At the start of the American Industrial Revolution, worker safety and health were nowhere near the priority they are today. As manufacturing grew, so too did worker injuries and deaths. The idea of safe work grew slowly from a small glimmer to a bright flame inside the collective consciousness of the American workforce.
What's the good news for safety in 2007? Just look around.
TIMES were hard in 1932. In the midst of the Great Depression, deprivation and desperation were the order of the day for the millions of Americans struggling to get by. Bank crashes, business failures, homelessness, and unemployment were at all-time highs; bread lines were lengthening in every major city in the country, and malnutrition was rampant.
"YOUNG lady, I think you are in the wrong place," growled a bearded, rustic-looking Dr. James Counts, his brows knitted as he stalked into the classroom of Central Missouri State University's safety program. His second comment was that I would need a very large bottle of Wild Turkey and a long-handled wooden spoon for daily doses to make it through the course.
Devastating catastrophes and the work of key individuals have contributed to the evolution of modern occupational health and safety.
AS the number of regulations increases worldwide, companies are being held increasingly responsible for the safety of products they manufacture and/or use in the workplace. Not everyone is aware, however, that EH&S compliance is required at multiple steps throughout the lifecycle of a hazardous material or chemical, including during research and development, testing, manufacturing, transportation, usage and disposal.
The glass is decidedly half full when some of the U.S. safety profession's leaders contemplate the Occupational Safety & Health Administration as it enters early middle age. At age 35, the premier federal agency for ensuring workers' safety is obsolete, hamstrung, more competently staffed, and more helpful to its regulated industries, all at once, these experts said in interviews. The bottom line: OSHA accomplishes too little but succeeds at what it does.
NO one wants an unsafe work environment. Unsafe or hazardous spots in your environment must first be reported before they can be corrected, however. That takes cooperation from all employees, including those reluctant to blow the whistle.
IMAGINE you're at an air show. It's a crisp spring day, and you're waiting in anticipation for the next fly-by of aircraft. Next on the list is the famous Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team.
DO you want to generate the power to change your company's future? Practice energizing safety within your company.
AS a safety professional with nearly 28 years of experience in the occupational safety and health field, I've had many opportunities to perform evaluations of accident prevention programs. In my research and conversations with safety professionals, many safety professionals are aware of this problem and seek assistance in finding solutions.
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