Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a part of the United States Department of Labor, assures safety and healthy working conditions for working men and women with proper training, education, and assistance.
Why is there a concern for the safety of workers?
Why does OSHA want workers to speak up about their hazardous workplace conditions?
According to the results from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,679 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States in 2014. A jump of 2% (4,585 fatal work injuries), compared to the year 2013.
Though fatal work injuries among men were slightly higher in 2014, compared to 2013, fatal injuries among women rose 13 percent in 2014, compared to the previous year.
According to J Paul Leigh of University of California, in 2013, workplace injuries led to a loss of $192 billion. With illness on the job costing $58 billion a year, the total cost was $250 billion annually.
To improve the safety of workers across the country, OSHA has issued a rule that requires certain employers to submit electronically injury and illness data of employees they already record on their onsite OSHA Injury and Illness forms.
This rule, which takes effect Jan. 1 2017, will force employers to focus on employee's safety because the information becomes public.
Instead of discouraging employees from reporting an injury or illness, employers must inform employees of their rights to report work-related injuries and illness.
"No one should have to sacrifice their life for their livelihood, because a nation built on the dignity of work must provide safe working conditions for its people." - Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
Definition of recordable injury or illness by OSHA:
- Any work-related fatality,
- Any work-related injury or illness that results in loss of consciousness, days away from work, restricted work, or transfer to another job,
- Any work-related injury or illness requiring medical treatment beyond first aid,
- Any work-related diagnosed case of cancer, chronic irreversible diseases, fractured or cracked bones or teeth, and punctured eardrums,
- There are also special recording criteria for work-related cases involving: needlesticks and sharps injuries; medical removal; hearing loss; and tuberculosis.
Though the government has taken positive step towards worker's safety, workers should follow these ways to avoid workplace injuries:
Don't overexert: Overexertion, a no-impact injury results from physical efforts, such as lifting, pulling, holding, carrying pushing, or throwing. More than half of the injuries (52%) are to your back.
If you are in pain, take assistance from your team members. Bend your knees while lifting any heavy items.
Prevent slip and fall injuries: Ask your employers to have well-designed ladders, proper lighting, anti-slip coatings on floors, even flooring, smooth elevator stops, and visible warning signs.
Make sure your work area is clean and free from any source of injuries. Be aware of slip and fall injury claims.
With legal awareness, you signal employers: if you don't care for our safety, we know our rights to have proper compensation.
Be in uniform: If your workplace requires a proper dress code, wear the required uniform and other protective gear to minimize injuries. The advice may sound too simple, but it can turn out to be lifesaving during any mishappening.
Be alert: If you find any faults in the workplace, contact the management team. Don't wait for others to convey the information. Take the lead and be the reason for saving other members in the office. If you care about your colleagues, expect the same from others.
Take your emergency drills seriously: If your employers take the pain to conduct an emergency drill for your safety, follow the guidelines carefully. Don't take it lightly.
Employers must conduct wellness programs to reduce the frequency of injuries. It not only controls worker's compensation but also improves the workplace environment.
With health comes wealth. Your company can't breathe in the competitive marketplace with injured employees.