The principles of occupational health and safety are essential for the protection of workers and their families. They address both the physical and psychological risks of work. In the United States, nearly three million people suffer from work-related illnesses each year. Millions of others are exposed to environmental health hazards.
Although accidents are a constant threat in any workplace, recent decades have seen accident rates decline steadily. A good Occupational Health and Safety policy identifies the specific hazards in the workplace and makes sure that workers receive training in safety practices. It also ensures that employees have adequate protective equipment. A failure to properly implement policies and procedures can result in workers’ compensation claims and reduced productivity. It can also lead to penalties from OSHA.
While workers are increasingly aware of the hazards of their jobs, there have also been new developments in the field of occupational health and safety. For example, employers are now required to protect their workers from heat-related illness. To address this issue, OSHA has outlined recommendations for employers, including providing shade and water to workers during the hottest part of the day. Another emerging concern is repetitive motions. Many people spend hours each day on a computer, which can lead to overuse of muscles.
In addition to physical health, mental health issues can have profound effects in the workplace. These issues can cause high absenteeism, reduce productivity, and negatively affect the effectiveness and efficiency of employees. Some estimates suggest that mental illnesses cost the U.S. economy more than $570 billion each year. As a result, they are among the most expensive health issues in the country.