Taking Safety For Granted Safety Talk
The measures we take to work safely can become redundant or repetitive at times, especially on jobs that do not change much. The reason why safety can become repetitive is because it is often the same hazards that lead to the majority of injuries. We need to appreciate the amount of time and money companies spend on safety in the United States. Not so long ago, Americans faced horrible working conditions and a lot more risk when they went into work. Today there are many countries whose employees do not enjoy the same rights regarding workplace safety as we in the United States do. It is critical to keep these facts in mind to not take workplace safety for granted.
Workplace Safety in the United States in the Early 1900s
There are many different statistics we can look at regarding the workplace in the early 1900s to demonstrate how dangerous it was to be a worker in this country back then. One eye-opening statistic is that the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that there were about 23,000 industrial deaths in 1913 among a workforce of 38 million, equivalent to a rate of 61 deaths per 100,000 workers.
In contrast, the most recent data on overall occupational fatalities show a rate of 3.3 deaths per 100,000 workers. The difference is staggering. You were almost 19 times more likely to die in the early 1900s working in an industrial setting than you are today, not to mention the unimaginable amount of serious workplace illnesses and injuries that occurred during this time. There are many stories of horrible tragedies that claimed hundreds of workers’ lives in single events from this time period.
Working Conditions in Developing Countries Today
While workplace fatality rates in the United States are close to all-time lows today, there are many countries that experience higher fatality rates and horrible working conditions. For example, many Chinese workplaces today look much like the ones found in America in the early 1920s. Workers are looked at as expendable by many employers and the government does not offer very much protection for the individual worker like we experience here in the U.S.
One well-known news story was about how FoxConn, a company that assembled iPhones in China, had to install “suicide nets” around their building due to multiple employees jumping from the top of the factory and committing suicide. These workers often worked long hours completing monotonous tasks for a minimal amount of money per hour.
We need to take a step back as Americans, or anyone who is from a progressive developed country, and realize how lucky we are to have basic protections as employees. Furthermore, companies spend a lot of money and time to go beyond just basic compliance to ensure employees are comfortable and safe while at work. Think about the implications of this safety talk, it was only five minutes or so, but multiply that time for each individual worker in this room and total it up for a year’s time. Safety does benefit the company’s bottom line as well, but workers enjoy more benefits from the amount of attention given to workplace safety than the company does.
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