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The Importance of Occupational Safety and Health Administration

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Prior to the 1970’s the workplace was unorganized, unsafe, and hazardous. On April, 28th 1971 an implementation of a safety organization would forever change the world that we knew and the standards that come along with the work environment. The organization that was created on this date goes by the name OSHA which stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. By creating OSHA, it would ensure that employees now have a safe work environment that is free from known hazards that could result in injury. Due to a large number of deaths prior to 1970 in the workplace, it put workplaces in the spotlight because of their lack of safety.

Over the years OSHA has grown in popularity due to the constant concern for employee health. Though some companies choose to violate rules that are established by OSHA, most companies choose to do the right thing and stay up to date on rules and regulations because they know they know that OSHA indeed wants the best for them. OSHA has a specific set of rules and regulations that apply to certain fields whether that be roofing, automotive, lineman, etc. any career path you can think of you can ensure that there will be rules and regulations posted that affect you.

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Though the majority of companies understand the benefits and intentions of OSHA, still a majority of people don’t completely grasp what exactly their job description is and most people have their own unique thoughts of what they think OSHA does. You can see this is evident in not only the interviews that were conducted but as well as articles that are OSHA related that can be located online. Answers can range from employees not knowing anything about OSHA, thinking OSHA only applies to the field they work in, believing as if they’re some kind of organization that regulates everything, the possibilities are endless. It’s just like a snowflake that falls from the sky, we’ve all heard that saying that every snowflake is different and that same concept applies to answers regarding the job description of OSHA.

A number of people question is OSHA even necessary? Indeed, they are necessary, without OSHA there would be no safety in the workplace and no drive to create a safe work environment, everything would be based on productivity at work (Osha.gov, 2019). Everyone knows that when you try to increase productivity beyond the bounds that you are capable of that you sacrifice safety because you begin to start worrying more about speed and creating a sense of carelessness whenever it comes to safety. Along with sacrificing a safe work environment, without OSHA the number of workplace fatalities would skyrocket. Statistics show that in 1970 there were approximately 14,000 workplace fatalities due to a lack of concern for safety in the workplace and in 2009 the number of workplace fatalities fell to 4,340 all while the number of employment numbers had doubled (Osha.gov, 2019).

I’m sure that if you’ve had a job that was physically demanding and required you to incorporate safety in your everyday task that you have become agitated at some of the rules that you must follow. It is a common misinterpretation when employees regard safety rules as a nuisance. The reason for this is because safety procedures can seem unnecessary and also seem like it drags the job out longer than needed. It can be hard to see the reason why some of the rules are present in the workplace until an accident occurs that could’ve been avoided by simply following the rules and regulations that were clearly stated. For example, say that you were replacing the roof on a house and you completed the job, but you looked up and forgot your nail gun. You may not see a need to put on fall protection just to quickly go and grab your nail gun, but if you were to slip and fall off the roof during the process you would see clearly why it was needed.

The majority of individuals outlooks on OSHA do not match what is reported in scholarly writing unless you are some sort of manager or supervisor. Thought employees always typically follow the safety rules they don’t think about it constantly as a manager or supervisor would and the same goes for those mentioned in the scholarly writings. Supervisors and managers act as if they are the ones that are writing the scholarly articles that are present. If you think about it, it makes sense. If you are a supervisor or manager you more than likely have a working crew that you are managing and more often than not you are also in charge of ensuring that the work that they are completing is done in a safe manner. Your crew member’s safety can decide whether you have a job the following day. Safety in the workplace is always the most crucial topic and is usually a topic that companies will terminate someone if they were acting outside of the rules and regulations and sometimes that heat can be directed towards supervisors. This is why there can be more extreme views on safety compared to others and also compared to an article that you may have referenced online.

In a perfect world, you would know everything that went on at work but the bottom line is you only hear the stuff that you need to hear and the stuff that you want to hear on occasions if you’re a team leader. This applies to jobs as well, whenever something major happens it is impossible to keep it in the shadows and when this happens it must be brought to light and a report must be written up about the incident. It is common when safety records don’t match exactly what goes on in the workplace. Following up on the repercussions in the paragraph above, this concept mindset of not knowing the outcome of what may happen when an injury occurs haunts a lot of employees. So, the majority of the time when minor incidents occur, employees, try to keep them discreet to reframe from any repercussions occurring. This happens though because of employees having unsafe practices in the workplace or cutting corners to make their job easier. In 2015 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimated that approximately 50% of workplace injuries weren’t being reported (Leviton Diaz & Ginocchio, Inc, 2019).

Another reason people could get hurt in the workplace is that they don’t fully comprehend the safety requirements that are demanded from them. Most people would think that safety is common sense but that is definitely not the case. If you have never had a job in a field that has safety hazards you’re working in new territory with machines and devices that you’ve probably never even seen before. This is why proper training in the workplace is mandatory, it keeps employees safe and makes them alert of the dangers that they need to be looking out for. You not only want to make employees aware of the hazards in the workplace but you want them to be able to identify new hazards and even encourage alternative ways to make the workplace safer while also increasing productivity. Training programs are something that needs to be implemented continuously throughout the work year it should never be a one and done kind of scenario.

It can be concluded that prior to the 1970s that working was indeed a dangerous environment for all the employees that were working. Because of the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration we can feel safe in the workplace knowing that we are aware of hazards that are present in the workplace and how you can best stay safe while completing your job. There is a select few that will argue that OSHA isn’t necessary, but in reality, if there was no one to enforce the safety and regulations for companies all over the world then there would be no standard that existed for safety because all companies would vary whenever it comes to safety programs. After reviewing the data about the decrease in workplace fatalities and injuries in the workplace there is nothing that you could argue and if you did then you would be arguing with the safety and wellbeing of others and yourself. OSHA has come a long way since it was established in 1971, they are constantly looking for ways to keep employees safe and adding sections for companies to follow in order to keep their employees safe. It can be argued that OSHA very well may be one of the most effective and successful administrations every established.

References

  • Leviton Diaz & Ginocchio, Inc. (2019). OSHA estimates that half of workplace injuries go unreported | Leviton Diaz & Ginocchio, Inc | Santa Ana, California. [online] Available at: https://www.ldglaw.com/Articles/OSHA-estimates-that-half-of-workplace-injuries-go-unreported.shtml.
  • Osha.gov. (2019). Introduction to OSHA: Instructor Guide. [online] Available at: https://www.osha.gov/dte/outreach/intro_osha/intro_to_osha_guide.html.
  • Osha.gov. (2019). Timeline | Occupational Safety and Health Administration. [online] Available at: https://www.osha.gov/osha40/timeline.html.

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