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Health and Safety in the Workplace

The workplace can be dangerous. Job injury is common, sometimes resulting in worker disability or even death. That is why health and safety in the workplace is of the utmost importance for both employers and employees.

Workplace Injury Statistics

Millions of work-related injuries occur each year.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were a total of 3,696,100 nonfatal injuries and illnesses reported at private companies in 2008. Of these cases, more than one million involved days away from work; more than 400,000 involved sprains, strains, and tears; more than 200,000 involved back injuries; and more than 200,000 involved falls.

The total number of fatal injuries in 2008 in the private sector was 4,670. Of these, more than 1,000 were highway incidents, about 650 were falls, and about 450 were homicides.

Practicing Health and Safety in the Workplace

There are a number of things you can do to help promote health and safety in the workplace. By following these tips, you can help reduce the likelihood of a workplace injury.

If you feel you are unsafe at your workplace, immediately inform your supervisor. Be sure to cite the specific hazard you feel presents a danger.

If, after alerting your supervisor, he or she does not respond promptly, then put your alert in writing and resubmit it.

If after submitting a written notice, the hazard is still present, contact your local Occupational Safety and Health Administration Office (OSHA). Describe to them the workplace hazard and what actions you have already taken to alert your supervisors. The agency will tell you how to file a formal complaint.

OSHA may send an inspector to your workplace. This inspector may do a safety walk to gauge whether your worksite is safe.

If the inspector notices a hazard, OSHA has the authority to order your employer to repair unsafe equipment and remove clutter from workplace areas. In addition, the agency can ask a court to require your employer to follow OSHA workplace safety standards.

Occupational Safety and Health Act

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) is a law that aims to promote health and safety in the workplace by forcing employers to do a number of things to reduce the likelihood of workplace injuries.

Specifically, the law requires employers to:

  • Keep workplaces free of recognized safety hazards
  • Tell you if you are working with hazardous materials
  • Provide you with job-safety training
  • Maintain records related to workplace injuries, deaths, and exposures to hazardous materials

Under OSHA, you have the right to question unsafe working conditions, request inspections, and file a lawsuit to force your employer to correct a workplace hazard.

If you are injured on the job, you may be entitled to workers' compensation. Workers' comp can pay your medical bills and provide payments for temporary or permanent disability caused by a work-related injury.