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.
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.
NIOSH uses robotic arms to test healthcare PPE, teen workers get safety info from OSHA and FairWarning sheds a light on the hazards faced by small farmers in the U.S. These were among the occupational safety and health stories featured on ISHN.com this week.
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.