EDITOR'S NOTE: This article ran on the ISHN website back on May 20, 2000. We thought it would be interesting to present it to you today, some nineteen years later, as a means of comparing the occupational safety and health profession today with the way it was perceived by the people in it nearly two decades ago. Additional note: We've changed the name of the American Society of Safety Engineers to its current moniker, American Society of Safety Professionals, in order to avoid confusion.
In OSHA’s 48-year-old history, the agency has experienced desperate hours on a regular schedule. The agency opened its door in 1971. Before the decade was out a “STOP OSHA” lobbying movement was underway. In 1979, Republican Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania proposed an “OSHA Improvements Act” which would have exempted from inspections all employers, large or small, regardless of industry, with good safety records. It was defeated in 1980.
It’s long overdue, according to Dr. Sidney Dekker, who in 2014 wrote an essay on “The ‘Failed State’ of Safety.” Yes, says Corrie Pitzer, who is giving a talk, “Safety at a Dead End” at the American Society of Safety Professionals’ annual conference this June.
Hearing loss isn’t the first injury that comes to mind when an arc fault occurs. The light and heat emitted by the massive electrical explosion – the arc flash – can cause life-threatening and life-altering burns to the skin, compression injuries and loss of limbs if workers are left unprotected.
Assessing personality types or styles goes back thousands of years. Rob Fisher, a human factors expert, says in ancient Asia, “fire,” “wind,” “water,” “earth” and other terms were used to capture the different personalities of different people.
Workers in many fields – construction, landscaping, oil and gas extraction, emergency response, firefighters among others – toil in high heat stress conditions. These tasks can lead to rapid increases in body temperature that raise the risk of heat-related illnesses.
IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, recently produced a paper1 reviewing 100 years of research on shock and arc injuries. Going back, the first recognized hazard to workers was the shock hazard.
In 2017, 5,147 workers in the U.S. were killed on the job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, down slightly from 5.190 in 2016. The fatal injury rate in 2017 was 3.5 per 100,000 full-time employees. Three or four people out of 100,000. Not close to one percent. Meaning most everyone escapes being touched by a work-related death.