Providing a safe work environment has become a top priority among many US companies today. They look at workplace safety issues just as important as providing good quality products for consumers. This is good news for workers as companies have realized that safety plays a major role in increasing productivity. The scope for new job potential is also increasing, as the health and safety industry increases.
Many countries, particularly the US, have come a long way in securing the workplace for employees and also securing their rights. There have been many protests and demonstrations throughout history which brought about reforms that ensure worker safety. Basic rights, such as the eight hour work day, availability of first aid, fire safety and clean working environment are being enforced and monitored more closely today by government agencies. Some of the notable reforms are as follows:
1. Health and Morals of Apprentices Act & Mine Safety Law
The Health and Morals of Apprentices Act was passed in 1802 and marked the beginning of the involvement of government with workplace safety. Several new regulations were introduced and factory inspections began in 1867 to enforce this law, in Massachusetts. Laws ensuring the safety of mine workers were also introduced. The Mine Safety Law was passed in 1869 by Pennsylvania legislature.
2. Employer’s Liability Law
A law passed in 1877 by Massachusetts legislature required workers to follow safety procedures such as using protective glasses, clothing, and gloves while operating hazardous machinery. This law also established the liability of employers where they were held accountable in case of an accident in the workplace.
The workers compensation law, introduced in 1911, provided wage replacements and medical facilities for workers, if they were injured while at work in the course of employment. The first state that passed this law was Wisconsin.
4. Formation of government and nongovernment safety agencies
There are several government and nongovernmental agencies constantly monitoring and ensuring that all safety rules are being obeyed. Below you will find several agencies dedicated to ensuring workplace safety.
The National Safety Council is a non-governmental, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting health and protecting lives in the US. Their headquarters are located at Itasca, Illinois. There are currently around 55,000 members including laborers, businesses, organizations, agencies, private groups, and public agencies. NSC has no affiliation with any political party.
The United States Department of Labor also known as DOL, is a department of the U.S. federal government at cabinet-level responsible for occupational safety including ensuring wage and hour standards, assisting people in finding employment, handling unemployment benefits, and keeping statistics and records of employment.
OSHA began its journey after President Richard M. Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act on December 29, 1970. This agency watches over workplace conditions and ensures safety in the workplace. It sets and monitors workplace safety standards and also enforces workplace related safety laws, rules, and regulations.
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