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Is your workplace safe?

When someone goes to work, it is rare for them to ask if their workplace is safe. This is because this safety is assumed, though it is not reality for all workers. The state of Pennsylvania is no stranger to on-the-job accidents as demonstrated by worker advocacy groups who recently hosted events on April 28, Workers' Memorial Day.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a dozen workers are killed every day. This means that 12 families lose a loved one to something that may be preventable. That is why the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed, to address preventable injuries and fatalities and to ensure that employers are putting the safety of their workers ahead of profits.

Though catastrophic safety failures do occur, they are much rarer than they were before the passing of OSHA. The year in which it passed was 1970, and that year, data shows that 14,000 individuals lost their lives while at work. Comparing this to the figure from 2011 speaks to how successful OSHA has been in increasing workplace safety; there were 4,609 work-related deaths in 2011. Divide that number across 365 days and you'll see that an average of more than 12 workers die per day in the U.S.

Many advocacy groups and employees have been working together to ensure that their workplace is safe. If it is not, federal regulators may hold the employer accountable for any accidents or potential hazards found during an investigation. These procedures and aforementioned data highlight the ability of employers to change behaviors in order to increase the safety and security of their workers.

Despite these changes, there were still almost 3 million illnesses and injuries reported by private companies. This shows that there is room for improvement. It also indicates that anyone who has been injured should seek the advice of an attorney to determine if any action can or should be taken.

Source:  Sacramento Bee, "12 Workers Are Killed On the Job Every Day in Our Country" No Author Given, Apr. 25, 2013

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