When beginning a new job, workers today are usually given thorough training on performing the duties of their job. Included in this training is a run-down on safety procedures, such as proper equipment handling and usage, record-keeping and reporting, use of safety equipment, and sharing various rules and regulations. While this may seem “old hat” to most of us, it was not so long ago that workplace safety was barely, if at all, regulated or mandated. Take for instance the 1906 novel by Upton Sinclair which detailed working conditions in the meatpacking industry. “The Jungle” revealed working and sanitary conditions so dangerous and gruesome that the United States government was forced to respond with inspections and ultimately increased regulations. Today, however, a worker may find that his or her safety is under the regard of multiple large organizations, including government, private and non-profit.
Two major government safety organizations likely familiar to many workers are the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH). Both departments were formed upon the passing of the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act. The Act’s goal was to protect employees from on-the-job health hazards such as dangerous equipment and chemicals, as well as risky environments due to excessive noise, temperatures, sanitation and stress. As an answer, OSHA and NIOSH were created to research and improve working conditions. OSHA, a Department of Labor agency, sets and enforces safety standards for many U.S. workplaces. NIOSH, part of the Centers for Disease Control in the Department of Health and Human Services, researches workplace injury and illness with the aim to promote and increase safety. While OSHA has some authority to enact and enforce safety regulations, NIOSH provides research and information, and at times makes recommendations to that goal.
Non-government agencies also do their part to increase worker safety. Various labor unions and labor rights agencies work to ensure the safety of workers in both high-risk professions like mining or law enforcement, as well as seemingly low-risk professions such as retail and education workers. One powerful non-profit agency which aims to increase safety is the National Safety Council (NSC). While the NSC’s ultimate goal is to prevent death and injuries in all areas of life, they have a particular focus on improving the safety of the labor force. In the effort to improve safety, NSC provides such services as research, training and education, as well as works with private businesses, labor and government agencies to improve voluntary and regulatory safety procedures.
Another benefit available to some workers today is Workers Compensation. Before the creation of worker compensation laws, employees too often had little recourse when injured on the job, even when the injury left them entirely unable to work. Such an event too often left workers and their families destitute. Today, fortunately, the majority of those who are injured while on-the-job may be eligible for medical care and/or compensation for injuries. Injured workers may contact a Chicago workers compensation attorney who can advise them how to proceed.
In a perfect world, there would be no need for safety organizations for workers. But as long as there is work to be done, there will always be a chance for an on-the-job injury. Thankfully for workers today, there are organizations and people working constantly to reduce these events, and protect the worker when an injury does occur.
About the Author: Brooke Haley marketing associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation attorney that practice in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers’ Compensation, and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts within the State of Illinois. For more information, please visit http://www.millonpeskin.com.