The term occupational health and safety is one that covers a wide range of differing criteria. At its heart lies the desire to improve the health and safety of the working environment, in all its many guises. As a secondary benefit of these complex activities, those around the worker and the workplace may also benefit in terms of health, safety and general lifestyle.
In basic terms, occupational health and safety aims to identify and reduce (or totally eradicate) risks associated with the workplaces. There are of course many jobs which have inherent safety issues tied in with them, and so the role of those who identify occupational health and safety risks is to reconcile these two ideas, so that work can still be done, money can still be made - but the short and long term health of the worker is protected at all times.
The benefits of occupational health and safety are generally acknowledged by various groups and organizations. The primary one and the one that has most interest in worker's well-being is of course the government. While the well being of the worker is the main focus, there are other issues such as those of economy; if a worker gets badly injured, then the state will have to pick up the bill - which can in drastic cases result in years of state benefits and medical costs.
From the company's point of view, keeping their workforce healthy is very important. If a highly skilled worker for example damages their back, then that person may be off work for a long period of time. By observing a high level of health and safety, a company can reduce this risk by a large degree.
Much of occupational health and safety is of course to do with education. By ensuring everyone understands how the objects and machines around them might pose some threat to their physical or indeed mental well being.
There are a great many organizations that carry out occupational health and safety training for employees of firms, so that they know as much as possible about current government legislation and how it might affect the particular operations of that given company.