On an average work day, 14 people will be killed on the job and more than 10,000 will be disabled. This staggering figure is equivalent to a major airline crash every two weeks!
If you look behind the scenes, you will see an estimated 60,000 people who die each year from job-related illnesses. “There is a critical need to increase the emphasis on safety as the workforce ages,” explains M. W., M.D., medical director of OccNet, the occupational health service of the Health Alliance. The workplace cost of these tragic job related injuries exceeds $127 billion a year, which is more than the combined profits of the 17 most profitable U.S. corporations.
The National Safety Council, in its “Safety Agenda for the Nation” initiative, noted that workplace safety has improved in recent decades, but the rate of job-related deaths has not declined significantly since 1992 and remains unacceptable. “With all the pressures that are in place to cut costs and increase profit, the emphasis on safety in the workplace sometimes tends to get lost,” says Dr. W.
In effort to accelerate the rate of decline in occupational deaths by 25 percent per year, and to reduce disabling, job related injuries to fewer than 800,000 per year by the year 2010, the National Safety Council proposes expanding the use of workplace safety best practices identified by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to all workplaces in the country. The council also encourages senior managers of all public and private enterprises to instill a “safety culture” in their organizations by adopting a Corporate Code of Safety and Health Ethics.
The Code would make safety and health a core value of the organization, on the same level as customer service and financial performance, and it would establish a comprehensive safety audit to identify current and potential hazards and to assign accountability for ensuring that they are controlled or eliminated. The Council urges all companies to review and update occupational safety and health programs during Workplace Safety Week in June.
The Agenda went on to state that no employee should be asked to make or tolerate a potentially disabling or life-threatening risk in the name of cost-cutting, productivity, or any other priority.
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