On Labor Day – Remember the Importance of Workplace Safety

Labor Day is a U.S. national holiday held on the first Monday of September and pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers – from teachers to retail workers, from stockbrokers to commercial fisherman – for their contribution to America’s strength and prosperity.

Labor Day is also a great time to remember the importance workplace safety. Most of us show up to work each day and we take it for granted that we will return home safely. Sadly, that is not always the case. The fact is – according to the National Safety Council – every 7 seconds, a worker is injured on the job – and each injury is preventable.

Whether you work in an office, on a construction site, or behind the wheel of a truck, safety should be an important part of every workday.

Likewise, the best way we can honor workers today and throughout the year, is to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for every man and woman – young and old alike.

About Labor Day and OSHA

The first observance of Labor Day was on September 5, 1882, when some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City for a parade. That gathering inspired similar events across the country. In 1894, Congress passed legislation and President Grover Cleveland signed the bill on June 29, making the first Monday in September “Labor Day.”

The labor movement fought to pass the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 that promised to make workplaces safer and healthier and that workers have the right to a safe workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act established the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to set standards and perform inspections at job sites.

Progress has been made – workplace deaths and injuries have declined dramatically. In fact, the lives of more than half a million workers have been saved by strengthening workplace protections.

Still though, too many people still work in unnecessarily unsafe conditions. Thousands of workers are killed each year – and millions more suffer injuries or illnesses – because of their jobs. There is much more work to be done and we continue to advocate for safe workplaces.

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Why get OSHA safety training?

OSHA Outreach Training provides instruction and training on the recognition, avoidance, abatement, and prevention of workplace hazards. The OSHA Training Program also provides an overview of OSHA, regarding workers’ rights, employer responsibilities, and how to file a complaint.

Aside from the obvious benefit of keeping employees safe, healthy, and productive – along with meeting the OSHA workplace safety standards – health and safety training makes financial sense for employers because:

  • Every dollar spent on proper health and safety programs can save a business $4 to $6! [1]
  • With less work-related illnesses and injuries, employers see significant savings on absenteeism and workers’ compensation insurance. [2]
  • According to one study by California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), businesses inspected by OSHA “saved an estimated $355,000 in injury claims and compensation paid for lost work” in the four years after inspections. [3]
  • Businesses that meet OSHA’s standards avoid inspection violations and possible fines.

Employer Reasons for a Workplace Health and Safety Program

Here are a few reasons why you should give strong consideration to a health and safety training program:

  • All Workplaces Have an Element of Risk – From manually handling packages to driving heavy machinery, there are different levels of exposure to risk and illness.
  • Increases Staff Productivity – Employees in many ways are like customers, treat them well and they stay, treat them well and they feel valued and treat your customers well in turn.
  • Reduces Frequency of Compensation Claim or Lawsuit – It only takes one serious injury to bring a worker’s compensation claim or lawsuit. Safety training can diminish the frequency.
  • Enhances Company Image Positively – Workers want to know what they stand to gain from a company in regards their benefits and salaries, but they also want to know your plan for their health and safety.
  • Reduces Costs – Apart from the cost that will be accrued by litigation costs, fines and compensation payments, actual injuries and incidents can rack up direct costs in, medical expenses such as ambulance, hospital, and doctors’ fees, medication, and rehabilitation. There could even be increases in insurance premiums as a result. Likewise, indirect costs could include disrupted work schedules, lost productivity, clean-up and repair, hiring and training replacement workers, bad publicity, time spent on accident investigation and claims management.

As an employer, don’t think health and safety training is expensive and wasteful. Health and safety training educates your workers to work safely and motivates them to be more productive… which is a profit in itself.

Employers will find that implementing safety practices also brings other benefits. Safety and health programs help businesses:

  • Prevent workplace injuries and illnesses
  • Improve compliance with laws and regulations
  • Reduce costs, including significant reductions in workers’ compensation premiums
  • Engage workers
  • Enhance their social responsibility goals
  • Increase productivity and enhance overall business operations

Summary

Throughout history, workers have overcome many challenges. In this modern era, safety and health shouldn’t be one of them. That is why on Labor Day, and every day, we should endeavor to ensure all workers have a safe and healthy workplace.

 

Additional Workplace Safety Resources

 

References

[1] https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3163/osha3163.html
[2] https://www.osha.gov/Publications/safety-health-addvalue.html
[3] https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/products/topics/businesscase/