Many workers may be working under the dangerous illusion that their workplace safety initiatives adequately protect them from harm. Workplace safety initiatives are not created equal. Because of the wide range of programs available, it is important for workers to understand the strengths and weaknesses of those implemented by their employers.
Assessing Workplace Safety Initiatives
A new tool published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine is designed to evaluate and assess workplace safety programs. The Workplace Integrated Safety and Health (WISH) tool is designed to measure the effectiveness of policies, programs, and workplace practices that are intended to promote worker health and safety.
WISH is based on six factors that are crucial for a safe workplace. These include the commitment of the employer and managers to maintain a safe workplace as well as worker participation in safety training and wellness programs. WISH also measures whether policies, programs, and practices facilitate support in the workplace and whether the worker safety programs adhere to federal and state regulations. Finally, WISH evaluates whether the program adheres to ethical norms and whether the program incorporates data gathered during evaluations to improve safety in the workplace and the effectiveness of the program.
The Importance of Workplace Safety
In 2017, there were nearly 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries in the United States. That is a rate of nearly 2.8 per 100 full-time workers. Overall, there were 882,730 injuries and illnesses that required days away from work.
Data from 2017 shows that there were 45,800 fewer nonfatal injuries than the number recorded in 2016. Reasons for the decreasing rate of injuries are increased focus on workplace safety and stricter enforcement of workplace safety standards by OSHA and other regulatory bodies.
Common causes for injuries in the workplace included overexertion, falls from heights, contact with equipment, and exposure to hazardous substances. Each of these and the other causes of workplace injuries should be addressed within the employer’s workplace safety program.
While the number of workers injured in the United States is declining, the data shows that a significant number of workers are still at risk of serious injury or death. The data shows that while improvements are happening, more needs to be done to protect the health and safety of workers in every industry from construction and mining, to fishing and farming.