Workplace risk, workplace safety

Safety First

The Occupational Safety and Health Act, passed in 1970, stated that employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace. The OSHA organization grew up around the Act to set and enforce standards and provide training, outreach, education, and assistance to employers and workers. An important emphasis for OSHA is their ability to offer free confidential advice to both employers and employees.

Resources for workers

OSHA offers workers easy-to-use resources to file a complaint, or to request an OSHA inspection of their workplace if they see serious hazards or infractions of OSHA standards. There are videos to inform workers of their rights and to walk workers through the complaint filing process.

Current safety and health topics are featured to keep the public up-to-date and informed on new developments, such as the Zika virus. Use their Frequently Asked Question page to locate detailed advice or information on a range of common questions and topics.

Resources for businesses

Employers will find detailed information on their safety and health responsibilities, recordkeeping, safety promotion materials, and other resources in Spanish and English, as well as current regulations. An A to Z catalog of videos covers a very broad range of safety and workplace health topics, including construction site safety, fall protection, respiratory equipment use, dealing with silica, excavations, and more.

OSHA also offers free on-site consultations for small businesses – separately from enforcement activities – so no penalties or citations may be imposed as a result. When workplaces are cited for violating OSHA regulations, many enter into the same set of categories. In OSHA lingo, the 2015 top 10 most frequently cited violations were:

  1. Fall Protection (C)
  2. Hazard Communication
  3. Scaffolding (C)
  4. Respiratory Protection
  5. Lockout / Tagout
  6. Powered Industrial Trucks
  7. Ladders (C)
  8. Electrical, Wiring Methods
  9. Machine Guarding
  10. Electrical, General Requirements
    (C) = Construction standard

New training tool for students and workers

For employers or instructors seeking to engage workers or students around workplace safety, OSHA offers an interactive, online, game-based training tool. The tool highlights the basics of hazard identification, and encourages thinking around resources and costs to mitigate common hazards. Currently, the user can choose between four different scenarios: OSHA Visual Inspection Training, Manufacturing, Construction and Emergency Room.

Facts about workplace risk

The seriousness of OSHA’s efforts is brought home through the related workplace Illnesses, Injuries and Fatalities program. While some occupations seem inherently risky, for example those involving heavy equipment, unpredictable circumstances, or chemical exposure, other professions present risks you might not be aware of.

The number of work-related fatalities for 2014, the most recent complete year of data available, totals 4,821. The more populous states garner the highest numbers, with California numbering 344, the highest number of any state. The fewest fatalities related to work occurred that year in Vermont and Rhode Island, at 10 each.

What’s encouraging to see in these discouraging numbers, is the significant reduction in workplace fatalities that have taken place during the last decade. Total numbers are down by more than 1000 since the peak year, 2006.

  • 92% of workplace fatalities were suffered by men, 8% by women
  • Agriculture and construction industries appeared to experience the greatest risk of fatality of any occupation, although heavy and tractor trailer truck drivers also experienced a high level of risk
  • In terms of age, the highest proportion of deaths occurred in the 45-54 age range, closely followed by the 55-64 age group
  • White or Caucasian workers experienced the highest number of deaths on the job, with close to 70% of all workplace fatalities; approximately 17% were Hispanic or Latino, and close to 10% were Black or African American.

Find more resources for your small business at CareerOneStop’s Business Center. Or consider looking for a safer career that might fit the skills you already have, using CareerOneStop’s mySkillsmyFuture.

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