Business / Safety Of Work In The Usa &Amp; Great Brittian
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Autor: anton 14 May 2011
Words: 3845 | Pages: 16
Within the United States safety of work issues exist just as they do in my other countries around the world. In the United States the major governing body that overseas the administration and regulation of workplaces acts and situations is the Department of Labor. Within the Department of Labor there are several agencies and offices that handle various issues, such as the (OSHA) Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the (BLS) Bureau of Labor and Statistics, and the (OWCP) Office of Workersâ€™ Compensation Programs.
Department of Labor
The Department of Labor was established in 1913 by the signing of a legislative bill by President William Howard Taft "to foster, promote and develop the welfare of working people, to improve their working conditions, and to advance their opportunities for profitable employment"(DOL 2007f). The creation of this department lead to it becoming the governing authority for many agencies within the federal government, many of which deal and have dealt with worker safety issues.
Occupational Health and Safety Administration
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration otherwise known as OSHA, was created on April 28, 1971 by the Department of Labor after the establishment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (DOL 2007g). The primary purpose for the creation of this agency was to administer the newly created Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The Act was created to protect workers from harm on the job and also created a federal program that would protect almost the entire workforce from job related death, illness, and injury (DOL 2007g).
Bureau of Labor and Statistics
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics which is also governed by the Department of Labor helps in the effort to ensure employee safety by collecting statistics for the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (DOL, 2001a). Two of the most important sets of statistics that the Bureau of Labor and Statistics collects that aid the Occupational Health and Safety Administration are workplace injuries and illnesses and occupational injuries and illnesses (DOL, 2001a). The statistics are reported to the bureau by employers themselves in records that they are required to maintain (DOL, 2001a). Injuries and illnesses that will be used in these statistics include death, loss of consciousness, days away from work, restricted work activity, and medical treatment beyond first aid treatment (DOL, 2005b). The use of these statistics reported to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics are to aid in the prevention of workplace injuries by periodically checking these numbers to determine where injury is occurring and try to prevent it.
Office of Workersâ€™ Compensation Programs
The Office of Workersâ€™ Compensation Programs, otherwise known as OWCP, is also an agency office of the Department of Labor. The Office of Workersâ€™ Compensation Programs operates four programs for federal workers that are aimed at reducing human, social, and financial impact of injuries sustained while working (DOL, 2007c). Also this plan provides compensation in the form of wage replacement benefits, medical treatment, and vocational rehabilitation to federal workers who are injured at work (DOL, 2007c). Also it should be noted that those employees working for private employers, state or local governments other than the federal government are also entitled to workersâ€™ compensation benefits, but they are handled at the state level with each individual state operating its own department of workersâ€™ compensation (DOL, 2007c).
OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT OF 1970
The Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed by congress in 1970 (DOL, 2007e). The passage of this Act lead to the creation of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, which became the administering agency to regulate this Act (DOL, 2007e).
Who Is Covered
The Occupational Safety and Health Act almost all employers and employees in the 50 United States, including the United States Postal Service, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and all other United States territories (DOL, 2007e). The Act covers employees in many occupational fields such as manufacturing, construction, agriculture, law, medicine, charity, disaster relief, organized labor, and private education (DOL, 2007e).
Those not covered
The Occupational Safety and Health Act covers most employees, but not all. The Act does not cover those who are self employed, farms employing only immediate family members of the farmer, or those working in industries that have safety regulations for workers enforced by another federal agency, these include jobs such as mining, nuclear energy creation and nuclear weapons manufacturing (DOL, 2007e). Also, those working for the federal government are not covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, they are covered through a separate program that also includes state and local government employees that work in states with OSHA approved plans (DOL, 2007e).
The passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act placed two main requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, those being to set standards and conduct inspections of employers to see that they are providing workers with a safe and healthy workplace (DOL, 2007e). Typically the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will set standards that will aim to eliminate work hazards (DOL, 2007e). These standards usually require that an employer change or enact new practices, means, methods, or processes to protect workers on the job (DOL, 2007e). Often to achieve these new standards employers will need to provide workers with training on the new regulations or with personal protective equipment such as protective glasses, gloves, face shields, steel toed boots, and/or protective head gear (DOL, 2007e).
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that employers with at least 10 employees or more covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, not including low hazard industries such as retail, insurance, real estate, finance, and some service sectors, maintain three different types of work related injuries and illness records a Form 300, Form 300A, and Form 301 (DOL, 2007e). Also, all employers regardless of industry or amount of employees must report any fatalities caused by work related injuries or the hospitalization of three or more employees to the nearest Occupational Safety and Health Administration office within 8 hours of the incident, because often the administration will investigate the incident to determine whether violations to the Occupational Safety and Health Act were contributing factors to the incident (DOL, 2007e)
Form 300 is a log that contains injuries and illnesses such as work related deaths and injuries that that do not involve loss of consciousness, restriction of work, or immediate medical attention (DOL, 2007e). Injuries that occur at work that are classified as only minor and that may be taken care of with first aid need not be reported.
Form 300A is a form that all employers must post by February 1 and keep in place till at least April 30 in a visible location that alerts employees of all of the work related injuries and illnesses reported in the previous year (DOL, 2007e).
Form 301 is form that provides details about individual recorded work place illnesses or injuries (DOL, 2007e).
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration conduct two basic kinds of inspections, programmed and unprogrammed. In a programmed inspection employers with high injury rates are inspected, whereas with unprogrammed inspections they are used to investigate fatalities, catastrophes, and complaints (DOL, 2007e). After assessing violations, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will then issue penalties and fines based on the violation. However, it should be noted that not all violations will receive a penalty, a penalty that has no direct or immediate relationship to safety and health may be deemed as de minimus, meaning that it requires no penalty because it is not a significant violation, and because of this no citation will be issued (DOL, 2007e).
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration have five basic categories for violations: other than serious violations, serious violations, willful violation, repeated violation, and failure to correct prior violations, with all of these violations comes a fine based on the severity of the violation (DOL, 2007e).
Other than serious violation
This type of violation is cited when a violation occurs that has a direct relationship to job health and safety, but would probably not cause death or serious harm (DOL, 2005e). With this type of violation the fine can be up to $7,000 (DOL, 2005e).
A serious violation citation is issued when the probability of a serious injury could occur with the employer knowing or should have known of the hazard (DOL, 2005e). With type of violation a fine of up to $7,000 can be assessed (DOL, 2005e).
A willful violation is a violation in which the employer intentionally and knowingly commits without making any type of reasonable attempt to eliminate it (DOL, 2005e). When a willful violation is cited it carries a penalty maximum of $70,000, but not less $5,000 per violation cited (DOL, 2005e). If an employer is convicted of criminal charges resulting in the death of an employee the fine can carry up to 6 months of jail time and a $250,000 fine for the individual, or a $500,000 fine for the organization (DOL, 2005).
A citation for a repeated violation is issued when a violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order is found to be un-resolved after re-inspection. In the event that a repeat violation is detected it can carry a $70,000 fine per violation (DOL, 2005e).
Failure to Correct Prior Violation
When a violation has not been corrected it can carry a penalty of up to $7,000 for each day following the citation date till the problem is corrected (DOL, 2005e).
CHILD LABOR LAWS
The United States like many industrialized countries has its own specific set of labor laws regarding children and penalties that are enforced when violations are discovered. In the United States child labor laws were created under the Fair Labor and Standards Act of 1938 to protect the educational opportunities of youths and to prohibit them from working jobs that could be or could become detrimental to their health (DOL, 2005d).
Child labor laws in the United States are broken down into 4 basic employment ranges, 14 to 15 year olds, 16 to 17 year olds, 18 year olds, and parental employment that outline and detail the restrictions on the hours and jobs they may perform.
14 to 15 years
Children aged 14 to 15 years are permitted to work only jobs that have been declared non hazardous (DOL, 2005d). Also they are allowed to work only 3 hours a day on school days and only between the hours of 7am and 7pm, but no more than 18 hours in a school week or 40 hours in a non school week (DOL, 2005d).
16 to 17 years
Children between the ages of 16 and 17 years are permitted to work any job declared non hazardous and are not subjected to any restrictions on amount of hours worked or times worked (DOL, 2005d).
When a child reaches the age of 18 there are no longer any restrictions on labor, they may perform any job they wish (DOL, 2005d).
Children who are employed by their parents in a non farming business or any job that is declared as hazardous are permitted to work at age (DOL, 2005d).
Employers are subject to an $11,000 fine per violation per child working for them when a violation is detected (DOL, 2005d). Also, if an employer is found to have committed a willful violation of a child labor law they are then subjected to a $10,000 fine (DOL, 2005d). Should the employer commit a second willful violation they will be subjected to a fine of no more then $10,000 and up to 6 months imprisonment (DOL, 2005d).
WORK PLACE INJURY STATISTICS
In the United States in 2004 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted 39,167 inspections regarding workplace injuries and illnesses (DOL, 2004h). In 2004, 37.1% of those inspections occurred in construction, 22.4 % in manufacturing, 1% in maritime industries, and 19.6% in other in other industries, resulting in 86,708 violations, 71.1% classified as serious, costing employers $85,192,940 in fines (DOL, 2004h).
GREAT BRITAIN/ EUROPE
Great Britain has many rules and regulations in regard to the health and safety of workers on the job, just like the United States. In the interest to help keep these workers and employees as safe as possible, there have been many laws, rules, and committees to help ensure that employers provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees.
The Health and Safety System in Great Britain
Similar to the United States, Great Britain has specific government bodies where health and safety standards are their primary concern. These bodies came about under the creation of the Health and Safety Act in 1974. Although health and safety regulation has gone back well into the 19th century, The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 set up new institutions, and provide for the progressive revision and replacement of all health and safety laws then existing. (HSE, 2002: 4). These new laws affect anyone who owns or manages as well as those who work in the Industrial and Commercial markets. This also includes those who are self employed. To help ensure that these new laws and regulations are enforced, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 created two institutions. These institutions are known as The Health and Safety Commission, and the Health and Safety Executive.
The Health and Safety Commission
The Health and Safety Commission was created to help secure the health, safety, and welfare of people at work as well as the public affected by these work places. The Health and Safety Commission is a body of up to ten people, appointed by the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions after consultation with organizations representing employers, employees, local authorities and others, as appropriate. (HSE, 2002: 4). Along with those appointed, one member is selected to reflect the interest of the general public. Along with ensuring the health and safety of workers and employees, The Health and Safety Commission help maintain the Employment Medical Advisory Service (EMAS), which provides advice on occupational health matters. It is a duty of The Health and Safety Commission to help encourage people concerned with these matters. (HSE, 2002: 4).
The Health and Safety Executive
Along with the Health and Safety Commission, another body was created by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which is called the Health and Safety Executive. This committee helps assist and advise the Health and Safety Commission in its day to day functions. The Health and Safety Executive is a body of three people appointed by the Commission with the consent of the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and Regions. (HSE, 2002: 4). Under these three members, there is a staff that consists of roughly 4,000 members. These members include advisors, inspectors, and scientific and medical experts. The Primary responsibility of The Health and Safety Commission is to enforce the laws in regard to employment health and safety. One aspect of enforcement is through inspection. Inspectors can enter plants and offices without warning and if they are not satisfied by the standards set, they can issue notices to improve (usually within a given amount of time.) If the improvements are not met in that time, the company may serve a prohibition notice or in some serious instances, the company can be prosecuted for their actions by not complying with the law.
Duties, Regulations, and Codes of Practice, and Standards
Everyone has a duty to comply with the Act, including employers, employees, trainees, self-employed, manufacturers, suppliers, designers, and importers of work equipment. (The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, 2007) The Act places direct responsibility on every person who is included in these sectors. Some duties of employers include providing a safe system of work and proper safety equipment on hand, provide information, training, and instruction to all staff and ensure that all staff understands instructions of the manufacturer. Also it is the responsibility of an employer with five or more employees to have a written statement of the general health and safety policies that the employer will enforce. The employers are not the only ones with specific duties and responsibilities. Employees must abide by the rules and regulations that their employer may set and may not attempt to interfere in the changing of those policies. Also employees are asked to help in taking care of their own safety along with the safety of others, because in some cases employees can be liable for any consequences that can arise from an incident.
Obviously if an Act is passed there needs to be some regulation. At the time the Act came into force, there were some 30 statutes and 500 sets of regulations. (HSE, 2002: 18). New regulations or changes to existing ones are usually proposed by the Health and Safety Commission. They are then given to Parliament where they become new laws twenty-one days after unless the parliament objects.
Under the specific regulations lie different codes of practice, which unlike regulations, do not have to be passed by Parliament. Approved Codes of Practice (ACOPs) are approved by the Health and Safety Commission with the consent of the appropriate Secretary of State. (HSE, 2002: 18). If a business or company does not comply with certain codes, then they are subject to criminal proceedings in court.
As mentioned earlier, one of the most often used forms of enforcement is through inspection standards. Many of these standards evolved to place minimum requirements on different businesses in regard to health and safety. The group responsible for setting and developing the standards in Britain is The British Standards Institution (BSI.) Along with the help of The BSI, The Health and Safety Executive are the major contributors in the development of certain standards that have health and safety characteristics. Standards vary in type from specifications of performance goals, to guidance on operational practice, to design criteria for industrial products. (HSE, 2002: 20).
The main object of inspection is to stimulate compliance with health and safety legislation and to ensure that a good standard of protection is maintained. (HSE, 2002: 26). To ensure that these standards are maintained, The Health and Safety Executive have trained inspectors to implement the inspection. Almost all of the inspectors have earned a graduate diploma in occupational health and safety that includes field training under the experience of other inspectors, a specially designed academic course, and two years of professional training courses.
As stated before, many inspections can come without any warning and often are in response to previous visits as follow ups. Also many inspections take place due to either a complaint by a current or former worker, or members of the general public who have been affected or have seen bad practice. If a problem is evident in a small, regional section of a company, inspectors can also visit the head offices of that company and address the problems in the part of the company as well as discuss ways to improve the management of safety.
Inspections do not just involve the aspects of seeing if a business is abiding by specific standards, but they also gather much information on the company, which can be useful for both the companiesâ€™ employees, competition, and the actual company itself. Databases record information on employees and workplaces, obtained from previous contacts and inspections, and provide details about the number of employees at risk, hazardous processes, hazardous substances, accident history etc. (HSE, 2002: 27). With this information, many workplaces are rated and some of the factors include: hazard, levels of risk to the health and safety of employees, levels of risk to the health and safety of the public, working conditions, and management attitudes.
If certain places of employment do not earn the satisfaction of inspectors then that place is subject to certain penalties. Most likely for first offenses, the inspector will issue the company a warning about possible violations. For more noticeable issues, an improvement or prohibition notice will be issued. A notice of improvement requires that the company needs to improve within a certain amount of time and a follow up inspection will take place. Prohibition notices are issued because there is a serious risk of personal injury and often requires that whatever activities involve be stopped and addressed until safe enough to continue. If a company has not met the requirements after receiving these notices then they can be prosecuted in criminal law courts. According to the Health and Safety Commissions Enforcement Policy, a company that fails to comply with an improvement or prohibition notice, a lower court can sentence the violator to 6 months in jail and a fine of ₤20,000 (about $40,000). In the higher courts jail sentencing can be up to two years and no limit on fines. (HSC 2002: 18). A prosecution can be mounted against either individuals or corporate bodiesâ€¦ (HSE, 2002: 26). In the year 2004, there were roughly 11,285 notices issued with about 982 being prosecuted in court. Of these prosecutions, the fines imposed averaged about ₤14,700 (about $30,000) with the largest fine being ₤700,000 ($1.4 million.)(HSE 2007: 2). If a death occurs in the workplace, the company may face a lawsuit from the victimâ€™s family, fines, and possibly manslaughter charges in which local police will investigate.
CHILD LABOR LAWS
One aspect to health and safety in the workplace is establishing guidelines for children who work as well as other young persons. Every employer shall ensure that young persons employed by him are protected at work from any risks to their health or safety which are a consequence of their lack of experience, or absence of awareness of existing or potential risks or the fact that young persons have not yet fully matured.(OPSI: sec. 19). Children are not allowed to work if they are not over the age of 13 or they do not have an authorized work permit. Child also should not be employed if the job is beyond their physical capabilities, involves harmful exposure to toxic substances, radiation, or extreme heat, cold, noise, and/or vibration. There are also guidelines on how long children can work and when they can work. Children are allowed a maximum of 12 hours a week to work where the hours are between 7am and 7 pm with a maximum of 2 hours on Sundays. (Davies Horne, 2006).
WORK PLACE INJURY STATISTICS
Even though there is a system to help create a safe and healthy environment to work in, there are injuries that still occur in the work place. Some injuries that occur can be fatal and serious. There were 212 fatal injuries to workers in 2005/06, a decrease of 5% compared to 223 in 2004/05. (HSC 2006: 9). As for major injuries, there were 28,605 reported in 2005/06 and also was down from the previous year. (HSC 2006: 9). Major injuries consist of serious injuries like fractures, amputation, and admittance to a hospital. Another category is over-3-day injuries. These consist of non-major injuries that lead to absence from or inability to do usual work for more than three days. 2005/06 had a lower amount of this type of injury than the year before as well with 118,645 reports.
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