For centuries, workers in nearly every occupation were at constant risk of injury and death and there wasn’t much they could do about it because they would lose their jobs. Workers were always easier to come by than jobs, so it wasn’t in the worker’s best interest to point out safety problems to their managers and owners. During the industrial revolution, things got especially bad, there were more hazards in the workplace than ever before, toxins that had never been tested, and new, more dangerous machines every day. Finally, in 1970, president Nixon signed into law the Occupational Health and Safety Act that would help protect workers and customers in both the private and public domain.
2 Million Workers Injured On The Job
Before OSHA was passed more than 2 million workers were injured in on the job accidents each year and more than 14,000 died as well. There were more hazardous chemicals and more dangerous machines being introduced by the day. Since that time, on the job accidents have been reduced dramatically, and workers now have access to safety equipment, machines are made safer, the workplace is safer, and there is legal recourse for workers that are injured or killed.
Now, There Are Regulations For Nearly Every Industry
Each type of industry now has the responsibility to implement programs designed to minimize worker exposure to health and safety hazards. OSHA has now implemented a management guideline system so that every employer can know what their responsibilities are and take action to protect worker safety. By dividing up the entire work industry they have helped the employers in each niche better understand the hazards their workers face and also know how other companies in the same niche have dealt with the dangers. The streamlining of categorizing the types of businesses has made the adaptation of regulations and solutions to problems easier for all involved.
OSHA now has developed the five elements of a safety plan to assist employers in creating their own, more personalized, safety management system that is tailored to their exact type of business.
It will start with a management leadership and awareness program that includes educating the managers of a given business to the dangers of the different products and machines in their sector. This would then be included with employee participation on every level since many times the employees are more aware of specific problems than their bosses.
Each type of hazard in a business then needs to be identified on an individual basis and assessed a certain level of danger depending on worst case scenarios. Even some very common household products, when placed in the wrong environment, can turn into deadly gases, toxic acids, or cause cancer when mixed wrong, misused, or involved in an accident.
After that, prevention is stressed in order to always know what the hazards are and never allow them to happen. An example would be, never allowing chlorine bleach to be stored or transported near ammonia cleaning supplies. The two chemicals easily mix to form toxic fumes that can kill or injure people. But, by being aware of the danger, the two chemicals can always be stored far apart and never transported together. Plus, if an accident does happen, the nearby workers would know the proper evacuation procedures and who to call for the toxic cleanup as well.
Nearly All Of The Various Programs Involve Training
Nothing works as well as the proper training when it comes to prevention of accidents in the workplace. It has been shown in numerous studies that the return on investment that is gained by training and certifying both the management and employees is a great investment. Not only do the employers and workers gain, but many insurance companies now insist on training in order to cut down the cost of claims. It’s a good investment for them as well.
After all of the various levels of training and sharing of information is done, careful evaluation is needed on an ongoing basis to ensure that the effectiveness is maintained. There are still new machines being introduced and new chemicals being invented so the training and evaluation must continue forever to keep the workplace safe for everyone involved.