket. Thus, messages of that type which serve your purpose can be very useful and progressive for them. The content is very significant which can be dished out for the mine workers at different locations. These can be in the form of edutainment, informative and colloquial in nature. The new media products have changed the consumption pattern as far as the entertainment is concerned. Therefore, the specialists, who are in search of an opportunity to reach out for these personnel, can very easily transport their valuable messages. These messages can be of safety, about their rights, working conditions etc. Language plays a vital role in understanding and feedback tapestry. The new media have mastered in floating the messages in many Indian languages, this is quite useful to reach out to the masses in their own language. Will that not impact their vocational behavior? Certainly yes, that needs to be tested, verified and implemented for a better cause. New media is such an ocean where you have experts who are ready to offer specialist knowledge and information. The beauty of this medium is that you do not need physical proximity for their expertise to influence your way of thinking. This can be very easily, instantly and spontaneously acquired virtually over the click of a button. As explained earlier, the tools and the means have reached the individual or workers’ pockets. The point I make here is that experts, specialist in this field be it mitigation or forecasting in mine affairs, these are handy and easy to pick from. The depth and accuracy of this media is exhaustive and most of the time subjective. This makes the task simple. Also it has multiplying effect, as its messages can be quickly forwarded to multiple users and related respondents by its users in that particular loop. All these characteristics of new media make the cause of labour safety more counterproductive and pitch for more clarity and objective on the issues at hand. The permissible expertise is great factors for this tool to be adaptive and accommodative, as it gives a local and global effect to the phenomenon of convergence on the same issues.
The heterogeneity and complexity of the data speaks volumes of the nature and characteristics of labour safety and health issues that are doing rounds worldwide. The primary analysis shows that the issues and cases of health and safety in unorganized labour are in plenty. The data available on the internet and on the various websites in relation to labour safety and health issues of workers is tremendously intriguing. Exciting, not from the point of view of entertainment, but from the learning and enlightening angle. The typical characteristics portray a specific picture about the cases and events. The outcome of an accident arising out of the ignorance of the employer and employee are discussed. These provide a learning curve to a peculiar circumstance which can be co-related for future events, both to prevent and provide extra cover to defeat the occurrence in the future. Health and safety are crucial parameters from the employer’s point of view. Are they addressed properly? Whether they are ignored for economic parameters? If yes, why and how they can be tackled? These sensitive debates and discussion are playing fast on the new media tools. To be very realistic, the new media has opened a Pandora’s Box as far as safety and health issues are concerned. They not only debate, but also promote and lobby with the governments of the state and other bodies who matter. In the US there is a lot of pro activism and its impact has been seen in laws and special bodies enacted to monitor and supervise the crucial issues related to mine safety and health issues in particular. Much of it is awaited in the developing nations where similar laws are concerned. The cause effect relationship in this arena has not yet picked up. The governments of these nations are not interested in addressing these issues as the labour is largely un-organized. Priority, preference and pro-activism are missing from the agenda of planning and policies. Even media has largely failed to report these matters both in print and electronic forms. Media has done wonders in other fields, where it has paid attention. There is an urgent need to look into these affairs, as human lives are at stake and these issues deserve as much attention as others. Being an optimist, I am hopeful that the new media with its power, might, reach, content and speed will bring about change to address the health and safety issues in unorganized mines. Social media efficacy can be guaranteed if the virtual players put in their might to rescue this issue out of the pending dish. I understand there are issues related to literacy and economic conditions. But still, today in most parts of South Asia, these issues are still at bay. The social media for that matter has failed to raise it systematically. It has never given importance and attention to it as much as it has given to commercial content.
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