Occupational Health and Safety Management: A Practical Approach, Second Edition
This book is meant for those who need a blueprint to start a safety and health program or improve upon an existing one. It is designed to guide you in having an effective occupational safety and health effort at your company and will provide you the specifi c areas for each aspect of incorporating occupational safety and health into your company. It is a management approach using the practical lessons that have been provided by the safety and health community. These techniques, tools, and guidance have been implemented by many companies and have been recommended by others who are proponents of safe and healthy workplaces. They should provide the foundation to build on as you address your unique needs related to occupational safety and health.
The appendices at the end of the book will provide you further assistance in specifi c areas. Within these pages you will fi nd guidance and directions for applying good safety and health practices to your workplace. Most companies in today’s marketplace perceive occupational safety and health as an integral part of doing business. If you have an existing safety and health program, you will hopefully be looking for ways to improve upon it using this guide. If you do not have a The early silversmith plying his trade.
2 OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY MANAGEMENT: A PRACTICAL APPROACH program in place, you should glean from these pages a foundation for undertaking an effort to make occupational safety and health part of your business climate. The suggestions, principles, and practices found within this book are those that have stood the test of time. You will most likely want to use other more detailed and technical books to assist you in developing an occupational safety and health approach, which will meet the specifi c needs of your company.
It was envisioned that this book would be a simple yet practical guide for embracing occupational safety and health as a right and just component of any business that has a workforce. This book is also for those businesses that are concerned about the bottom line and cost containment in the competitive business environment of today.
A short history of occupational safety and health has been provided depicting its development over the years. This may help put things in perspective related to the evolution of occupational safety and health as we know it today.
Historically, the Egyptians were aware of the dangers from gold and silver fumes. They even had a first aid manual for workers as early as 3000 BC. In 2000 BC, Hammurabi placed a value on permanent injuries, such as the loss of an eye, for which the owner paid the worker or paid the doctor’s bill. In 1500 BC, Ramses hired a physician for quarry workers. In 400 BC, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, realized stone cutters were having breathing problems. In 100 BC, the Romans were aware of the dangers faced by workers. They would free a slave if he survived the launching of a ship. The Romans even had a goddess of safety and health named Salus whose image is often embedded on their coins.
In the Middle Ages, people became more aware of the link between the type of work they did and the types of injuries and illnesses that they sustained. For example, English chimney sweeps in the 1700s were more susceptible to testicular cancer because of the soot. With the advent of the industrial revolution, the use of machinery and the changed work environment saw a rapid rise in the number of injuries, illnesses, and deaths. During this period, the fi rst unions began to be organized to try to protect workers from the hazards of the workplace. The only improvement in the 1800s was fire protection because of pressure from insurance companies. This was soon followed by Massachusetts’ requirement for factory inspections. Also, the fi rst acts and regulations pertaining to mining were put forth. Some safety measures were adopted for other industries such as the railroads with the invention of air brakes and automatic couplers, which save many lives and amputations. During the fi rst part of the 1900s, workers’ compensation laws started appearing and were finally deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court in 1916. Before this, most employers blamed their workers and held them responsible for workplace incidents citing what were known as the “the common laws” that stated:
1. Employer is not responsible when a fellow worker negligently causes your injury.
2. Employer is not responsible if the worker is injured due to his/her own negligence.
3. If an employee takes up a risky job knowing fully well the inherent hazards, the employer is not responsible.
Under the workers’ compensation laws the employers assumed responsibilities for their workplaces’ safety and health. They were required to provide and pay for medical care and lost wages due to on-the-job incidents. Also at this time interest was generated to count the numbers of injuries and deaths; the most famous of these undertakings was the work-related death count for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, by the Russell Sage Foundation.
It was during this time that mining catastrophes continued to occur and more laws were passed to protect miners. Some catastrophes such as the 1910 Triangle Shirtwaist Co. where 146 young
IN THE BEGINNING: INTRODUCTION 3
women were killed in a fi re because exit doors were locked demonstrated a need to better protect workers. When 2000 workers or 50% of the workforce died from silica exposure at Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, the Walsh–Healey Act was passed that required safety and health measures for any employer receiving a government contract. Some companies began to understand their moral responsibility. The American Match Co. allowed other companies in the match-producing industry to use their process, which substituted a safer substance for phosphorus in match making. This resulted in the decrease of an occupational illness called “Phossy jaw,” which caused swelling and pain in the jaw due to phosphorus exposure. A more detailed timeline related to occupational safety and health can be found in Figure 1.1.
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