Although smoking has declined significantly, it continues to be a popular habit in many industries, particularly mining, accommodation and food services, wholesale trade, and construction. Approximately 30% of workers in these industries smoke, making the decision concerning the allowance of workplace smoking both a pressing one and a difficult one. To make matters worse, workplace training can be confusing and expensive.
Smoking poses a number of health risks to workers. Along with increasing the risk of lung cancer, it can lead to yellowing skin and teeth and reduced lung function. Tobacco use results in coughing, wheezing, and an increase in the severity of asthma attacks. Workers who smoke are also likely to develop COPD and other respiratory diseases, and they have an increased risk of heart problems. Smoking is also responsible for nearly one in five deaths in the United States. With these symptoms in mind, you should think about your workplace training and policy concerning smoking for the sake of your employees’ health.
Even employees who do not smoke can suffer from the health risks of smoking. The smoke that these employees breathe contains over 7,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic or carcinogenic. As a result, your non-smoking employees’ risk of lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and severe asthma attacks increases. In addition, if any of your employees are pregnant, breathing in secondhand smoke can lead to low infant birth rate, sudden infant death syndrome, or stillborn babies when they give birth. These facts can further complicate the training process and the difficult balance between maintaining employee satisfaction and the health and well-being of your employees.
Not only does smoking have health risks, but it is also detrimental to workplace productivity. Smokers take an average of four ten-minute long smoke breaks daily, which amounts to approximately one week lost to smoking annually. They also tend to take more sick days than non-smokers due to the adverse health effects. Additionally, smoking can lead to smoke damage in buildings and a hard-to-remove odor, which requires a special professional restoration process to solve. You will need a thorough cleaning and a sealant to seal off remaining particles in any cracks in the walls, a specialist to take care of items such as furniture and upholstery, and either hydroxyl generators or ozone generators to get rid of the last of the smell. The process can be costly and inconvenient, so you should take this into account when thinking about your smoking policies and training.
E-cigarettes are also becoming increasingly popular. Although by some definitions they are not regarded as cigarettes since they do not involve the combustion of tobacco, they are still something to consider when thinking about safety training in the workplace. Since they are relatively new, the effects on users and the people around them are still unknown. While some ingredients are found in everyday household products, others are carcinogenic. The benefits of e-cigarettes in the workplace include a decrease in the amount of smoke breaks and a possible increase in employee satisfaction and productivity. However, they are hard to distinguish from regular cigarettes and may upset employees who want to see a non-smoking policy enforced. There is a range of possibilities concerning whether and how e-cigarettes may be used in the workplace to best ensure the health and satisfaction of all employees. While completely banning them or allowing them anywhere in the workplace are certainly possible, you should also consider allowing them only in smoking areas or in additional designated areas. Deciding how to deal with e-cigarette use is a complex but increasingly pressing issue that every employer must consider.
Policies on smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes in the workplace can be complicated and confusing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you need a cost-effective overall safety program for yourself and your employees, 360training.com can help. For only $9.99 per month, you can gain access to over 200 workplace training courses and take whatever information you need out of them. Sign up today to get your safety subscription 7 days free and gain access to training information about workplace smoking and other compliance topics.