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LECTURE: Discrimination In The Workplace: A Psycho-social Hazard By Nurse Cletus Onyekosor
Date Posted: 20/Dec/2017
A workplace i s a location where someone works for his or her employer, a place of employment. Such a place can range from a home office to a large office building or factory. With this i say good evening professional colleagues my names are comrade Cletus Onyekosor.
Every workplace or environment consists of five components and these components have hazards associated with them. They are the physical, biological, chemical, mechanical/ergonomic and psychosocial components. 
Suffice me to state that overtime the psychosocial component which forms the basis for other components has been neglected just like Nursing profession in the health team. A healthy Nursing Profession is a healthy Health team(Cletus 2017). A worker that is unstable psychosocially cannot work effectively or adhere strictly with other components. Hence the need for this topic tonight. We will be looking at a topic of workplace importance—*Discrimination in the workplace a psychosocial hazard*. Before we go into discrimination proper, we will look at some basic psychosocial concepts, what hazards are, and the discrimination proper. While this presentation is going on please imagine your workplace and how Discrimination has eaten deep into the minds of workers and employers.
Psychosocial concepts
People may not be fully aware of the relationship between their mental and emotional wellbeing and the environment.
The psychosocial approach looks at individuals in the context of the combined influence that psychological  factors and the surrounding social environment have on their physical and mental wellness and their ability to function. This approach is used in a broad range of helping professions in health and social care settings as well as by medical and social science researchers.
Adolph Meyer in the late 1800s said something and i quote”We cannot understand the individual presentation of mental illness, [and prepatuating factors] without knowing how that person functions in the environment” psychosocial assessment stems from this idea.
For occupational health team to provide a holistic view of meaningful activity, we must understand the relationship between physical, psychological, and social variables, especially as they affect our psychosocial evaluations and treatment.
Problems that occur in one’s psychosocial functioning can be referred to as “psychosocial dysfunction” or “psychosocial morbidity.” This refers to the lack of development or diverse atrophy of the psychosocial self, often occurring alongside other dysfunctions that may be physical, emotional, or cognitive in nature. Hollis 1964.
Psychosocial assessment considers several key areas related to psychological and social functioning and the availability of supports. It is a systematic inquiry that arises from the introduction of dynamic interaction; it is an ongoing process that continues throughout a treatment, and is characterized by the circularity of cause-effect/effect-cause.
Steps in internal assessment:
There are five internal steps in assessment:
. Data collection (relevant and current) of the problem presented.
. Integrating collected facts with relevant theories.
. Formulating a hypothesis (case theory) that gives the presented problem more clarity.
. Hypothesis substantiation through exploration of the problem: life history of the client, etiology, personality, environment, stigmas, etc. Further integration of newer facts identified in the treatment period and preparing a psychosocial report for psychosocial intervention.
The clinician’s comprehension and set of judgments about the client’s situation, the assessment through a theory of each case, predicts the intervention. Hence a good psychosocial assessment leads to a good psychosocial intervention that aims to reduce complaints and improve functioning related to mental disorders and/or social problems (e.g., problems with personal relationships, work, or school) by addressing the different psychological and social factors influencing the individual.
. Psychosocial adaptation is a process, a person experiences in order to achieve good fitness in person-environment congruence known as adjustment, a state of wisdom oriented activities and psychosocial equilibrium.
Elizabeth Da Silva said that Psychosocial support is the provision of psychological and social resources to a person by a supporter intended for the benefit of the receiver’s ability to cope with problems faced. The allocentric principle within social relationships that promote health and well-being moves individual’s to aid victims of terminal illness, disaster, war, catastrophe or violence to foster resilience of communities and individuals. It aims at easing resumption of normal life, facilitating affected people’s participation to their convalescence and preventing pathological consequences of potentially traumatic situations. This might extend in forms of informational and instrumental support.
Overview of Hazards
Wikipedia defines hazard as any agent that can cause harm or damage to humans, property, or the environment. There are many definitions for hazard but the most common definition when talking about workplace health and safety is: A hazard is any source of potential damage, harm or adverse health effects on something or someone.
The meaning of the word hazard can be confusing. Often dictionaries do not give specific definitions or combine it with the term “risk”. For example, one dictionary defines hazard as “a danger or risk” which helps explain why many people use the terms interchangeably.
There are many definitions for hazard but the most common definition when talking about workplace health and safety is:
A hazard is any source of potential damage, harm or adverse health effects on something or someone. The CSA Z1002 Standard “Occupational health and safety – Hazard identification and elimination and risk assessment and control” uses the following terms:
Harm – physical injury or damage to health.
Hazard – a potential source of harm to a worker.
Basically, a hazard is the potential for harm or an adverse effect (for example, to people as health effects, to organizations as property or equipment losses, or to the environment).
Sometimes the resulting harm is referred to as the hazard instead of the actual source of the hazard. For example, the disease tuberculosis (TB) might be called a “hazard” by some but, in general, the TB-causing bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) would be considered the “hazard” or “hazardous biological agent”.
What is an adverse health effect?
A general definition of adverse health effect is “any change in body function or the structures of cells that can lead to disease or health problems”.
Adverse health effects include:
. bodily injury, disease, change in the way the body functions, grows, or develops, effects on a developing fetus (teratogenic effects, fetotoxic effects), effects on children, grandchildren, etc. (inheritable genetic effects) decrease in life span, change in mental condition resulting from stress, traumatic experiences, exposure to solvents, and so on, and effects on the ability to accommodate additional stress. Workplace hazards can come from a wide range of sources. General examples include any substance, material, process, practice, etc. that has the ability to cause harm or adverse health effect to a person or property.
Will exposure to hazards in the workplace “always” cause injury, illness or other adverse health effects?
Not necessarily. To answer this question, you need to know: what hazards are present, how a person is exposed (route of exposure, as well as how often and how much exposure occurred), what kind of effect could result from the specific exposure a person experienced, the risk (or likelihood) that exposure to a hazardous thing or condition would cause an injury, or disease or some incidence causing damage, and how severe would the damage, injury or harm (adverse health effect) be from the exposure.
The effects can be acute, meaning that the injury or harm can occur or be felt as soon as a person comes in contact with the hazardous agent (e.g., a splash of acid in a person’s eyes). Some responses may be chronic (delayed). For example, exposure to poison ivy may cause red swelling on the skin two to six hours after contact with the plant. On the other hand, longer delays are possible: mesothelioma, a kind of cancer in the lining of the lung cavity, can develop 20 years or more after exposure to asbestos.
Once the hazard is removed or eliminated, the effects may be reversible or irreversible (permanent). For example, a hazard may cause an injury that can heal completely (reversible) or result in an untreatable disease (irreversible).
Categories of hazards
A common way to classify hazards is by category:
. biological – bacteria, viruses, insects, plants, birds, animals, and humans, etc.,
. chemical – depends on the physical, chemical and toxic properties of the chemical,
. ergonomic – repetitive movements, improper set up of workstation, etc.,
. physical – radiation, magnetic fields, pressure extremes (high pressure or vacuum), noise, etc., psychosocial – stress, violence, etc,safety/mechanical- slipping/tripping hazards, inappropriate machine guarding, equipment malfunctions or breakdowns.
Occupational hazard simply put is a danger that is connected with doing a particular job: Hearing loss from excessive noise is an occupational hazard  for nightclub workers.
What is psychosocial hazard
According to workplace violence and intervention 2017, A psychosocial hazard is any hazard that affects the mental well-being or mental health of the worker by overwhelming individual coping mechanisms and impacting the worker’s ability to work in a healthy and safe manner.
According to an online dictionary, Discrimination is the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex. Also Discrimination is a situation where some people are treated differently from others. It happens when an employer or a Superior officer treats an employee less favourably than others. Although there may be reasons for such different treatment and they are
*Higher qualification (Bnsc-RN dichotomy)
By law, there are certain reasons for which an employer or co-employee cannot discriminate against an employee(s) and they are
. physical disability
. Gender
. Blood Group(sickle cell)
. Age
. Marital Status
. Tribe(like miss bee and Yobe state HMB)
. Religion
. Colour
. Nationality
. Belief
Note that any discrimination based on any of these is called unlawful discrimination.
Types of discrimination
There are three types of discrimination
.Harassment and Victimisation
Direct discrimination: This happens when employer treats an employee less favourably because of their gender, tribe, race, ethnicity we see this in our work places.
Indirect Discrimination is a condition that puts a group of workers at a disadvantage more than the other group in a particular job. Example is rotating shift leaving staff in a position for a long tine withholding promotion. (Some of us are shaking our heads at this point)
Harassment and Victimisation
- Harassment is an offensive intimidating behaviour against another person. Maybe in form of sexual abuse or use of vulgar languages aimed at humiliating, undermining or injuring the other person.
- Victimisation is treating someone less favourably than others because he/she tried to make discrimination complains like what happened to Delsu Final year Nursing students at Delsuth(hotel issue with medical students. Kudos to great Nurses for standing against discrimination). We all experience this especially when you hate intimidation. Keep it up.
Workers suffer from different disorders and dysfunctions because of Discrimination. This brings us to the Effects of discrimination to health.
Effects of discrimination
. its associated with experiencing physical, emotional and functional limitations
. it increases risk of mental disorders like depression
. Results in the use of drugs and alcohol as coping strategies which impair physical and psychosocial functions.
. increases incidence of hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.
. Contributes to chronic health problems and disabilities like peptic Ulcer disease
. It could lead to psychological distress and reduces level of happiness in life and satisfaction (Rochas may be right here😜😜😜)
. It reduces self esteem and increase feeling of helplessness and loss.
. It increases suicidal tendencies
. Absenteeism and Sick-offs
. Reduces productivity
Solutions to problems of Discrimination
- Create awareness on problems of discrimination through health education, seminars, workshops and how it affects our health and productivity.
- There should be Policy against Discrimination in every workplace.
- Counsel workers going through discrimination to reduce its effects.
- Discuss with management problems associated with Discrimination
- Policy should be enforced
- A lawyer could be consulted and legal actions taken if other measures fail.
- Manage problems presented by colleagues, clients appropriately.
In conclusion, Non-Discrimination
The constitution of Nigeria prohibits discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties. It is the duty of the state to promote national integration by providing adequate facilities, equal opportunities and rights to all the citizens without discrimination. Citizens of Nigeria must not be subject to any disability or deprivation on discriminatory grounds.
There is no specific legal provision regarding discriminatory behavior while hiring an employee.
Fair Treatment
Equal Pay
According to the constitution, it is the duty of the state to ensure there is equal pay for equal work without discrimination on account of sex, or on any other ground. However, no implementing legislation has been enacted so far. A Labour Standards Bill, submitted in the National Assembly in 2008, had provision on equal pay for equal work however it has not been passed.
Source: 17(3) Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999
HIV and AIDS (Anti-Discrimination) Act, 2014 prohibits discrimination on the basis of real or perceived HIV status concerning access to and continued employment, conditions of employment, employment benefits, comprehensive health services, education, use of public facilities and other social services, provided by the employer, individual, community, government or any other establishment.
Regulations on Fair Treatment:
Labour Act (Cap L1 LFN 2004)
Employees Compensation Act, 2010
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999b
HIV and AIDS (Anti-Discrimination) Act, 2014
Lets join hands to fight discrimination in the workplace. Thank You.
Nurse Cletus Onyekosor
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