Last month in Seattle the National Safety Council's Campbell Institute held a conference where one of the major topics was, "Fatigue: Managing the Hidden Risk." My question: What's so "hidden" about fatigue? Everyone you talk to in today's 24/7 wired world is fatigued, tired, beat. Just ask them.
United Kingdom-based newspaper The Guardian recently ran this headline: “UK to tackle loneliness crisis with cash injection. More than 120 projects will receive funding to help those affected and reduce stigma.” This reminded me of a book written in 2000, “Bowling Alone,” by Robert D. Putnam.
Chronic pain we know about too well. The opioid onslaught has taught us that. The pressure to work through pain is real, particularly in industries with a macho ethos such as construction and oil and gas. But step back and look at a larger picture — chronic diseases — and the untold millions of adults who work through a chronic illness.
Just by putting “Congo miners” in the title here will have most readers flipping to the next page. I learned this lesson years ago writing an article about workplace safety, or the lack thereof, in China. “Why did you write this article?” asked a reader. “I don’t read ISHN for articles about China.” Another reader opined: “Everybody knows nobody values life in a country like China.”
Perhaps you read about the NIOSH study published in late August that found construction workers die of drug overdoses (not while on the job) at a rate six times higher than the general work population. Heroin was the main killer, followed by prescription opioids.
Dan Petersen, one of the great thinkers in the history of occupational safety, in a 2005 book, “Measurement of Safety Performance,” tore apart the traditional barometers of safety performance, the OSHA total case incident rate, total lost-workday cases, fatalities and other measures.
Is OSHA more irrelevant than ever? Many top OSHA officials, careerists, are working in an “acting” or interim basis: the agency’s career deputy assistant secretary position; the head of whistleblower protection; the director of training; and four of the ten agency regional administrators.
For years now many safety and health professionals have been preoccupied with building and sustaining cultures of trust and engagement. That’s key to raising safety levels. A hostile work environment under-cuts all of that work. It’s the last thing professionals want to deal with.