Safety in the workplace is not only an organizational issue but also an individual issue. Workplace safety describes “policies and procedures in place to ensure the safety and health of employees within a workplace” (BusinessDictionary. com, 2013). In the United States nearly six thousand work-related deaths and 4. 1 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses occurred in 2006 (Christian, Wallace, Bradley, & Burke, 2009 p. 1103).
Although this is a huge number there have been great strides in improving safety in the workplace. “Data from multiple sources reflect the large decreases in work-related deaths from the high rates and numbers of deaths among workers during the early 20th century” (CDC, 1999). In the article “Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Improvements in workplace safety-United States, 1900-1999” a few items were discussed that are directly associated with the decrease in work-related deaths and injuries.
These items are: the identification and correction of etiologic factors that contributed to occupational health risks, the efforts made by labor and management to improve workplace safety, efforts made by researchers to examine work-related deaths and injuries, efforts made by state labor and health authorities to improve safety in the workplace, the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the changing US industrial mix, extensive changes in the US economic activity and workplace demographics, and societal progress in injury control.
The creations of both OSHA and the NIOSH, I believe, have been a driving factor in the decrease of work-related deaths and injuries. “OSHA’s regulatory authority for worksite inspection and development of safety standards has brought about safety regulations, mandatory workplace safety controls, and worker training” (CDC, 1999). When working as a manager for a major fast food chain I have participated in OSHA inspections.
These inspections were tough and if safety violations were found fines were levied on the business. “OSHA cited Prestige Industries LLC’s North Bergen location with four ‘repeat’ violations that carry a $185,000 penalty and five ‘serious’ violations carrying a $33,500 penalty” (Diduch, 2013) “The NIOSH has investigated hazardous work conditions, conducted research to prevent injury, trained health professionals , developed educational materials and recommendations for worker protection” (CDC, 1999).
Many businesses have ongoing safety programs and Hazmat programs educating all employees on the importance of safety. From material safety data sheets to safety videos and quizzes businesses are putting safety in the forefront of the organization.