DOL Report on Injury Inequality, Part 1

This morning on my Twitter feed (@thesafetydude), the Department of Labor posted a link to a new report that was released in regards to how an injury to a worker actually creates inequality. The report is quite thought provoking. Sadly, those who will probably read it already are concerned with creating a safety workplace. I would like to think that the report will help progress the safety field and create safer work environments.

http://www.dol.gov/osha/report/20150304-inequality.pdf

I am going to take a short break from the Hierarchy of Safety Needs to walk through this report. There are a few topics that I feel should be explored a little further in depth.

One of the key taglines in the report is “(safety) statistics are people with the tears washed off”

WOW!

That one struck me like a thunderbolt.

Indulge me as I take my soapbox for a few moments. When I was getting my undergraduate degree, I never saw myself as a safety person. This was a career that took me by surprise. I thought my minor would be a means to a degree and really not serve me any real purpose. I am so thankful for it now as it has become not only my career but a defining piece of who I am. I love what I do! I really feel that what I do each day makes a difference. I see the benefit of having a great safety culture. I have seen what injuries can do and how they affect people. I have always viewed my job as an underrated necessity for companies. The misunderstanding comes from a lack of quantification. The business of safety is the business prevention. How does one really quantify prevention? When looking at the profession from that standpoint. Each day is the prevention of catastrophic loss. Speaking in those terms, a safety professional is worth their salary thousands of times over. Unfortunately, many organizations do not see the need for true safety professionals (http://thesafetydude.me/2015/02/18/safety-professional). One topic that I try to teach when I have to opportunity to is that there are no second changes with safety. From a SQDC standpoint, safety has no mulligans. If the quality of a product is off, it can be fixed or the customers items can be replaced. If a delivery is missed, it can usually be made up. If cost is missed, there may be ways to make up the loss over time. When a safety incident happens, it cannot be undone. The person hurt may recover but will never be the way they were. The people who saw it will remember. There is always the unquantifiable time and effort in understanding, reporting, and managing after an incident. There are not ways to undo the injury.

This report takes time to really focus on many of the unquantifiable aspects of injuries. There are many unexplored ways that injuries in the workplace create inequality for those who are affected. I am looking forward to diving into a little more detail of the report.

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