This June the National Safety Council will recognize National Safety Month, which should encourage us to reassess and improve upon workplace safety. First, some staggering facts: in 2019, the United States saw the largest number of workplace fatalities (5,333 in total) since 2007. Although OSHA has yet to calculate the number of fatalities (and injuries) in the workplace in 2020, anecdotal evidence suggests it will be in the tens of thousands—despite the fact that so many were working from home. During the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, fatalities among healthcare workers alone has numbered more than 3,600.
An Old Problem, A Renewed Attention
While Covid has cast a spotlight on the issue of worker safety, we should recognize that this has been a blight on the American workforce for centuries. Ignoring fatalities for the moment, we are presented with the sobering fact that a worker is injured on the job every 7 secs. Measures can, and we would argue must, be taken to mitigate preventable workplace injury and death. Possessing the proper safety equipment is essential on the modern worksite. For those dealing with hazardous liquids, for instance, protective overalls and gloves create an environment where workers feel protected. Depending on your industry, you may also consider purchasing a portable eye wash station, which can be transported between worksites. From waterproof, winter work gloves for construction crews to orange safety vests (“hi vis shirts”) for road maintenance workers, there are a number of inexpensive equipment options that employers and organizations can invest in to protect their employees.
Workplace Safety: It’s For Office Workers, Too
The equipment mentioned above are for, in the main, those workers engaged in manual labor, but office workers, too, suffer from a litany of risks and injuries that often go unnoticed. Given the sedentary nature of their jobs, office workers are more likely to be overweight. Having fresh, healthy snacks available, taking walks during lunch, and scheduling time for breaks can go a long way in ameliorating the adverse health impacts of office work. At the same time, while the injuries suffered by office workers may be not as severe as those experienced by those engaged in manual labor, sitting in a chair and staring at a computer for eight-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week gradually produces lasting afflictions. Carpal tunnel syndrome, eye strain that can lead to migraine headaches, and back pain are just a handful of the injuries that arise from sedentary office work.
Creating a Safe Work Environment: It’s Up to Us
Covid has given renewed emphasis to having PPE kits available and handy in the workplace. Hopefully, this trend of placing importance on hygiene and the adoption of the sanitary workplace doesn’t come to end when America finally has Covid under control. While June is workplace safety month, as we reemerge from our homes back to our offices and places of work, we should remain ever mindful of the health risks posed to all our workers and employees. At GOS, we think 2021 should be the year of recognizing worker safety.