The Occupational Safety and Health Regulation (OSHA) Act has been in place since 1970. With its strict and comprehensive regulations and standards it is expected that most, if not all, of the safety aspects in each employees respective workplaces are well guarded. However, safety in workplaces is a two-way street, so to speak.In one hand, OSHA has established standards and regulations in place so that industries are guided. The other half, would come from the workplace itself. Standards and rules are only as good and useful when they are being followed and implemented by the corresponding industry. Implementation of designated workplace OSHA regulations may at times need refining or adjustment depending on how efficient and prudent existing policies are in a workplace.
As we look into the most recent data from the U. S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, it would come as a surprise how the Healthcare industry is performing as compared to others. The Health care and Social Assistance sector comes on top in terms of number of illness, and number of injuries, 33.2 thousand, and 552.6 thousand, respectively. These, in terms of Distribution of Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses by Private Industry Sector for the year 2016. Most people would expect that the manufacturing, and construction industries would be on the top of the list. One may even find it unbelievable that the mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction is at the bottom of the list. Which in turn, statistics indicate that they are in essence the safest among the listed workplaces compared to the rest, in terms of illness and injuries.
It would come as a great surprise (unfortunately for the Healthcare industry workers) that they come in persistently leading when it comes to these data including: Incidence Rates and Numbers of Nonfatal Injuries and Illnesses by Selected Industries, State Government for the Year 2016. The Healthcare sector is on the two highest spots of the list again. The five listed industry sectors, according to highest to lowest are as follows: (1) Nursing and residential care facilities, (2) Hospitals, (3) Police protection, (4) Correctional Institutions, and (5) Colleges, universities, and professional schools. The number of cases in the Nursing and residential care facilities is at 14.9 thousand, and incidence rate at 13.7 per 100 full-time equivalent workers. While hospitals have 25.3 thousand number of cases, and incidence rate at 8.2 per 100 full-time equivalent workers.
The question now comes as, first, what could have brought about this high incidence and number of cases in the Healthcare industry when compared to others on the lists? One factor we could only presume as, it may be that industries which may have been notorious in the past in terms of workplace safety, have learned their lessons early, and made it a priority to improve their statistics to pull themselves back from their safety performance, let alone embarrassment and potential legal liabilities. Industries such as: (1) manufacturing; (2) construction; and the (3) mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction.
Secondly, has the Healthcare sector been loose and a bit lax when it comes to their workers safety? Have we in the hospitals, nursing homes, and other related workplaces, been too focused solely on the safety and welfare of our patients and clients, that in retrospect, we have forgotten to ensure our own workers well-being?
In conclusion, with so many factors to examine, assess and evaluate, these data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics for the year 2016, needless to say, only shows one thing to the Healthcare sector – this industry needs to perform better. Statistics-wise the scores do not lie, and we need to hasten and improve our existing policies and procedures. Either that, or be more vigilant in terms of its implementation.
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