Workplace Safety | Peer Reviewed Journals
Medical Safety & Global Health

Medical Safety & Global Health
Open Access

ISSN: 2574-0407

Workplace Safety

Workplace safety refers to the working environment at a company and encompasses all factors that impact the safety, health, and well-being of employees. This can include environmental hazards, unsafe working conditions or processes, drug and alcohol abuse, and workplace violence. Workplace safety is monitored at the national level by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA has three stated goals that serve as the cornerstones of its policies and regulations: 1) Improve the safety and health for all workers, as evidenced by fewer hazards, reduced exposures, and fewer injuries, illnesses, and fatalities; 2) Change workplace culture to increase employer and worker awareness of, commitment to, and involvement in safety and health; 3) Secure public confidence through excellence in the development and delivery of OSHA's programs and services. The federal guidelines imposed by this agency are complemented by state regulations that are often tougher than those proposed by OSHA.

Every year the Department of Labor, through its Bureau of Labor Statistics, publishes the workplace injury and illness data that it gathers and compiles. In 2004, 5,764 people lost their lives while on the job in the United States. These fatalities were caused, primarily, to traffic-related incidents (45 percent), followed by assaults and violent acts (18 percent), falls (15 percent), contact with objects and equipment (14 percent), and finally, exposure to harmful substances.

The nonfatal injuries and illnesses reported in 2004, serious enough to require time-away from work, numbered 1.27 million, a rate of injury equivalent to 141.3 per 100,000 full-time workers. These data include all work-related injuries and illnesses that resulted in time-away from work beyond the day on which the injury occurred. The median number of days away from work per incident in 2004 was 7 days. By category of injury, the national data break down as follows: Sprains and strains (41.7 percent), bruises and contusions (9.1 percent), cuts and lacerations (7.8 percent), fractures (7.5 percent), heat burns and carpal tunnel syndrome (1.5 percent each), and other injuries and illnesses make up the remaining 5.8 percent of workplace injuries. The goods-producing industries have a higher rate of on-the-job injury than do the service industries with one exception. Businesses in the transportation sector are part of the service industry but they have a very high rate of on-the-job injuries.

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